Don’t discount state and local elections

By Noah Davis, Staff Writer

With all the chaos surrounding this presidential race, it has been a refreshing change of pace to focus my attention on the candidates running for office at the state and local levels. Until this crisis, so many Americans had little to no clue who their state and local public officials were, including what they stand for or what they have done since entering office if they are campaigning for re-election. Never in my life did I think I would see so much attention given to decisions made by mayors, governors, school board members or local prosecutors.

National elections gain the most publicity. While I am sure there is some coverage of state or city-wide races on local news channels, most fail to notice how important of a role local institutions play in our lives. Those mayor and gubernatorial elections will be making the executive decisions, from details of lockdown plans, overseeing the logistical complexity of vaccine distribution when the day comes — fingers crossed — rapid testing initiatives and reopening schools and businesses. These are not simple tasks, nor can we afford to convince ourselves to ignore policymakers who play an imperative role in public health, business and education.

Researching the pros and cons of proposed ballot measures has also been a respite from the emotionally charged tenor of political discourse today. I felt relief from reading the following source providing balanced, dispassionate representations of what voting yes or no entails for measures in Illinois, along with reputable facts and statistics illuminating potential costs and benefits of each measure proposed.

The debate surrounding propositions is independent of character attacks and headlines diverting attention from substantive issues at hand. According to a source from Ballotpedia, you can evaluate a thorough nonpartisan analysis of the Graduated Income Tax Amendment being voted on this year in the state of Illinois. This measure would repeal the state’s constitutional requirement from 1970 that state personal income taxes are enacted at a flat rate, leading the way for the Illinois state income tax to go from a flat rate to six graduated rates, which would go into effect Jan. 1. 

As undergraduates are close to entering the workforce, all elections and ballot measures this year will play an integral role in how the first few years of post-graduate life will play out. In this way, especially at state and local levels, whatever side of the aisle you are on or your personal stance on candidates and what the most salient issues are, it is important we do we what we can to make our voices heard in influencing how our communities will look a few years from now. As a plus, if you tell your friends you have done your research on local races and down-ballot measures, friends will likely take your word for it because they might be too lazy to look into these topics themselves. 

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Noah is a senior in Business.

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