Local elections: Know who’s on the ballot and what they stand for

Amidst the presidential election, it’s also important to know who’s on the ballot in your local area and what they stand for. (Unsplash)

By Natalie Faas

While the flurry of election season is in full swing, this election has proven to pose some serious challenges in terms of informing voters. With all the media surrounding the presidential election, many voters have only focused their energy on the presidential campaigns, but there are other elections happening locally as well. 

Canisius College and its surrounding neighborhoods are in the U.S. House New York District 26, New York State Senate District 63, and the New York State Assembly District 141.

In terms of the presidential election, it is clear that this may be one of the most publicized elections in our nation’s history, and because of this, a lot of confusion whether it be facts or fiction have been swarming.

Current president Donald J. Trump is the Republican incumbent, Joseph R. Biden is the Democratic candidate, Howie Hawkins is the candidate for the Green Party, Brock Pierce is the Independent Party candidate and Jo Jorgensen is the candidate for the Libertarian Party. 

Who’s running locally?

On the ticket for the United States House of Representatives are Democrat incumbent Brian Higgins, Republican Ricky Donovan Sr., and Green Party member Mike Raleigh. 

Incumbent Brian Higgins has served as the congressman for the House Representative for New York’s 26th district for the past seven years as a member of the Democratic party.

Incumbent Timothy M. Kennedy is a Democrat running for re-election in District 63 of the New York State Senate. Kennedy is running for this position unopposed. Kennedy has served on the New York State Senate since 2011 and has represented District 63 since 2013. 

For New York State Assembly, District 141, incumbent Democrat Crystal Peoples-Stokes is running against Republican Sean Miles. Peoples-Stokes has served in her position for 17 years and from 2013 to 2015 she served as a majority conference chair.

What do their ideals look like?

Key issues such as health care and the environment are very important to Higgins. According to his official campaign website: “Brian is a supporter of the Affordable Care Act recognizing the law was a beginning, not an end to expanding, improving, and providing more affordable healthcare options for Americans.”

Donovan Sr., a “conservative veteran” has chosen to take on other key issues concerning gun control and Second Amendment rights. His official campaign Facebook page said, “If elected your Representative in Congress this Nov. 3, I will always stand up for your Second Amendment rights and your constitutional freedoms.

Peoples-Stokes is an active member of the community and according to her official campaign Facebook page, is very supportive of other Democrats in the state of New York. She is an active voice in many popular movements such as the Black Lives Matter movement and is passionate about education. 

What do the experts have to say?

Dr. Kevin Hardwick, an Erie County legislator serving the 4th district, is an associate professor of political science at Canisius.

The presidential debates are traditionally a large portion of each presidential race and are key to informing voters of their own ideas and leadership qualities. With the lack of debates due to the pandemic and other conflicts, the first presidential debate and the vice-presidential debate is all voters have to go by. “Trump was out of control in the presidential debate and Biden gained support as a result,” Hardwick said. “The vice-presidential candidates each did what they set out to do”

“Trump can still pull it out. But a Biden landslide appears to be a distinct possibility,” Dr. Hardwick said on the current track of the election.

Voter turnout caused a large impact on the last election in very key states. Large social media campaigns as well as endorsements from many different celebrities were run in order to make sure that as many people who are eligible, can and will vote. Voter registration events happened at colleges all over the country, including Canisius. 

“The election is Biden’s to lose. It will come down to turnout. The Democrats were caught napping four years ago. They cannot let this happen again,” Hardwick said.

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