The Importance of Local Elections

They may be not as exciting or high-profile as the U.S. Presidential primaries, but for those registered to vote in Cambridge, the municipal elections on November 5 are a great opportunity to become politically engaged and make our voices heard in our city. The election of Cambridge City Councilors has a tremendous impact on the life of Harvard students, and for the broader community. The City Council can act on issues important to college students, such as affordable housing, public transportation, climate change, and bike- and pedestrian-friendly roads. Young people, and college students specifically, seldom turn out to vote in high numbers. In Cambridge, a city teeming with college students, it is essential that we vote to express our priorities and these issues that affect our lives. Without this civic engagement, our concerns can be disregarded by public officials.

For example, Cambridge, the Greater Boston area, and large cities around the country have struggled to provide affordable housing. For those of us who would like to remain in this area after graduation, or live in some other urban area, affordable housing is a crucial issue that must be addressed by the local government. However, progress only comes by first electing candidates who recognize the problem at hand and make housing a priority in their campaign. Although issues such as affordable housing are localized, progress made here in Cambridge and Boston can lead to other cities enacting similar policies that can create a national movement to drive down housing costs for recent graduates and working families.

When voting, students must reflect on what values and issues are most important to them and find a candidate that shares their concerns and outlook on the community. Responsible voting involves taking time to learn about all the candidates and their policy platforms before making an informed decision on which candidate aligns most closely with one’s own beliefs. By making the effort to educate oneself on an upcoming election, the youth voice can be heard in local governments and young people in our community, and in the rest of the country, can be inspired and motivated to become more civically engaged.

Image Credit: Flickr / Democracy Chronicles

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