Local elections in five Miami-Dade County municipalities take place next week. Voters will cast ballots on Nov. 7. in Hialeah, Homestead, Miami, Miami Beach and Surfside. Everyone who is registered should exercise their right, say Amanda Knapp, a coordinator for FIU's Ferre Institute of Leadership and Civic Engagement and Katherine Mesa, a political science major and Ferre Fellow.
The two share a bit of insight to motivate voters to hit the polls.
Why should voters participate in local elections, which seem much less imporant than state or federal contests?
Knapp: Local elections affect us through everything that has to do with our daily lives. Municipalities generally take responsibility for parks and recreation services, police and fire departments, housing services, emergency medical services, municipal courts and transportation services.
The recurring narriative is that young people feel powerless at a time of great political diviide. How can we find hope through civic engagement?
Mesa: It's important we challenge those perspectives and actually show up to the polls to vote for what we care about. I really believe Gen Z is a generation of change. We're constantly challenging the systems and norms. I have a very optimistic view of our future.
Knapp: As we saw in the midterm elections last year, youth throughout the country turned out in historic numbers. But I will point out that Miami-Dade and South Florida turnouts were among the lowest in the country. We can't effect change it we don't act, if we don't vote.
Where do I find out about my local candidates?
Knapp: You have to educate yourself by going to each candidate's web page or social media. You have to do research, to look up the candidates and any referendums that might be on the ballot. Try to make an informed decision by reading and talking with people. I ask my friends who they’re supporting. You really have to do some research.
Any additional resources we should know about?
Sample ballots can be viewed at the official Miami-Dade County elections web site. There you can generate a customized sample ballot that looks like the one you will see in the voting booth on election day.
For more about voting, watch the Ferre Institute’s “Voter Education Series” in partnership with Miami-Dade College on Youtube.