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Editorial: Local elections are more important than ever in Trump era

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Immediately following President Trump’s inauguration, Americans got to work demonstrating at political marches in cities across the United States and protesting at airports following the now-stalled travel ban. These protests, and the political momentum powering them, illustrate that Trump’s noxious agenda will not be enacted without a fight.

Although resistance to the current administration is vital, perhaps the most direct route into the political fray for Northwestern students and Evanston residents is in local politics. In the Trump era, local politics are more important than ever.

For NU students, city politics is often a subject of humor: from closed beloved bars to fake mayoral Twitter accounts. But local issues and policies impact students’ everyday lives. For example, the city must approve the University’s proposed construction of a new dorm on south campus (not to mention the potential Insomnia Cookies in downtown Evanston), the city had to OK bike lanes and a reduced speed limit on Sheridan Road, and the city must determine whether it upholds its status as a “welcoming city” if faced with federal funding cuts. Presidential elections and national politics may dominate Facebook and Twitter feeds, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the significance of local politics.

Evanston’s mayoral primary lies just around the corner. This year, early voting opens in one week (Feb. 13) and Election Day is two more weeks out (Feb. 28). Northwestern students are eligible to vote in Evanston regardless of their permanent address and can register to vote at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center, NU Center for Civic Engagement or online through NUVotes.org.

Just last month, the president signed an executive order pulling funding from sanctuary cities and threatening to punish those who resist efforts to deport undocumented immigrants who live there. Evanston is effectively a sanctuary city, and the executive order may just be the harbinger of the moves Trump’s administration will make to thrust itself into local issues and infringe on localities’ rights. Outgoing Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl responded strongly to the order, issuing a statement reaffirming the city’s position and the “rights of all our residents, including immigrants, to live their lives in our community safely and without fear.”

We applaud Mayor Tisdahl for standing up to politicians who threaten the wellbeing of Evanston residents, a part of her character also exemplified in her time spent expressing opposition to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda, which advocates for a property tax freeze and would have made it possible for Evanston to declare bankruptcy.

We need a new Evanston mayor who will lobby state and national leaders on behalf of Evanston residents even more forcefully than Tisdahl has. This volatile political period calls for strong local leadership, and NU students should give Evanston’s upcoming mayoral election the attention and focus it deserves.

The Daily is holding a debate Tuesday — in partnership with Northwestern University Political Union — with all five candidates, and we urge our readers to follow the discussion and inform themselves about the candidates and issues that animate this election. Mayoral elections may not flood your social media channels, but they do matter. All the more so given the condition of our state and federal government.

This piece represents the majority opinion of the Editorial Board of The Daily Northwestern. The Editorial Board has an “Editorial Corps” responsible for selecting and producing editorials with feedback from the rest of the board. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members or Editorial Board members of The Daily Northwestern.

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