Letter to the Editor: NU students, vote in upcoming local election

Municipal elections matter. The lower salience of local elections in the public consciousness means higher turnout can significantly influence election results. And although the majority of Northwestern students are not Evanston natives, local elected officials impact students in more tangible ways than we think.

Social policy, from policing to inclusivity for immigrants, is shaped by city leadership. Following the November 2016 presidential election, the City of Evanston strengthened its city code to make it a “welcoming city,” also known as a sanctuary city. The code protects undocumented immigrants from intimidation, the release of information on immigration status and police holds for immigration authorities.

The local government, in addition to encouraging economic development and managing real estate development and renovation, manages public services like sidewalks, bike lanes, traffic lights, street lighting and cleaning, recycling, parks and water production.

Evanston’s mayor has played a significant role in shaping the relationship between the city and the University, a relationship that is recovering from a strained town-gown dynamic. Evanston’s mayor also serves as the city’s liquor commissioner and chair of the Liquor Control Review Board, which considers the implementation and revocation of liquor licenses. The 1st Ward alderman also serves on Evanston’s Northwestern University-City Committee, which meets to resolve issues from construction to noise complaints.

Evanston city officials serve four years. Don’t pass up your chance to vote just because you’re not quite settled into the local community. Moving off campus, working locally and learning more about Evanston’s history and residents helps many students feel more invested in the city.

In local elections, the rate of incumbency reelection is high. If local policy doesn’t convince you to get out to vote, consider how incumbency might lead officials to achieve higher office. Even if you’re leaving the Evanston area, you may want to consider the values and policies of officials who very well may end up making lasting impacts in the area or as they pursue higher office.

Find out how to register and vote in Evanston for the April 4 election and access information about candidates at NUvotes.org.

Center for Civic Engagement student fellows

Steffany Bahamon, McCormick ’17
Simran Chadha, Communication ’17
Jourdan Dorrell, Weinberg ’17
Michael Hopkins, McCormick and Bienen ’17
Hayeon Kim, Weinberg ’17
Shoshi Shapiro, SESP ’17
Joyce Wang, Weinberg ’17
Ashley Wood, Weinberg ’17