While this year may not feature a presidential election – despite all the hype and coverage of candidates from both side of the aisle on the national news outlets – every election is an important opportunity to let your voice be heard when it comes to the politicians who have the most meaningful impact on your life – local, county and state elections. Let’s take a look at how these elections – scheduled this year for Nov. 3 – are important and how they can affect you.
Since last year was the biannual election for Assembly and Senate members, as well as the gubernatorial election, there are no races being decided for state offices in 2015. Five vacant seats currently exist outside of Western New York, with special elections planned in those areas to fill the vacancies. However, it’s worth noting that these elections are incredibly important for each of us. Our representatives in Albany decide measures like property tax breaks (or tax caps, as have been in effect for the past few years), rebates and other measures that can mean money in your pocket. These politicians have sway on a state level, so supporting your candidate helps influence decisions that affect not only you and your neighbors, but the overall climate of taxation across New York.
While there are few state elections this year, there are several elections of importance on the county level. In Erie County, there are races for voters to decide on for the county executive and all county legislators, as well as the county judges and family court judge. Niagara County also will vote for their legislators, as well as the county district attorney and county clerk. These elections, too, are important on the broader county level as the decisions made in each county’s legislature can impact property taxes, sales tax and other expenditures. Counties are subject to the state tax cap legislation the same as cities and towns, and electing representatives who will work on your behalf to keep spending and taxes in line will help to keep your expenses down, too.
Local elections have the most direct control on you. Town, village and city representatives control the municipality’s purse strings, and as a result make the decisions about spending and tax levies that affect your property most directly. In many cities and towns in both Erie and Niagara counties, councilor and aldermanic elections are being held to determine who will be voting on budgets, spending proposals and tax increases that can impact your property taxes. Residents in Amherst, North Tonawanda, Lockport, Wheatfield, Pendleton, Tonawanda and many other areas will be electing their representatives this year, and turning out at the polls to weigh in on Nov. 3 is the best way that you can have a say in how your municipality levies funds or spends tax revenues.
As the saying goes, if you don’t vote, you can’t complain. Be proactive this year, and get out and vote for the candidates who you feel will best represent you in these governing bodies. For more information, polling location details and sample ballots, visit the Erie County Board of Elections or Niagara County Board of Elections websites.