Election season is far from over, and that’s a good thing.
Topeka is currently in the midst of an election for a new mayor. Larry Wolgast, current acting major, announced earlier this year that he would not be seeking re-election. Following the announcement, five candidates stepped forward with bids to take his place: Michelle De La Isla, Spencer Duncan, Chris Schultz, Clark Trammell and Mark Weiser.
The candidates engaged in a primary election over the course of the summer, which ended with De La Isla and Duncan emerging as finalists. De La Isla secured 41.29 percent of primary votes, and Duncan 21.19 percent.
The problem with this, however, is that these percentages are derived from the 8,644 total votes that were cast in the 2017 primary election. However, Topeka’s total population at that time was 126,808. While not all of these individuals are necessarily eligible voters, surely more than 8,644 Topekans would like to have their voices heard.
Low voter turnouts are a consistent problem throughout the United States. Almost half of eligible voters did not vote in the 2016 presidential election, and almost assuredly the turnouts for local elections aren’t much better.
While local elections don’t receive as much coverage, excitement or debate as the presidential elections have over the years, they can have just as big of an impact a major effect on one’s daily life.
Our local elected officials oversee the laws that dictate our community, as well as budget our tax dollars to maintain our infrastructure, better our social programs and keep us safe. The decisions that they make affect each of us. It’s best to make sure that the ones in office are those that best represent you.
An example of a state official’s decision that students and faculty could be personally be impacted by would be Governor Sam Brownback’s attempted hike of the state liquor tax. Brownback attempted to pass a bill earlier this year which would have raised the liquor tax from 8 percent to 16 percent, a steep and sudden price hike not everyone could afford.
It’s important to research candidates so as to become an informed voter that is actively involved in the election process. That’s why we at the Washburn Review strongly encourage all those eligible to vote to participate Nov. 7 in the mayoral general election.
We encourage you to conduct your own research to select the candidate who best represents your beliefs.
Come Nov. 7, the Review hopes the Washburn community will be well represented in the voter turnouts. Here’s to a mayor that will help Washburn and Topeka grow together.