Getting the word out on upcoming elections

Things that affect students’ everyday lives are decided by local politicians.

I am concerned about the lack of student interest in local elections and would like to submit this opinion piece to help combat voter apathy.

Ah, fall. It is the time of year when the leaves turn yellow, the air has a pleasant chill and the rain comes down in violent bursts. It rains outside in torrents; while inside it drips from my kitchen ceiling, runs like a waterfall from behind the molding on my window and gushes from the pipe in the cupboard. Ah, fall. What a glorious time of year. Fortunately for me and my leaky house, fall is also the time for elections. One can go to a city council or mayoral candidate and beg them to take a stronger stand on tenants’ rights and safe and affordable housing, in exchange for your vote. One could also go to them and say: “Why, oh why, does it cost me more to have the buses run less frequently this year?” Or even: “I work 25 hours a week and can barely make rent. Could you please enact and enforce a living wage reform?”

All these things that affect students’ everyday lives: housing, transportation, wages, safety, economic development and many others, are decided by the people running for local office. Your city council member matters just as much as your senator, but students rarely take any interest in local elections. There is no excuse not to vote. These elections are important, and they will affect your life. Don’t know where to vote? Go to the Secretary of State’s Web site. Don’t know the candidates?

Lucky for you, MPIRG, MSA, and Youth Vote are here to make sure you can find out. If you live in Minneapolis, just come to the mayoral debate at 5 p.m. today in the Mississippi Room in

Coffman Union. Not only will you be able to ask Mayor R.T. Rybak and mayoral candidate Peter McLaughlin questions that you think need to be answered, but you can also pick up a nonpartisan voter’s guide for St. Paul and Minneapolis mayor and Minneapolis City Council. If you can’t make it to the debate, just go to www.mpirg.org; the guide is a mouse-click away. Voting is not a right, it is an obligation. Get informed and go vote (on Nov. 8, not Nov. 1, as it is marked in the prestigious Gopher Guide).

Katy Adams is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]