Go loco for local politics

by Beacon Staff • September 23, 2009

junkies will be on cloud nine, and most Boston students will scratch their heads, wondering what the heck is going on.

You'll see us nodding vigorously to The Globe or The Metro, soaking up the latest twists and turns of this dramatic political season, completely uninterested in conversation, and for that I apologize for in advance.,Over the next few months, local political

junkies will be on cloud nine, and most Boston students will scratch their heads, wondering what the heck is going on.

You'll see us nodding vigorously to The Globe or The Metro, soaking up the latest twists and turns of this dramatic political season, completely uninterested in conversation, and for that I apologize for in advance.

I do not apologize for being engaged. We all should be informed as locals head to the polls. And as locals, we should vote.

A year ago, we were glued to TVs watching

debates and mailing in votes for Barack Obama, who rode to the White House on a sea of youthful support.

Fast forward to today, and many of us have lost the fire in our bellies. Only a few of us know about Attorney General Martha Coakley, a Democrat running for the late Senator Ted Kennedy's seat.

Coakley would be the first female senator in Massachusetts history. In July, she sued the federal government over the Defense of Marriage Act, and has been endorsed by the abortion-rights group EMILY's List. Her candidacy is an exciting prospect for students who care about women's or gay rights.

The late Senator Kennedy was a fierce advocate on issues students care about, and we the students should elect someone who will carry on his work. The special election primary will be held on Dec. 8.

These battles are just as important as national ones, and, in many ways, affect us more.

We ought to vote in every election, local, state and national, either at home or here in the Hub. Young people need to coalesce around the ballot more than once every four years, or our generation's concerns will be forgotten and ignored.

It's understandable that local college students know little about local and state politics. For the 82 percent of Emerson students not from Massachusetts, there was no reason to care until you arrived.

Also, local politics can be boring and petty. The ins and outs of union squabbling and axle-crushing potholes hardly goad us to study up. But underneath the municipal minutiae are issues crucial to students and young adults.

Though Washington has the final say on some matters, local government dramatically impacts our personal sphere.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino has encouraged

the expansion of college campuses and dormitories, including Emerson's expansion

in the Theater District, and Harvard's in North Allston.

The mayor has also worked against students,

in 2007 banning under-21 events in Boston clubs. Last year, for no coherent reason, the mayor blocked quick-care medical

clinics from city limits, forcing college students to choose between college medical facilities (if they're open) and the emergency room. Earlier this year, the city council tried to prevent five or more students from living in the same apartment (crowd in there; the ordinance is not enforced).

Tuesday's preliminary municipal elections narrowed the Boston mayoral field to City Councilor Michael Flaherty and Menino, the taffy-tongued, four-term incumbent. Voters also narrowed the city councilor at-large field to eight, two of whom will be elected on Nov. 3-the same day Cambridge holds city elections. The issues above and myriad others are at stake.

Next year, we'll do it again at the state level: Democratic Governor Deval Patrick is up for re-election next November, and he faces three tough opponents. For all we hear about shrinking state power, Massachusetts still greatly shapes our lives, running the MBTA and setting tax rates (income, alcohol, tobacco and sales). Last year, Massachusetts decriminalized

marijuana (the Feds can still nab you).

You should also consider your career. Local and state government can provide young graduates-with interests from filmmaking to writing to politics-with jobs. Ana Gabbidon, who graduated from Emerson in May, is the finance director for Ayanna Pressley, who is running for city councilor at-large.

It's unlikely you would get such a great gig in Washington right off the bat.

So go to it. Visit cityofboston.gov/elections

and register before Oct. 14 to vote in November's municipal elections. If you're preregistered in another town or state, don't worry: This will override it. The only thing you need to worry about is casting your ballot.

We live in the "cradle of liberty," and the ghosts of the Revolution are still among us. Exercise your right to vote.