Potholes, parks and public parking.
The stereotypical duties of city government aren’t usually the ones that grab the headlines or invoke outcry. That is, until you look deeper.
In Spokane, the influence can be seen in the everyday life of all Gonzaga community members.
Local government maintains the roads and sidewalks you trek to campus, it funds the schools whose students receive mentoring or tutelage from Zags, it is a factor in the city’s housing crisis that has first years scrambling to secure a house years in the future, as well as the congestion clogging commutes through the city and it is charged with assisting the poor and vulnerable who occupy Spokane streets.
On Tuesday, ballots are due in one of the most significant elections in Spokane’s recent history and with the presidential election still a year away and the lure of the midterm election having worn off, voter participation during this off-year isn’t guaranteed.
A new mayor and City Council president will be elected, in addition to three City Council members. Spokane Public School Board also has three positions up for grabs.
With homelessness increasing in visibility, housing supply plummeting and roads being a constant topic of conversation, the list of tasks awaiting the elected candidates does not lack in length, urgency or seriousness.
The decisions made by voters in the next week will have repercussions long after many of us GU students have left the city, but that makes the need for Zag participation and engagement even more prevalent.
I understand the allure of federal government outweighs the attractiveness of Spokane. Donald Trump is a sexier topic than bond measures. Supreme Court proceedings are more groundbreaking than a City Council meeting and local initiatives just don’t have the same appeal as impeachment inquiries. But that doesn’t mean voters can disregard democracy and forgo local participation.
In fact, the propositions on your local ballot and the City Council candidates jockeying to represent you, will present a much more immediate and real impact on the daily life of a college student.
Whether you plan to stay in Spokane for the foreseeable future or it is simply a pitstop on the path, it is every person’s responsibility to pay attention to the city’s politics.
GU is the university it is and Spokane is the city it now resembles because of concentrated efforts by dutiful civil servants.
For months now, I’ve covered local politics in cities across Washington state.
Yes, the candidates can be kooky. No, the issues aren’t always groundbreaking. However, the passion of political candidates at the local level is unmatched.
These civil servants have chosen to put their lives on hold all for the aspiration of representing the communities they love. Democracy takes more than just voters, it requires candidates who care about their hometowns and are willing to put themselves in the public-eye with the hopes of improving their city.
Now, in Spokane and in your own hometown, it is time for you to do your part.
Read your local newspaper, scour the county election guide and vote. GU makes it easy for Zags to stay informed with a free subscription to The Spokesman-Review, as well as political coverage which was printed in the Bulletin over the last three weeks.
There is no excuse to not be informed or to opt out of voting. If you can participate you should, because for many people across the world, the right to vote isn’t guaranteed.