Local elections rarely pop up in our newsfeeds, and sometimes they come and go without us even knowing they happened. However, even though they may not be highly publicized, local elections can have huge impacts on community & technical college students. This fall, Minneapolis and St. Paul will be electing new mayors and in the case of Minneapolis they will also elect their city council and park board members*.  As the final candidate filing date approaches on Aug. 15, 2017, and we learn who will be running for these critical offices, it is important to understand the power students' hold to shape these elections.

Right now, students are not well represented in municipal (city) government because historically they don’t vote in municipal elections. With approximately 5,000 students living in Minneapolis and attend Minneapolis Community & Technical College and 4,000 students living in St. Paul and attend Saint Paul College, students can make a huge impact on this election. You have the power to shape the conversation in this local election and tell your city officials that it is time to do something about the cost of tuition and the number of students struggling with hunger and homelessness.

You can have a say by voting and pledging your fellow students to vote in the municipal election on Nov. 7. Many students don’t know that these elections are happening and that they have the power to make change happen on the issues that affect them. When students fail to vote, we do not utilize our power to make change, and the power of people that do vote is magnified. By pledging your peers to vote and reminding them about the election, you give this power back to them.

Before we know it, the candidate filing date will pass, and we will be in the heart of the municipal elections in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Do not let this municipal election pass you by. Students have the power to shape this election and make sure that the challenges of student hunger, homelessness, and rising tuition costs are addressed, but you have to show up. When college students connect for change on their campuses, real change happens. Let’s make this the year for change.

*Many school districts will also elect their board members, so be sure to check if your district is holding an election.