Make your voice heard on Nov. 7

The display of a voting machine at the Linn County Elections Depot in southwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Friday, Jan. 6, 2017. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
The display of a voting machine at the Linn County Elections Depot in southwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Friday, Jan. 6, 2017. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

An election that could have a major impact on your daily life is rapidly approaching. City elections take place throughout Iowa on Tuesday, Nov. 7. Although these elections do not receive very much attention, they are every bit as important as the general elections held in Iowa every two years.

As a former mayor of the state’s second largest city and former president of the Iowa League of Cities, I can assure you that city government plays an important role in the lives of Iowans. That is why all eligible Iowans should make their voices heard and vote on Nov. 7.

Unfortunately, city elections usually have drastically lower turnout than general elections. Iowa is one of the best states in the nation for voter registration and participation, but those numbers do not hold up well for school and city elections. We can and should do better.

When you stop and think about all the things city government oversees that affect you each day, you will realize the importance of city elections. Around 30 percent of your property tax bill goes to city government. Decisions regarding streets, utilities, stoplights, law enforcement, fire departments, garbage collection, and snow removal are all made on the city level. City governments can dictate local ordinances, set curfew hours, decide whether you can use and sell fireworks, and decree what type of pets you can keep. They can dictate whether or not you can build a fence on your property.

Don’t you want a say in how all those things are determined? If the answer is “yes”, then the next steps are simple: Register to vote if you haven’t already. If you are registered, make sure your information is up-to-date. Visit sos.iowa.gov/registertovote and do it instantly, online. Then, research the candidates for mayor and city council and pick the ones that best represent you and your values. The final step is to be a voter on Nov. 7.

I want all eligible Iowans to make their voices heard in our elections. The way to do that is by being a voter. City elections are about you, your family, and your community. You have a say in how you want your tax dollars spent and your city to operate. On Nov. 7, step up. Be a voter.

• Paul Pate is Iowa’s secretary of state

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