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General elections should not ignore smaller candidates

Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 04:11

Students at USF should be lauded for their turnout at the polls Tuesday. From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., the length of the line stayed strong as voters cast their ballots, and 61 percent of the on-campus precinct voted.

But most in line were full of gusto in hopes of either bringing President Barack Obama his second term or former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney his first.

Names like Elizabeth Belcher and Tom Lee, or Shawn Harrison and Mark Danish —candidates running for state senators and representatives — may as well have been Greek to many.

The victors of state and local elections are often voted upon based on the victors of federal elections, riding on their coattails and grateful to the voters who vote down party lines.

But state and local elections should be equally as important this season to USF voters.

Legislators at this level are the ones who make the decisions that most directly impact students — they determine whether our tuition goes up or down, the budgets for our universities and the policies that affect what routes we can take to school.

Particularly after a contentious legislative season last spring that initially saw USF’s budget docked by almost half, the holders of those seats are also the public officials USF students have most direct access to and the ones they should most expect to see accountability from.

One would think that voting for those with USF pedigree would bode for the best interest of USF students. But that did not prove to be wholly true as the six USF alumni in the state Congress were of little help to USF during its time of duress, nor did they do much for advocating for the plight of the USF student.

But too often, state and local legislators get a free pass because of the lack of attention given to them. While the results of the elections streamed in early, few noticed as the hype for the presidential candidate surmounted.

Perhaps the only attention paid to any of the representatives nationally were to those who made the news for all the wrong reasons in the past year — losers Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock and Joe Walsh, who made controversial and outlandish statements about women, abortions and rape.

But students should pay attention to those who will be making decisions to dig deeper — or not — into their pockets in a few months.


Divya Kumar is a junior majoring in mass communications and economics.
 

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