Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Will candidates get students votes?

Flyers. Speeches. Door-to-door campaigning. Signs in yards across the city. These strategies are meant to catch the eye of the voter, but it may not be enough to win the hearts of the students at UMD. However, Don Ness seemed pretty confident in his campaigning efforts.

"We anticipate over 30 thousand votes being cast in the general election. Students could be a significant voice in November's election, if they choose to vote. I have always given more time and energy to getting students out to vote than any other city candidate - that will be true this year as well," he said.

I went out to investigate whether or not candidates Charlie Bell and Don Ness were actually reaching out to students like they say they are, and to find out what students think about their campaigns. What I found was a little surprising.

Over half the students enrolled here at UMD are from out of town, which is why they have some negative feelings about these elections. The candidates are trying to get the students to see that their votes do affect the lives of UMD's students.

"If they're not going to be living here, students should at least be informed if they're going to vote," said Bell. "If they aren't informed, then I understand why they wouldn't."

I talked to a couple students to see whether or not they thought their effort to vote would be worth it.

Sam Gransee, a freshman at UMD, is a native of Wisconsin who feels that these elections won't affect him which is why he's not going to vote.

"I saw Ness's brother out campaigning across from the bookstore," he said. "I was at my own table out in Kirby, and I saw a few people stop by their table, but not that many. I know who Ness is, but I'm not real up on politics in Duluth."

I think that although Bell and Ness are putting forth an effort to reach out to students, most are too busy or uninterested to care about the issues enough to vote. Or, they aren't going to be in Duluth much longer, so students like Sophomore Jenny Lokhorst, aren't going to vote for mayor here.

"I feel disconnected from the city, my feet just aren't planted in Duluth," she said.

The candidates have told me that they're doing everything they can to talk to students. Whether it's going door-to-door, handing out fliers in on-campus housing, or setting up tables in Kirby, I think they've got their bases covered. It's just up to us now, to get out there and have an opinion on Election Day.

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