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State offices are up for election this November

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This November, many students at the school will have their first chance to influence the United States government and politics by voting nominees into elected office. There is not anything as mainstream as a presidential election happening this year, but the state of both national and local governments are uncertain due to the pivotal midterm elections.

All 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are available, and numerous U.S. senators are reaching the ends of their six-year terms, so elections will be held to fill those seats as well. The candidacies of midterm elections go beyond open seats in Congress, however. Several local government positions are also up for election.

Seniors at the school who are 18 years old by election day on November 6 will have a say in  the men and women holding office at all levels of government. There are four elections that the school’s eligible seniors, as well as the rest of Arlington County, will be voting in this November.“I feel that [voting] is a big step in growing up and phasing out of high school and into college,” senior Jack Winslow said. “This is the first action that I will be taking as an adult, which is significant.”

Senate

The most nationally-recognized Virginia election is that of the U.S. Senate, where Senator Tim Kaine (D – Va.) is looking to be re-elected to his second term as Virginia’s junior senator.

The former Virginia governor and vice-presidential nominee is being challenged by Corey Stewart (R), who was the head of President Donald Trump’s campaign in Virginia in 2016, and a Virginia gubernatorial candidate in 2017. Stewart still stands with President Trump on all political issues, and is using his support of Trump to bolster his campaign and appeal to Virginia Republicans. Senator Kaine is attempting to do the exact opposite, publicly opposing President Trump’s stance on almost every single issue.

“I think that since the VA popular vote went to Clinton/Kaine in 2016, then Stewart will have a tougher time achieving a win than Kaine in this state,” AP Government teacher Dr. Margaret East said. “I also think there are a ton of independents, and Stewart is not just pro-Trump, but potentially more conservative than Trump (the website Vox called him a neo-Confederate). I think it will be hard for him to do well here in the general election.”

House of Representatives

    The other federal government election on the ballot is the District 8 Congressional election. Rep. Don Beyer (D – Va.) is seeking re-election to a third term in the U.S. House of Representatives, and will be running against Republican and former Army officer Thomas Oh. Beyer won both the 2014 and 2016 congressional elections by overwhelming majorities, securing over 65 percent of the popular vote both times. Due to these statistics, it has been predicted by many that Beyer will once again win in a landslide.

“Voting in Arlington, my vote probably won’t have any super significant meaning because Don Beyer will definitely win the seat,” senior Kelton Williams said. “But it’s still important to be a part of the voting process in the U.S. because lack of participation is one of the major reasons [why] the Republicans got a supermajority in the last election cycle.”

    County Board

    While these congressional elections will affect the state of the country as a whole, elections to local government are also important because the policies of  local government has immediate effects on the lives of the people it serves.

Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt (I) is up for reelection, looking to secure his second four-year term. Vihstadt’s lack of allegiance to a political party has been appealing to those who have grown tired of increased partisanship in government.  He is continuing to use that appeal now, hoping that it will get him re-elected. Vihstadt is dedicated to transparency in government through community engagement, as well as creating stronger fiscal discipline, making the county more aware of cost and value in every decision.   

His opponent is Matt de Ferranti (D), who serves on numerous Arlington County commissions. de Ferranti is attempting to use his progressive party platform to sway liberal voters toward his campaign. “I think we need new vision for the future,” de Ferranti said. “When it comes to the economy, we need smart ideas to help grow business, and so we can afford to build schools.We need to have an Arlington that thrives.”

The policy point that has been headlining de Ferranti’s campaign is his commitment to Arlington’s transition to renewable energy use. “My goal is for Arlington to have 100 percent renewable energy use by 2035,” de Ferranti said. “Energy plans should be infused into all departments, we need solar panels on top of schools, and we need to invest in energy providers.”

School Board

While all these elections have merit, the one that most directly impacts students is the election to fill an open seat in the Arlington County School Board. In this election, Barbara Kanninen, the Chair of the School Board, is running for re-election against Audrey Clement. Kanninen was endorsed by the Democratic Party, and is looking to use her ties to the Democratic Committee and her record of improving the school system, to secure her re-election this November.

“I am advocating for the whole child,” Kanninen said. “Child welfare is about more than test scores, it’s about mental health and preparing students for the world. I am also advocating for teachers, making sure they have what they need, and get they pay increases they deserve.”

Clement is looking to appeal to those who are dissatisfied with some of the issues with Arlington Public Schools (APS), such as overcrowding and alleged declining high school test scores.

“I’ve been on the board for four years and we’ve been working on the same issues.” Kanninen said when asked about the problems in APS . “We have plans to address the overcrowding; we’re opening a new elementary school and a new middle school next year. With regards to test scores, we are constantly looking at the data to see what we can improve.”

 

 

 

The fates of several levels of government will be decided on November 6, and some of the school’s seniors will have the constitutional right to take part in this democratic process. So for the seniors who will vote for the first time in November, the decisions they make on election day may be the first significant decisions they make in their adult lives.

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