By Olayemi Odesanya
As some of us New Yorkers know, the NYC 2021 Municipal Elections is right around the corner. Some of us are aware of which local government positions are running for candidacy and the importance of casting our vote. But of course, there are a few of us in the population who don’t. This percentage of the population are not involved in their local city elections or merely interested as they are in presidential elections. It’s unfortunate to hear because the municipal election is just as prominent.
But what is a municipal election?
A municipal election is the process of electing a local official representing a particular town or city. Candidacy for this election ranges from Mayor to Civil Court Judges depending on the election year. Nationally, there are more than 30 mayoral elections currently running this year.
For NYC 2021 Municipal Election, there are currently fifty-eight seats running for candidacy. These positions include City Council, Borough Presidents, Public Advocate, City Comptroller and Mayoral. The general election will be held on November 2nd and the primary election on June 22nd. Earlier this year (in February and March), special elections were held for certain City Council Districts Members.
According to The Board of Elections, the purpose of the primary election is for voters to select their party’s nominees for the general election. Candidates who win the primaries move on to general election. Elected candidates during the general election become city officials.
The State of New York practices partisan election. This means the candidate party affiliation (including independent parties) will be indicated on the ballot. If you are a registered voter in New York, you would probably see public partisan offices like:
- President and Vice President of the United States
- United States Senators
- Members of the House of Representatives
- Governor and Lieutenant Governor of New York State
- State Attorney General
- State Senators
- State Assembly
- Public Advocate
- Surrogate Judges
- State Supreme Court Judges
- Civil Court Judges
Why voting in Municipal Elections is important?
Because people are not as interested in municipal elections, the public interest in voting is much lower. This also means there isn’t as much awareness or public broadcasting. Hence why, voting is important. Your personal vote could have bigger impact in the election results than expected.
While national government elects have prominent roles in our lives, local government officials have a larger impact. The local government determines the city’s policies and legislations. They are in charge of the city’s healthcare plans, crime resolutions, social issues, economy and etc. It is important to elect an official who values and has solutions to your concerns.
If it’s so important, why don’t more people care?
Just for my own curiosity, I asked a couple of my peers just to test a theory out “why do less people care about local elections?” The poll consisted of fifteen people who were either college graduates or current college students. The results I found was that the majority of them, didn’t really know what a municipal election is and the positions running for candidacy. And since they didn’t who was running for what, they were obviously not planning to vote in the upcoming elections. When I asked how come, some of them answered, “they didn’t see the importance of each elected position,” “they weren’t aware of their local elections” or just simply, “not interested in getting involved”. However, a few did say since they saw the impact of voting during the presidential election this past November, they vowed to get more into politics.
They mentioned they will be planning to vote in the upcoming elections and spread awareness to their peers and family members.
Of course, this is just one small sample of a selected population so they don’t necessary represent New York City but it was interesting to see how some young educated adults thought about their local elections. As I started to more research, I started to see similar responses as my peers.
How to become more involved in politics?
While it’s never too late to become more involved in politics, it’s an investment that people should consider. Even you don’t have the time to invest physically, here are some other ways to become more involved in politics:
- Advocating for your ideal political candidate: Volunteering on a political campaign is a very time consuming but can be very awarding. This includes but not limited to canvassing, phone banking, handing out flyers and other forms of propaganda.
- Educate yourself: While you might not have time to go and campaign for your ideal candidate, it is important to have knowledge of who is running for what position in the upcoming election. Take the time to learn the law and the importance of each political official.
- Donations: Donating to political campaigns are more than likely accepted by any running candidate or advocacy groups
It’s not too late to register to vote! The deadline is Friday May 28 and early voting begins on Saturday June 12. For more information check out https://www.vote.nyc/.