Boosting Turnout in Municipal Elections

While national elections draw larger numbers, local elections impact our lives far more directly.

by Brad McMillan, Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service at Bradley University
Brad McMillan

A historic number of registered voters in the United States (66.3%) participated in the November general election. Four years ago, however, only 18 percent of registered voters cast ballots for the mayoral and City Council positions in the Peoria municipal election. Clearly, whoever occupies the White House and serves in Congress are vitally important to our democracy. And yet, I would contend that those who serve us in municipal government have a far more direct impact on our daily lives. 

Community-wide public safety, filling potholes in our streets, the amounts we pay in property and sales taxes, economic development, and the quality of life in Peoria are all local issues. The same is true for all communities in the Tri-County area and the 19,000 cities, towns and villages that make up our nation. We need to maintain the significant momentum of greater civic participation in our last general election to engage many more citizens to cast ballots in upcoming municipal elections. 

After serving four terms, Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis is not running for re-election. Thus, we have an open mayoral race with five candidates on the ballot and one person running as a write-in candidate. In addition, all five of the council district races are contested, with some having three candidates vying for the same spot. This increase in the number of candidates deciding to throw their hat in the ring is a healthy sign for our community, and all candidates deserve credit for their willingness to take the significant time and energy required to run for public office.

To find the names of all candidates running in the Peoria municipal election, please go to peoriaelections.org, where you can also find all the information needed to request a mail-in ballot, early voting sites, and voter registration information. The primary election will take place on February 23, and the final municipal election will be held on April 6, 2021.

I urge everyone to do their homework on all of the candidates running for these important positions and to exercise their right to vote in our upcoming local elections. The future leadership of our communities is at stake.  PM

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