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The Journal Gazette

  • Jake Pickett

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 7:57 pm

Become an informed, active voter

Jake Pickett

Indiana voters will elect representatives for mayor, city council and clerk on Nov. 3. These offices don’t make headlines in the national news but, in many ways, they can affect our community as much, if not more, than any other offices. They are positions held by our neighbors, our coworkers and our peers, and they’re the people who will help guide Fort Wayne through this inspirational rise in civic engagement and pride.

Just 10 to 15 years ago, Fort Wayne was seeing its young professionals moving to Indianapolis, Chicago and other locales after graduating from college. Recently, however, there has been a shift, and more graduates are considering job opportunities here.

This year’s election will place leaders who will determine what this city has to offer to help retain and attract talent. Additionally, it will shape the type of community in which our children and grandchildren will grow up. Issues such as safety, education, entertainment, economic development and jobs are in the forefront. We have a hotly contested mayoral race and could have as many as seven new City Council members. Fort Wayne will have a new city clerk for the first time in more than 30 years.

Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana urges voters of all ages to pay attention to what the candidates are saying, doing and advocating.

As a nonpartisan organization that encourages young professionals to get involved, to make their mark, and to make their voices heard, we find it troubling that Indiana had the lowest voter turnout in the country last November. And the 9.8 percent turnout in the May primary election in Allen County was the lowest in history.

Whether that was due to misinformation, lack of information or just plain apathy, we’re not going to stand by and just hope more people turn out in November. YLNI is committed to doing something about it by hosting multiple events, in partnership with several other organizations, to help engage and educate voters.

On Thursday, YLNI will host a "Meet the Candidates" night. Candidates have been invited to give a short speech to let attendees know who they are and what they stand for. The event is from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Embassy Theatre and is open to members of the participating organizations.

On Oct. 8, YLNI will host "Rally the Vote" – a free, family-friendly block party open to the public from5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on the Landing on Columbia Street downtown. Voters can vote at the Rousseau Centre until4:30 p.m. then join us for music, food, beverages and outdoor games.

Just as important as increasing turnout is having informed voters. Each election year YLNI produces a candidate information brochure. It contains general background information on the candidates, including their answers to questions regarding community issues. The brochure also includes a description of each office on the ballot and general voting information.

More information on YLNI, the candidate brochure and these events can be found at ylni.org. Information on how to register and where to cast your vote can be found at indianavoters.in.gov.

No matter which side of the aisle you tend to stand on, or if you prefer to vote for a candidate instead of a party, please get educated, then exercise your right to vote.