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Young voters excited to vote, select new Carmel mayor

Megan Xia

The Carmel mayoral election will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 7. Polls have been open as early as Oct. 25, but the general election will start at 6 a.m. on Nov. 7. Mayor James Brainard will not be up for reelection. Brainard has held the position since 1996, for a total of seven consecutive terms. 

Senior Melinda Yong said she plans to vote in the mayoral election. She said her teachers encouraged her to vote. 

“(I registered to vote) online through the link that my U.S. government teacher provided,” Yong said. “She just said register to vote, so I did. I just put in my driver’s license information and then it asked me if I had any felonies, and that (was) it.”

Additionally, Yong said it is important for young people and other students to vote. 

“There are a lot of young people living here and staying here (in Carmel), but the majority of voters are (older) people and so our voices are not heard as much, so young people should register to vote because our opinions may differ from the older people,” Yong said. “If you start voting young, then you’re probably more likely to keep voting even into your 20s and 30s. Voting is a civic duty and your contribution to democracy, and it’s really one way you can be a good civil participant.” 

Campaign assistants advocating for Miles Nelson gather outside of the Palladium holding signs for their candidates on Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. The mayoral debate was intended to give residents insight on the candidates’ platforms and overall character. (Nora Mariano)

U.S. History teacher Page Deddens said she agreed with Yong on the importance of youth voters and fulfilling a responsibility to vote.

“Youth voters are essential to the community. Without young people voting and running for election, our community can never really grow and evolve with the times,” Deddens said. “Smaller elections, like local and state elections, are very important as they often impact the people living in that community in a more direct way than larger elections will.”

Deddens will not be voting in the Carmel mayoral election as she doesn’t live in Carmel, but she said she will be voting in the mayoral election for her own community. Deddens said the idea of voting being a civic duty is a major component for why she is voting. 

“I personally think that everyone who is eligible to vote has the duty to do so,” Deddens said. “So many people inside and outside the United States would love to have the opportunity to participate in the democratic process, so to neglect my duty to vote seems like a disservice.”

Melaina Munson, CMYC executive and senior, said she agreed with Deddens and Yong about the importance of civic duties. According to Munson, the 2023 Carmel mayoral election is a historical event. 

“I think the biggest reason (for why I’m voting) is that I feel like it is a civic duty to vote and participate in the politics around me,” Munson said. “I’m also invested because it’s a very historic event so it’s a lot more exciting; it’s the first election in 30-something years where we don’t have the incumbent running.”

Munson said the mayoral election this year is special due to the change in political figures present. 

“It’s the first (election) where Jim Brainard isn’t running anymore, so that is really special because he’s been mayor and leadership for our community for a really long time and he hasn’t really faced any serious opposition lately,” Munson said. “(Having a) democratic candidate is also very new for the city of Carmel and I also think that it’s just an exciting time in Carmel to run for mayor as it’s a very fast-growing community and the mayor election is very important.”

Yong said she thinks the new mayor’s policies will affect the lives of Carmel’s younger population. 

Campaign assistants advocating for Sue Finkam gather outside of the Palladium for their candidate on Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. U.S. History teacher Page Deddens said, “A mayor can really set the tone for what a city stands for, and what direction they want to move the community.” (Nora Mariano)

“(I’m voting) because the mayor is an important part of our local government,” Yong said. “Policies by the mayor will affect spending in the city which can create new programs and services for young people to enjoy or services that we currently enjoy will be cut.” 

Deddens said she agreed with Yong, emphasizing the importance of the mayoral leadership on the future of the community. 

“As I don’t live in Carmel, I haven’t followed the candidates as closely as other elections, but a mayor can really set the tone for what a city stands for, and what direction they want to move the community.” Deddens said. “So, a mayor election is very important in determining what Carmel will look like in the next couple of years.”

Munson said the change in political parties present in the 2023 mayoral election will change Carmel significantly. 

She said, “The mayoral election will change the leadership in Carmel and I’m really excited, because this is the first election where there is a democratic mayoral candidate that has a possibility of winning, and so I think representing these diverse ideas within Carmel is very valuable.”

Munson said she encouraged students who are eligible to vote to participate in the election. She said the process was fairly simple. 

“The voting process for students is the same as adults,” she said. “The way I did it was I went to register online and they sent me my voter registration information card and all of that information. It was really easy, and you just have to be 18 to do it.”

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