Local elections matter

Whether students realize it or not, the Decorah City Council has impacted their time at Luther. The city council has a direct influence on students’ experiences at Luther, on  everything from parks and trails, to roads, to our drinking water. Besides overseeing the basic necessities of Decorah, the city council also plays a crucial role in planning for the future. Currently, the city council is looking into a long-term plan, which will guide the direction of the city government over the next 10 years. Despite the city council’s imprint on the Luther community, student participation in local elections is sparse.

The Luther student body makes up roughly a quarter

of Decorah’s total population, yet this representation is not reflected in our impact on local elections. I’m unsure exactly why student participation in local elections is lackluster, but from what I have observed it boils down to three reasons. First, students view themselves as transient members in Decorah, rather than members of the larger community. This results in students not becoming invested in matters concerning Decorah. Secondly, some students do not believe municipal elections matter. This is related to the third point that students are simply not aware of the election, that is, who is running and what’s at stake.

However, Chips also bears responsibility for educating students on local matters. It is our job to explain the issues at hand and who is running, and it is Luther students responsibility to take time and learn about local elections. So I’ll start and give a brief rundown on who Luther students can vote for on Nov. 5.

This fall there are three seats up for election in the Decorah City Council, two of which Luther students can vote for. The first is Steve Luse who is running unopposed for Decorah’s fourth ward, which includes Farwell and Towers (Luther is split up into two wards, but that’s another issue). The second election is for the at-large seat which is held by Kirk Johnson (‘82). Johnson who is currently finishing his third non-consecutive term, is being challenged by Gary Rustad, who served on the Decorah City Council for 21 years until two years ago.

The people running for these seats will directly impact Decorah and by extension Luther. For that reason we will do our best to cover the candidates, and I hope students will attempt to learn about the local leaders who impact them.

Opinions expressed in columns and letters are those of the authors(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Chips or organizations with which the author(s) are associated.

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