Comment: Every four years, Americans flock to the polls to elect a new president. More than 155 million people voted last year, most of them just glad that the campaign was finally over for at least a minute.
Two years later, we have the mid-term elections to elect a new governor, and all members of the state and the US House of Representatives are standing for re-election. Next year, voters will be able to speak for the first time on the governor’s aggressive public health order to fight COVID-19.
In odd years like this, we get the ugly stepchild of the electoral system – local and school council elections. Unlike the big, national campaigns that can’t be ignored, local elections can sneak up on you. Early voting started on October 5th for this year’s election, which will be held on November 2nd.
A few years ago, lawmakers did a huge favor for voters by requiring that all local elections be held on the same day. This year, seats on Las Cruces City Council, Las Cruces Education Committee and Dona Ana Soil and Water Conservation Board, as well as similar bodies in smaller towns across the county, are at stake.
It is a transitional election for the city council, with two members stepping down to seek other positions. Gill Sorg will run for a seat on the Soil and Water Committee, while Gabe Vasquez looks ahead to the 2022 election to challenge MP Yvette Herrell for her seat in Congress.
Local elections can be much more difficult for voters. Since the elections are non-partisan, voters don’t just have to cast their vote for R or D.
And there won’t be many TV commercials to help candidates introduce themselves to voters. With two open seats, many candidates are running for the first time this year. This can make it difficult for voters to make an informed decision.
Fortunately, this year the COVID vaccines will allow for more normal campaigns where candidates can host meet-and-greets, go door-to-door, and participate in the other traditional campaign events to get their message across to voters.
Both the community radio KTAL-LP 101.5 FM and KRWG TV host candidate forums that will be available online. Local newspapers will also help provide information. And one of the best sources for voters is the candidate’s own website, where the message is always unfiltered.
Local elections may be more of a challenge for voters, but they are worth the effort. Decisions by the local city council and school board have a more immediate and direct impact on our daily lives than edicts coming down from Washongton, DC
Las Cruces City Council has raised the minimum wage for local workers before the state. We are still waiting for the congress. They were also ahead of the state and advocated banning plastic bags. And they are currently working on the thorny question of when your noisy neighbor will cross the line and be too loud for the law to allow.
The Las Cruces School Board attracted protests this year when it changed its curriculum to make it more inclusive for students of all cultures and nationalities. Several parents expressed concerns that the change would result in indoctrination of students and degradation of the prevailing culture.
We have the power to make these critical decisions by voting this year.