Opinion: Local elections make a difference in your life

In 2016, Juneau voters made decisions about marijuana laws and a 3% local tax. Well, actually, 1 out of every 3 Juneau voters made that decision, because only 33.5% of us voted.

I’d like to see that change.

Keith Ellison, the Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee, addressed a large group of Democratic state legislators attending a national conference last month in Boston.

Ellison, who is also a congressman, joked that as one of 435 members, he wonders how much of a difference he can make in the daily lives of Americans.  He contrasted this with the feeling that that when he served in the Minnesota Legislature, his decisions had much more of an impact in the lives of everyday people.

Local elections determine local conditions
That’s even more true with elected officials serving on our Assembly and School Board.  Our Assembly has the authority to close a swimming pool; increase bus service; or raise or lower your taxes and corresponding services.  School Boards have the authority to start school earlier or later; add or subtract art or music classes; and maintain nursing staff.

These bodies set the tone in our community:

  • The Assembly and the School Board determine the tenor of labor relations with employees – employees who are our families, neighbors, friends, and customers.
  • Their attitude establishes whether there is respect for all citizens.
  • Both bodies make appointments to various committees which establish policies on everything from the operation of the hospital and harbors to school site councils.

In short, it is critical to vote in local elections.  On Tuesday, October 3rd, you can vote at your precinct any time between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Election resources
This link will help you find where your precinct polling place is located: Local Precinct Map. If you have questions, you can also check the CBJ Elections page or call our City Clerk’s office (907-586-5278).

If you find yourself at the wrong precinct and short of time, you can vote a question ballot.

Will you be gone on election day and want to request an absentee ballot?  Do so soon: the application must be received seven days prior to the election and must be returned postmarked by election day.  Here’s the link to the application.

Finally, you may want to do want many others are doing: vote absentee in person.  You can do that beginning Monday, September 18th.  Here’s the exact schedule and locations:

City Hall Conference Room Foyer

  • Mondays-Fridays September 18 through October 2
  • 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Mendenhall Mall Annex

  • (near State of Alaska Division of Elections Office)
  • Mondays-Fridays September 18 through October 2
  • 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. AND
  • Saturdays, September 23 and 30 from noon to 4:00 p.m.

Congressman Ellison shared many insights regarding the federal government and national issues, but he stressed that building communities begins from the ground up.

Remember to vote on October 3rd, and remind others to vote too!

– Mary

This article was completed with the tremendous assistance of a local Democrat who prefers to remain anonymous. But I wanted to say “thanks” anyway! What you did made a difference, and I appreciate it! – Mary

The views in this opinion piece are those of the author. They are not official positions of TongassDemocrats.com or the Tongass Democrats.

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