Take time to get in­formed this elec­tion sea­son

Newark Post - - LOCAL NEWS - Mayor’s Cor­ner

One of the great­est op­por­tu­ni­ties we have in this coun­try is also one of the great­est re­spon­si­bil­i­ties: ex­er­cis­ing our civic duty on elec­tion day.

With the lat­est city elec­tion less than two weeks away, and Ne­wark’s first ref­er­en­dum in nearly two decades sched­uled for June 19, there are op­por­tu­ni­ties for ev­ery­one to have their voice be heard in the com­ing months.

But with voter turnout be­ing his­tor­i­cally low in Ne­wark elec­tions (the av­er­age per­cent­age of voter turnout over the past five years is just 18 per­cent), it’s clear the re­spon­si­bil­ity has only been as­sumed by a small mi­nor­ity of our com­mu­nity. Let’s change that.

On Tues­day, April 10, res­i­dents in District 3 and District 5 will have an op­por­tu­nity to cast their vote for who they be­lieve will be a cham­pion for their con­cerns and best rep­re­sents their views for strength­en­ing Ne­wark.

I en­cour­age our neigh­bors in those dis­tricts to do their re­search. Meet the can­di­dates, hear their po­si­tion on the is­sues we are fac­ing and share your thoughts and ideas with them. Ask ques­tions: what chal­lenges do they hope to ad­dress? How will they com­mu­ni­cate with their con­stituents? What strengths will they bring to coun­cil? Talk to your neigh­bors and en­cour­age them to be en­gaged and in­formed as well. Most im­por­tantly – show up on elec­tion day. Ev­ery vote counts and your voice mat­ters.

Ten weeks later, on Tues­day, June 19, Ne­wark will hold a ref­er­en­dum to ad­dress the abil­ity for the city to seek ap­proval to bor­row money for sev­eral cap­i­tal projects, in­clud­ing the pro­posed stormwa­ter pond pro­ject at the for­mer Rod­ney dorm site. This is the first ref­er­en­dum since 2001, when the city sought bor­row­ing au­tho­riza­tion to fund con­struc­tion of the Ne­wark reser­voir and up­grades to the South Well Field Wa­ter Treat­ment Plant utiliz­ing debt.

The city is de­vel­op­ing a com­pre­hen­sive ed­u­ca­tion and outreach plan to in­form vot­ers of the dif­fer­ent projects, why the city hopes to use debt fi­nanc­ing to pay for the projects, and how the projects will have a pos­i­tive im­pact in our com­mu­nity. As that plan rolls out, I hope res­i­dents will seek in­for­ma­tion, ask ques­tions and weigh the op­tions they’re be­ing asked to vote on. Most im­por­tantly, once again – show up to the polls and vote.

With a vast amount of in­for­ma­tion avail­able at our fin­ger­tips – whether that means go­ing on­line, turn­ing on your TV or di­al­ing the phone – there is lit­tle to no rea­son to not be en­gaged and ed­u­cated on is­sues im­pact­ing your com­mu­nity. But ac­cess­ing the in­for­ma­tion and act­ing upon it are two dif­fer­ent things.

I hope you’ll take ad­van­tage of both the op­por­tu­nity and the re­spon­si­bil­ity to have a say in lo­cal mat­ters and come out to the polls this year. The fu­ture of Ne­wark de­pends on those who let their voices be heard.

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