Illustration by staff illustrator Sakura Siegel.
As the United States seems to become more divided, politics is something that seems to become more prevalent in our daily lives.
The 2022 midterm elections showed that young voters are engaged with politics, as it had the second highest youth turnout since the last election. However, with this increase, other important aspects of politics have been overshadowed, most importantly, local elections.
Hudson County Elections Division Supervisor Brittany Bunney, stated that while the use of early voting and mail-in ballots has increased since the 2020 election, younger voters still lack engagement.
“I think younger voters are not as engaged as we would like to see with local elections,” Bunney told Slice of Culture. “We would always like to see more young voters and voters in general engaged in elections across the board.”
Ginger Gold-Schnitzer, Executive Director of the Saint Peter’s University Guarini Institute weighed in on why she feels local elections do not get the attention they should.
“During the U.S. Presidential election, anyone who watches TV, listens to the radio, or uses the internet is bombarded with images, commercials, and the opportunity to see debates in prime time. Even U.S. Senate elections are pretty easy to follow. Local elections, however, only get coverage in the most local of publications– unless there is a scandal,” Gold-Schnitzer said.
When talking to college aged voters, many had little knowledge or expressed disinterest in local politics.
“While I do vote, I don’t really feel that my vote matters,” said Matthew Russell, a 22 year-old lifelong resident of Jersey City.
“When you look at all the popular candidates around Jersey City, I feel as though it is really just those with the most money behind them that are going to win.”
However, not all younger voters feel the same way.
Jamie Suarez, Senior at Saint Peter’s University and intern for Jersey City Councilmember Mira Prinze-Arey, felt that many people underestimate how important local elections can be.
“Many people disregard state and municipal elections yet don’t realize how much local policies shape your everyday life; how much you’re getting taxed, how many funds are being allocated for services like parks and recreation or public safety, who is truly representing you and advocating for your interests,” said Suarez.
But Suarez added that she felt many of her peers were not as educated as they should be.
“I think that there is not enough effort being made for the youth for them to take part in civic engagement, which is due to lack of education,” said Suarez. “I believe that the institutions in place should facilitate more in encouraging civic participation for young voters.”
According to Gold-Schnitzer, another way to solve this problem is to just show up to meetings, whether it be in person or online.
City Council meetings are held on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month at 6:00 p.m., unless otherwise designated.
The Council typically meets on the first and third Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall.
City Council meets on Wednesdays at Municipal Building, 630 Avenue C, at 6:00 or 7:00 p.m..
The Union City Board of Commissioners meets at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays.
North Bergen Board of Commissioners meets at the municipal building on 4233 Kennedy Blvd, at either 11:00 a.m. or 5:00 p.m. on Wednesdays.
West New York
The mayor and Board of Commissioners meet via Zoom every four weeks on Wednesdays or Tuesdays.
Mayor and City Council meetings occur every other Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. at the Municipal Government Center, 1203 Paterson Plank Road.
The City Council meets every other Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.
Town Council meetings occur every other Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. in the municipal building, 400 Park Avenue.
Town Council meetings occur every other Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Council Chambers, 318 Harrison Avenue.
Council meetings occur every other Monday at 3:00 or 4:00 p.m. at Guttenberg Resource Center, 7002 Boulevard East.
“The best way to get to know who represents you in your local community and what decisions they are making on your behalf is to check out a meeting, in person or online, ” said Gold-Schnitzer.
“Some voters feel uncomfortable about choosing between candidates about whom they know little. It is ironic that candidates running for the offices closest to us, can also seem the most remote from us.”