Why students should vote in local politics

By Tom Hawley, Contributing Writer

Many people pay closer attention to politics at the international and national levels than they do to political events closer to home. This is understandable. Major events on these levels tend to dominate the news and they occasionally are of greater importance than politics at the local level.

Still, state and local-level politics can be of considerable significance to one’s daily life. It’s for this reason that college students should be aware of local political issues and vote in local elections just like any other.

One reason is because local politics are often of more immediate relevance to one’s day-to-day life than events far away. The mayor and city council of your town, the composition of the school board, or the kinds of local ordinances under which you live can all have a profound impact. College-age voters are affected by these kinds of things just as much as any other person, so even if you’re living here for just a few years it’s still a good idea to be informed on the issues, vote, and get involved.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the tuition you pay to attend a public university like EWU. Your representatives in the Washington State Legislature make major decisions every year concerning how much tuition you pay. That amount has gone up significantly in the last five years. Locally-elected representatives (Cheney is in the 9th Legislative District), make those decisions. But because college-age students vote in such low numbers, elected representatives have very little incentive to pay attention to their concerns. Instead, the voices of those who do participate get heard.

So, while it might not seem like it matters much, local politics has real effects on the lives of everyone and therefore deserves your careful attention.