Students are the missing voice in local elections

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See immediate change by becoming involved in local government, expert advises.

By Christian Erevia

With national elections taking over the news, it is easy for local elections to fall by the wayside. It is especially easy to dismiss local elections as a busy college student juggling classes, work and a social life.

Local elections should not be ignored, though, political science Adjunct Charles Mazuca said.

“Local elections should matter (to students) so that their demographic gets considered in local policies,” said Mazuca, who teaches U.S. government. “So in general, when more and different groups have a candidate respond to their preferences, that creates an expanded platform by that candidate.”

Bexar County has four upcoming elections including sheriff, tax assessor-collector, county commissioner and constable.

By participating in local elections and being involved in local policy, students make their voices, concerns and needs heard.

“Local elections are directly affecting them,” said Harley Williams, psychology sophomore and Student Government Association president. “People who are making, like, bus routes, bus laws, that kind of stuff, that’s going to affect them.”

“Someday, they’re going to pay taxes and that’s going to affect them,” Williams said. “It’s going to affect them now and it’s going to affect them later.”

Local elections determine which policies will be implemented, and without student and youth input, some policies will not benefit them.

“You can see your influence more immediately applied and implemented.” Mazuca said.

“The more variance there is among policy preferences of the electorate, the more diverse the policies are,” Mazuca said. “So for example, what would our current animal care services strategy look like if we had more young voters pressing their ideas to the elected officials on ways to diversify solutions to our overpopulation of pets?”

By voting and voicing their desires to those running for local elections, students have an opportunity to shape, diversify and expand on policies that affect them. Voting also gives students a say on the use of their taxes.

City Council offices can provide supplies and funds for community projects through their discretionary funds.

A group of college students used supplies given to them from a council office to clean and repair the home of a widow after her home did not pass city inspection, Mazuca said.

“If you can think of it, if you can have an idea about it, you know, you can probably get to it, and a lot of times that happens at the local level,” Mazuca said. “You see things happen on a weekly basis so you can make a difference that way. Implementation is immediate.”

Mazuca emphasized that the more diverse voters are in participating through the election process, then the more diverse city policies become.

“When we have fewer and fewer people deciding who our electors are, then we have fewer and fewer ranges of policy,” Mazuca said.

“In some districts, it only take 2,300 votes to get elected,” Mazuca said. “Students could have an elected official in each district anytime.”

As of spring 2016, this college had 18,248 students, according to this college’s website.

Voter registration ended Oct. 11, but for those who are registered, early voting begins today and runs through Nov. 4.

The last day to vote is Election Day, Nov. 8.


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