Pencil it into your planner, mark it on your wall calendar, set a reminder on your phone—whatever you do, don’t forget May 19. No, it’s not the last day of finals or the start of your summer vacation trip. Election Day is rolling into Philly, and that means that it’s time for your civic voice to be heard. Philadelphia’s primary elections are scheduled for May 19th, and will decide the city’s mayor, city council, and other positions.
Whether you’re currently politically engaged or not, you should care — care about this date, this duty, and its implications for the city and its inhabitants. Young people are the largest population in the city, which means that you decide who is elected and how the city’s future is shaped.
So how should you navigate this election season? Most importantly, you should strive to become an informed voter. From gathering information to interacting with the candidates themselves, here are a few ways that you can grow politically aware and cultivate your own decisions about the election and its participants.
Temple Has the Story
Temple University’s Center for Public Interest Journalism has joined Philadelphia Media Network and others to provide high-quality reporting on the mayoral campaign. The project, known as “The Next Mayor” project, focuses on the major issues facing the city and reports on more than just the typical political rhetoric and campaign commercials. The coverage is not only provided by various columnists and contributors such as reporters from The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News — original multimedia content is produced by Temple undergraduate and graduate students from the School of Media and Communication. The collaboration, funded by the Wyncote Foundation, offers accurate and in-depth election coverage and also features helpful data graphics and candidate information.
This is a great information hub for students, (in part) by students. It is a centralized space for updates on candidate positions and news regarding the campaign that you should check up on.
Know the Candidates
Sometimes we need to do more than click through articles to be informed. In order to decide who deserves our vote, sometime we need to see for ourselves exactly what people are saying and how they respond to questions on the spot. Luckily there are many upcoming opportunities for you to witness the candidates and even meet them.
The first of these events is Next Great City Coalition’s Philadelphia Mayoral Candidates’ Forum on March 3 from 6 – 8 p.m. The discussion will focus on the Next Great City Coalition’s 2015 policy agenda, a plan that envisions every Philly neighborhood as clean, safe, and efficient. This discussion is a great chance to hear the candidates’ stances on the initiative and other issues. The forum is free and open to the public, but you can email firstname.lastname@example.org at Campus Philly to be included in our student group for the event.
On March 30, you can get even closer to the issues at “In conversation with Philadelphia: A discussion between the mayoral candidates, the media and the city.” While the candidates will field questions from the journalists selected for the event, they’ll also be taking questions from you via Twitter. This interactive conversation will allow you to ask the candidates questions that interest you — how are you going to continue to retain the surging millennial population? How will you empower minority groups across the city? Come up with some questions and head over to this free event where you can have an active part (space is limited, so be sure to register).
Lastly, Young Involved Philadelphia, WHYY, and the Committee of Seventy will hold a City Council candidate meet and greet. All of the city council candidates will be present to meet with young voters. You’ll have the unique opportunity to talk with the candidates in person and ask them the specific questions that an article online might not cover.
Learn the Process
Being informed about candidate stances and their plans is imperative to voting smartly. But you also have to be knowledgeable about how to vote, too. First of all, you’ll need to register to vote. Young Involved Philadelphia’s Millennial Citizen’s Guide is an excellent resource for understanding the city’s political structure and voting process. Beyond your vote, you can become involved in the electoral process as a volunteer or committeeperson.
So get ready to get informed, learn about the candidates, and have your voice heard this primary season!