Local Candidates Discuss Importance of Youth Vote

Evelyn Yang, Reporter

Many issues and positions that influence the community on a regional scale will be decided on Nov. 7 in the upcoming Washington state general elections. Although most high school students have not yet reached the legal voting age, the voices of young people can still make a difference in local elections.

“This is what they call an ‘off-year’ election, since most congressional races and statewide Washington state races are not happening this year,” said Bob Swain, a candidate for the Northshore School Board. “In an off-year election voter turnout is fairly low, so even a moderate young voter turnout can have a huge impact on local elections.”

Joanna Wyler
Election yard signs on 60th Ave NE display local candidates’ names, positions and taglines. While many politicians also utilize door-to-door tactics and the media, most use these traditional election signs near busy streets and intersections to raise awareness for their campaigns.

Even students that are not yet of voting age can still improve their knowledge of local issues. Aaron Moreau-Cook, a candidate for the Bothell City Council, said that everyone can make their voices stronger by being well-informed.

“Hearing the voice from all people is important,” Moreau-Cook said. “[But] younger voters are voting on issues that will impact them the longest.”

Judge Michael Spearman, a returning candidate for the Division I Court of Appeals, said that it can be difficult for students to feel motivated about local issues that are unrelated to their own lives. However, he said that there are many issues that relate to everyone, no matter their age.

“Local elections give us control over issues and candidates that directly affect the communities we live in,” Spearman said. “We should always try to be an educated voter on local matters.”

He said that national elections often seem driven by ideology and party affiliation, so their results can “appear to be less direct” in their connection with personal economic and social life.

On the other hand, Spearman said that engagement with community issues will actually aid in the search for answers to “intractable problems” such as economic inequality and racial bias. This will consequently prepare young people to be more active citizens on a greater scale.

“The future of our nation and the world is in each of your hands,” Spearman said. “Paying attention to local elections is a great way to start. The first thing each of you should do on your 18th birthday is register to vote and then vote in every election you can.”