There is an often-quoted saying, “All politics is local.” But despite having a direct impact on some of the most important decisions in people’s daily lives, local elections tend to have a lower turnout than presidential and midterm elections.
Voters in several states—including Mississippi, Missouri, and Wisconsin—will have the opportunity to decide on new leaders, local initiatives, and taxes on Tuesday, April 6. It is yet to be seen if voter turnout will reflect renewed attention on local governments’ power and the importance of community-centered leadership over the past year.
Local elections occur every year in various jurisdictions across the country. Still, they are often relegated to second-tier status among elections with a lot of money, time, and attention focusing on national races.
Odd election years are generally referenced as an “off-cycle,” suggesting a break from political activity, which could not be further from the truth.
Those positioning the 2020 election to save democracy need to keep that same energy for local elections. Congress is important, but state and local officials have the ability to decide on matters directly impacting individual health, safety, and personal well-being. The local government levels are in many ways building blocks of democracy, and people’s ability to enjoy a basic quality of life and personal enjoyment often starts there.
With the 2021 municipal cycle underway, there are some opportunities for historic candidates to break barriers and shift leadership into the 21st century. Community-led news organizations like North Omaha Information Support Everyone (NOISE) in Omaha, NE help lead candidate forums for potential voters to learn more about the process.
Creating entry points to increased participation in local elections is a process that starts with stakeholders recognizing the importance and value of acting locally. Black voters and their interests are on the ballot across the country. Here are some of the races NewsOne will be watching Tuesday.
St. Louis, MO
Tuesday’s election will decide who will be the city’s next mayor. City Treasurer Tisharua Jones faces off with 20th ward Alderwoman Cara Spencer. The pair finished in the top two during the primary last month. If elected, Jones would be the city’s first Black woman mayor. Both women are single mothers of school-age children, marking another notable first for the city. But beyond representation and historical first, Jones and Spencer represent a shift in politics for the city.
In November, current Mayor Lyda Krewson announced she would not seek a second term. This race has gained national attention since Jones’ narrow loss in 2017. She has continued to develop a national network of support in addition to her St. Louis Coalition.
St. Louis voters will also have the opportunity to elect members of the Board of Alderman.
Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba faces two challengers in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. The primary winner will move on to the June 8 general election to face off against the Republican nominee and three independent candidates. City council races are also on the ballot, with contested races in six out of seven wards.
A progressive favorite, Lumumba, spoke recently with Politico about the challenges of bringing his vision of equity to life.
Several other municipal races are taking place in Mississippi, including in Vicksburg, where Warren County Supervisor for District 3 Shawn Jackson is running for Vicksburg Mayor. Jackson is one of three Democratic candidates in Tuesday’s primary. The winner of the primary will go on to the general election in June to face off against two independent candidates, including the current mayor, George Flaggs Jr. Flaggs was first elected in 2013.
Also, in Moss Point, Mississippi, Democratic residents will select a candidate to face off with the city’s Republican mayor and an independent challenger in the June 8 general election. Six candidates vie for the nomination in Tuesday’s primary, including State Rep. Jeramey Anderson.
Two Black women are among the five candidates on the ballot for mayor, including Mayor Jean Stothert, a Republican. Jasmine Harris and Kimara Snipes have called for leadership reflective of the community and in tune with the changing needs of a 21st century Omaha. Snipes is a current member of the Omaha Public School Board and the only challenger with elected experiences. Harris has a deep history in community activism, public health, and criminal justice. Both women are committed to a holistic approach to public safety, recognizing the value of an equitable investment in affordable housing and transportation.
The top two vote-getters will move on to Tuesday’s nonpartisan primary. Also on the ballot are seven city council seats, all of which are contested.
Omaha has gained particular interest as one of the few major cities with a Republican mayor. And in the 2020 election, the district containing Omaha went for Biden over Trump, leading some hopefuls to wonder if the city can indeed flip.
Madison & Milwaukee, WI
Several seats are up for consideration in Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Madison voters will select members for the common council and answer four referendum questions about the size of the common council, amount of compensation, length of terms, and term limits. Several Black candidates are up for consideration in the Madison Common Council election.
Milwaukee County voters will have the opportunity to select a new county circuit court judge. Endorsed by Black Leaders Organizing Communities (BLOC), Katie Kegel is viewed as a progressive voice on criminal justice issues. BLOC is a civic engagement organization rooted in the community in Milwaukee, taking on everything from pandemic mutual aid to voter engagement.
BLOC also endorsed Jilly Gokalgandh in the Milwaukee School District election for district 5. Two Black women Aisha Carr and Dana Kelley, are in a competitive race for the District 4 seat.
Voters statewide will select a new superintendent for public instruction.
All Politics is Local: Check Out These Local Elections Happening Tuesday was originally published on newsone.com