Poll Booth Politics

Cartoon by Julie Gundersen.
Cartoon by Julie Gundersen.
Cartoon by Julie Gundersen.

The time of the year where we go to the polls is upon us again. And this year (like every year) in New Paltz, it matters.

This year’s New Paltz Town Supervisor race features two candidates: Randall Leverette and Susan Zimet.  Leverette, the Chairman of the Town of New Paltz Police Commission, is running on the principles of process over politics, transparency and a collaborative government. Zimet, the current New Paltz town supervisor, said her main focus is to keep taxes down in New Paltz.

The question is, how many students are seeing the names Zimet and Leverette for the first time? On top of that, how many had no idea what their positions on local issues are before reading this editorial?

We at The New Paltz Oracle feel that every student who’s registered to vote in New Paltz should be educated on the vote and then should definitely be at the polls on Nov. 5.

We’ve written editorials like this before, many times in fact. But we will say this year after year after year—your vote matters, especially in local government elections.

We understand some students might think they shouldn’t care about this election because it’s a small town affair, or they don’t consider themselves full-time New Paltz residents, but, in reality, we spend more time at school than we do at home. The decisions made during this election do directly affect our experiences here.

Among some of the candidates’ priorities are taxes in the town and the town and village master plan, both of which are issues that may not have the most noticeable impact on students. However, each candidate has brought up Park Point and lighting on Plattekill, two issues that will have a direct and immediate effect on students.

We live on a campus with students who want to call themselves politically active, and socially conscious people. However, the voter turn-out at every election is abysmal, with some years not even reaching 10 student voters. We’re a school of 7,767.

It’s too often that we as an activist community will care about an issue, voice our support or discontent with that issue and then neglect to do one of the most basic things you can do to make change when it matters.

It’s especially important for us to participate and engage in local government. As opposed to a national election where your individual goes toward the electoral count and could potentially be meaningless, your individual vote for a government official is counted as an individual vote. It matters. One more person at the polls this year could swing the election one way or the other.

We urge students to not only be aware of political issues when election day comes around, but to be aware all year of every year. The greatest enemy of progress is apathy. Our home for 10 months out of the year deserves time, energy and attention.

Regardless of how you vote, your presence at the polls is the least you can offer. It’s not often that students have the opportunity to actually facilitate the sorts of change they talk about regularly. Do not waste this opportunity.