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ASU students begin canvassing for local elections ahead of 2022 midterms

As Arizona prepares for a busy midterm election season, ASU students are canvassing for local campaigns for Tempe City Council

Casey Clowes.jpg
Casey Clowes pictured in Kwanis Park in Tempe in October of 2019.

Ahead of the 2022 midterms, ASU students and student groups are getting involved in local government after more than a year of social justice advocacy and the previous election cycle through campaign events.

Local elections, which begin next March, are receiving attention from students looking to get involved, including in the Tempe City Council race, in which three seats are to be vacated and filled by summer 2022 with candidates serving four-year terms.

Cameron Adams, the president of ASU Young Democrats and a senior studying global studies, said the aftermath of the 2020 elections has motivated people, especially students, to get involved in local government.

“I think a lot of people realized in the last year or so how much the city controls the police budget, resources that we have in the city, making sure it's clean – everything,” Adams said.

According to Tufts University’s Institute for Democracy and Higher Education, the student voting rate in the 2018 midterms was at 40.3%, up from 19.3% in the 2014 midterms. The increase signals a potential rise in the student voting rate in the 2022 midterms – an election season that will have all statewide executive offices on the ballot.

These local seats, especially those in Tempe, have a greater impact on students than any national seat, Adams said, which is why she chose to get involved in canvassing for Casey Clowes’ second campaign for Tempe City Council.

The Clowes campaign is focused on sustainability, reducing traffic by improving public transit and expanding affordable housing. 

“We have a lot of the same ideas for Tempe, so I’m continuing to support her and help her now that she's running another time,” Adams said.

Canvassing involves candidates going door-to-door to connect with voters in person rather than through TV ads or social media. Tempe City Council candidates are currently canvassing to collect signatures to place their names on the ballot. 

Nicole Maestas, a junior studying political science, and John Adamson, a senior studying political science, have been canvassing for Berdetta Hodge’s Tempe City Council campaign because they believe in the importance of getting involved in the community they go to school in.

According to Hodge's campaign website, she hopes to modernize the city's infrastructure, provide more affordable housing options and attract business to the downtown area. 

For Maestas, it’s about contributing to the community that she’s benefiting from, especially because Tempe isn’t her hometown.

“I think if you move here to go to school, you do have a duty to the space around you, the people around you and the community around you that's welcoming you in,” Maestas said. 

She also emphasized the ease of canvassing as a method of support for students who can’t afford to donate to a campaign or who aren’t registered to vote in Maricopa County.

“It's just super easy, you can just kind of show up when you have free time, and then if you can't, not a big deal,” Maestas said. “It's one of the lower commitment ways to get involved, especially for people who don't really have a lot of cash. I can’t donate to a campaign, but I can donate a few hours of time.”

Adamson, who is the political director for Young Democrats of Arizona and Hodge's campaign manager, said it’s important to be aware of the decisions being made in the community that will affect the University. He cited the case of the Mirabella apartment complex conflict with Shady Park as a prime example of why students should be paying attention to local government.

After ASU built a senior-living community just steps away from Mill Avenue, the residents began complaining about the noise from Shady Park, a popular concert venue, encouraging students and other community members to show their support via petition for the business.

“You belong to ASU, you interact with ASU all the time, but you're part of this greater community,” Adamson said. “And believe it or not, even if you're not involved, there are going to be decisions made regarding you and your life around campus by the local government.”

Adams, Maestas and Adamson said they hope ASU students will search for ways to get involved in their local government and offered advice for students who don’t know where to start.

Maestas suggested reaching out to peers who are politically involved, while Adams and Adamson emphasized the importance of showing up to events hosted by clubs like ASU Young Democrats, ASU College Republicans or even local legislative meetings.

“Just show up to things,” Adamson said. “That's where you get the opportunities, you meet candidates, you get to work with other people in the community who think like you.”

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Reagan PriestManaging Editor

Reagan Priest is a managing editor, overseeing and working with the six digital desks at The State Press. She previously worked as a social justice reporter for Cronkite News and as a digital production intern at The Arizona Republic.

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