Election Day comes once a year like a birthday or holiday. But the aftereffects of this day last a lot longer than the sugar rush of eating too many cupcakes on that special occasion. This year, the stakes rise to a whole new level in the New Jersey Legislative Elections to be held on Tuesday, Nov. 6. All 40 seats in State Senate and 80 seats in the Assembly will be determined. The fate of these 120 seats rests in the hands of voters, students included, and it comes at a pivotal point in the state’s history. Currently, the glamour of the 2008 presidential race that is already well under way may have us a bit distracted.
The issues driving this election range from property taxes to ethics reform in Trenton to the state debt. Students must overcome the myths that plague many in our generation that “my vote won’t really matter” and that they are immune from the political issues. We are the next generation of leaders who will inevitably inherit the problems that politicians leave unresolved. Let’s cut through the rhetoric and realize what truly matters.
Students are all too familiar with debt from the loans they take out to pay for tuition, and room and board. But New Jersey has run up a debt to the tune of more than $33 billion. Most students can run up a hefty credit card bill in just one night of shopping at the mall. Yet the dire fiscal straits New Jersey faces have been years in the making. Unfortunately, it is not a problem that will be solved overnight.
Although many students have probably heard their parents gripe about property taxes, it’s easy to shrug them off since we won’t be buying a home in the foreseeable future. But the day will come soon enough when we have that degree from Rider framed and are looking for our first job and place to live. Affordable housing is hard to come by in New Jersey, especially in areas experiencing economic growth. High property taxes are proving to be a credible reason as to why many, including young New Jerseyans, are leaving the state in an exodus of talent.
Corruption is another major concern for voters this year. Over the past six years, New Jersey’s U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie has successfully prosecuted 100 local and public officials for corruption, bribery and extortion. While many laugh at the jokes the late-night comedians make about the ethical woes of political leaders in New Jersey, it is a serious issue that may be keeping students away from the polls.
The election this year is a chance for all of us to make an impact on our world at the local level. It’s an opportunity for us to send a signal to the politicians that we will not be taken for granted. Rightfully, “Politics, it seems to me, for years, or all too long, has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong,” said author Richard Armour. If we would all spend a fraction of the amount of time spent searching Facebook to research the policies, students would be aware of the issues and candidates.
Let’s not allow the politicians to decide our fate. Pulling the lever or filling out the absentee ballot is not only a vote for candidates; it’s a show of faith in the political system.
Written By Opinion Editor, Jamie Papapetros