By Abigail Olson ’19

It’s difficult to forget that this is an election year. The yard signs come out, the T.V. ads get aggressive, and the bumper stickers demand to be recognized. Politics, predictions, and polls are on everyone’s mind these days, and with all of the chaos surrounding two very famous (or infamous) presidential candidates, it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of electing a new president. Understandable yes, but I think many of us lose sight of the equally important elections of our local and state representatives.

Of course the person we elect as president wields a tremendous amount of power and represents the United States to the world. But it is our local leaders that more often affect and change our daily lives. These are the elected men and women through whom we as citizens have direct access to engage in the democratic process. These are the leaders responsible for listening to us, advocating for us, and working with us to create the town or district or state we envision for ourselves as a community. So let us not lose focus of the great honor and responsibility it is to elect our local leadership, and let us vote wisely.

So wherever it is you call home, get involved, be engaged, and know whom you’re voting for— but not only in your hometowns and home states, here in this Hill home too.  Be conscious and participate in the critical election of Minnesota’s second district state representative. This year’s election is incredibly important and for those of you that aren’t sure why, here’s a quick overview of the political landscape around our beloved Northfield area.

On November 8th (probably a date you should write down) the U.S. electorate will vote for our next president and the citizens of Minnesota’s second district will vote between the Democrat candidate Angie Craig and the Republican candidate Jason Lewis. Republican John Kline held this congressional seat for seven terms and when he decided not to run for re-election, it left the seat open to two political newcomers. Without an incumbent candidate, the race has been close and contested.  Considered a swing district, second district citizens voted for a Republican congressman for the last fourteen years, but they also voted for President Obama in both the 2008 and 2012 elections. This crucial matchup between Craig and Lewis may turn a historically red district blue or continue an unusual trend of split ballot voting and electing. This race has been referred to as one of the most watched and anticipated representative elections in the nation, and it’s happening right here in St. Olaf’s district.

So students, peers, and fellow members of our community: be an active participant. Take initiative to further research these candidates, be in dialogue about the issues they stand for, and if you are a U.S. citizen, vote. This election matters because our community matters.

I also want to acknowledge that this article is centered on election issues for domestic students and U.S. citizens. For international students though, just because you cannot cast a ballot does not mean you cannot be engaged and involved with American politics, especially at the local level. For four years at least, this is your home too and it would be a terrible loss if your voice were not heard within the civil society and the democratic process in our community.

Editor’s Note:

Angie Craig Site: http://www.angiecraig.com

Jason Lewis Site: https://join.jasonlewis2016.com