Local government matters on Election Day, too

By Duke Staff 

Trump and Clinton, Clinton and Trump. Those names seem to have taken over our country’s consciousness. They follow us everywhere — on TV, in the newspapers, on the lips of everyone to whom we speak. But what if we told you that their names are the least important ones you’ll be seeing on the ballot on Nov. 8?

OK, maybe “least important” is an exaggeration. Obviously, choosing who you would like to be the leader of the free world is a huge decision. However, the President of the United States doesn’t actually have that large of an impact on your everyday life.

Think about the things that are most important to you. How bad are the roads that you drive on? How much do you pay in state and local taxes? If you have an accident, how quickly will the police arrive? How efficient is public transportation for you? These issues are all under the authority of your state and local government.

If you’re from Pittsburgh, here is a sampling of the other decisions you will be faced with when you go to vote on Nov. 8, besides the Trump vs. Clinton dichotomy.

Like all states, Pennsylvania sends two senators to the United States Senate. This year, Pat Toomey, a Republican, is up for re-election. He’s running against Katie McGinty, a Democrat, who has an actual chance of upsetting the incumbent Toomey. She’s polling at 43 percent, while Toomey has a slight lead at 44.8 percent.

With the way the U.S. federal government is structured, the Senate can have more power over domestic policy than the President. Senators can draft new laws and, with the support of the House, can override presidential vetoes, which happened recently regarding a bill allowing the relatives of Sept. 11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia. The Senate overrode President Obama’s veto, demonstrating just how much authority the Senate has.

Pennsylvania also sends 18 congresspersons to the House of Representatives. As members of Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, Pittsburgh residents can either re-elect the incumbent Mike Doyle, a Democrat, or vote for the Republican Lenny McAllister.

There’s so much more to voting than choosing the president. The Pennsylvania ballot will have choices for PA Attorney General, PA Treasurer, PA Auditor General… get the picture?

There will even be an opportunity to vote on a referendum to raise the mandatory retirement age for Pennsylvania judges from 70 to 75. It’s a good idea to look it up on Ballotpedia before you end up in a voting booth, scratching your head and trying to make an impulsive decision.

Trump and Clinton might be getting all the attention, but don’t forget: They won’t be making the laws and decisions that affect you the most.

What do you think? Leave us a comment!