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In our opinion: Tuesday’s election will affect you more than you may think

SHARE In our opinion: Tuesday’s election will affect you more than you may think
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Kat Payne casts a ballot early at the Salt Lake County Clerk’s Office in Salt Lake City on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

It’s hardly coincidence Salt Lake City’s historic mayoral race coincides with other intersections of women and democracy. Saturday, Nov. 2, marked 99 years from the first election held after women secured the right to vote. And Sunday was the 123rd anniversary of Martha Hughes Cannon’s election to the Utah Legislature where she became the first U.S. woman to serve as a state senator.

Now, Utah’s capital is poised to decide the outcome of the city’s first all-female mayoral race. It’s another great moment in the state’s history, but like all achievements in American democracy, history is usually determined by those who show up and vote.

Tomorrow, Nov. 5, is Election Day, and we urge all eligible Utahns who live in cities with elections this year to exercise their voting rights and capitalize on a vital opportunity to shape their communities. 

Municipal representatives have a direct effect on the amount of taxes you pay, the roads you drive on and the businesses that flock to your city. They shape law enforcement, public safety and community ideals. Though off-year elections may lack publicity and the thrill of national politics, they have an outsize impact on your day-to-day living.

For the unacquainted, here is a snapshot of races and issues around the state:

In Salt Lake City, voters will choose between state Sen. Luz Escamilla and Salt Lake Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall to represent them as their next mayor. The winner will need to quickly assess the homeless situation as the downtown Road Home closes and winter weather sets in. Doubts remain that the city is equipped with enough beds, and finding immediate shelter for those on the street should be a priority.

Long-term issues will include updating the city’s mass transportation plan, reducing air pollution, hashing out disputes with the state over an inland port and finding solutions to a shortage of affordable housing.

Across Salt Lake County, West Jordan and Millcreek also have mayoral elections, and residents in newly incorporated Brighton get to choose their first mayor and city council members.

Davis County has a number of city council races, and Layton is holding a mayoral election.

In Utah County, cities are holding local council races, and Provo voters will face the question of funding a $245 million bond for school rebuilds and upgrades.

And in an experiment that could have consequences for Utah elections down the road, Vineyard and Payson are holding the state’s first elections by ranked-choice voting, a system some experts believe produces more moderate and representative outcomes.

At the end of the day, Tuesday’s outcomes will have a greater bearing on Utahn’s lives than many realize, and in races that easily can be decided by a handful of votes, the ramifications are too great to stay at home.

Visit vote.utah.gov or call your county clerk to learn more about candidates in your area and to find ballot drop-off locations. If not delivered in person, mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 4.