Upcoming County, State Elections

Offices other than national level to be determined this fall

by Keara Barron, Staff Writer

Along with the midterm elections for the United States Senate and House of Representatives, eight Collin County and two state legislative elections will take place on Nov. 6, 2018.

“I think everybody overlooks local politics and it’s unfortunate because local politics are realistically what affect us more on a day-to-day basis,” American studies teacher Dr. Joe Russell said. “It’s the decisions of your local city council or even your local school board that have a lot more impact on how we live our lives and, frankly, how our money gets spent.”

Some of the local Collin County positions that are up for election include county judge and county commissioners. The county judge is the presiding officer of the Commissioners Court and handles some criminal and civil cases. A few other responsibilities relate to finance, conducting elections and even promoting mental health. Along with the county judge, the Commissioners Court is made up of four commissioners. Each commissioner represents one of the four precincts that the county is divided into, with Precinct Two covering East Plano and Murphy. As the governing body of the county, the court oversees many county affairs, such as the construction and maintenance of roads. Along with these county positions, elections in the state legislature are taking place this year.

“We pay attention to national politics, but Austin is a little closer,” Russell said. “I don’t know that a lot of people know who their state reps are or who their state senators are and the influence that they have on laws. Especially in issues like education, the local and state governments have way more influence on those things than the national government does.”

Similar to Congress, the Texas Legislature is divided into two bodies, the Senate and the House of Representatives, and is involved in creating state laws. The Senate is comprised of 31 members with four-year terms, while 150 members with two-year terms make up the House. Fifteen seats in the state Senate are up for election, including the seat for District Eight, which represents most of Collin County. Meanwhile, all 150 positions of the House are up for grabs.

“Generally, our state government and also local government aren’t really expressed,” senior Leonard LeGrand said. “It’s mainly the presidential election that everyone knows of. No one knows about the Houses or anything.”

According to state records, in 2014, the last election for Senate District Eight, 144,810 votes were cast and around 572,328 people were eligible to vote. Some people believe that more citizens should participate in elections, whether the elections are local or national.

“There’s an election somewhere for something every single year,” Russell said. “Democracy is not a one-stop shop, a thing that you do once every four years. It takes constant, active involvement to be an educated citizen.”

Statistically, the lowest voter turnout group includes 18-year-olds. This leads some to believe that not many students participate in local and state elections.

“When you’re young, it feels far away from you,” LeGrand said. “The idea of you having an impact is distant and you’re more focused on other things and less on politics.”

Even though people may be more invested in their own life and day-to-day activities, Russell stresses the importance of voting in order to uphold democracy.

“The only weakness of democracy is ignorance and indifference,” Russell said. “If people don’t take the time to educate themselves and participate, [democracy] will fall apart and you will end up with some kind of tyranny.”