Opinionated? Vote in the Irving mayoral election

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Kristi Peña is one of four candidates running for the position of mayor of Irving. Photo by Kaity Chaikowsky.

If you’ve driven around Irving recently, you might have seen the myriad of political yard signs dotting the neighborhoods surrounding the university. These signs are the product of the campaign for the mayorship of Irving and other local elections coinciding with elections across North Texas. The Irving election is set for May 6, with early voting available until May 2.

Incumbent mayor Beth Van Duyne, who began her tenure as mayor in 2011 and who has been a controversial figure, will not be running for re-election.

Van Duyne, a vocal supporter of president Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign, became notorious for her opposition to what she believed to be “sharia law” and her opposition to sanctuary cities for undocumented immigrants living in the United States. She is reported to be taking a position in the Trump administration.

Without Van Duyne running, there is an opening for new faces, as those who might not have run against an incumbent are now more willing to run. Come election day, Elvia Espino, J.C. Gonzalez, Rick Stopfer, and Kristi Weaver Peña will be on the ballot.

All four candidates hope to bring job growth and progress to the city of Irving, each armed with a different vision.

Irving is a large city that has seen a lot of growth, something anyone driving around the university could tell you. It is also home to the most diverse zip code in the United States. According to Business Insider, the zip code is “26 percent Asian, 25 percent Black, 23 percent Hispanic, and 23 percent White.”

As University of Dallas students, the race for Irving mayor should be important to us. The winner will help decide which direction Irving will take, and as the university is located within Irving, UD itself will be affected.

Maybe you want to see Irving run well because you’re a politics major interested in the governmental process. Or maybe you just don’t want potholes all over the road when you’re getting fast food at 3 a.m. because you’re cramming for a final. Either way, what happens in the rest of Irving should be important to UD. As much as we cherish the Bubble, we aren’t completely separate from the rest of the city.

While many of us cannot vote because we are not residents of the city, taking an interest in the political landscape around us is still important. For those with some free time, there are volunteer opportunities available to canvas for each candidate.

Local elections may not be as exciting as national elections, such as the recent presidential election, but they are just as important. Also, your vote tends to go much further in local elections, as fewer people tend to participate. In the 2015 election Mayor Beth Van Duyne won with 4,934 votes, while her opponent, Herbert A. Gears, garnered 2,167 votes. Out of Irving’s almost 237,000 residents, this accounts for only about 3 percent of the population actually showing up to vote.

Even though most UD students can’t vote in these elections, there are steps they can take to get involved in local politics more generally.

Vote in the local elections around where you live. Find out when elections around you are being held. Research the candidates thoroughly, volunteer if you have time and, most importantly, go out and vote. As important as national elections are, local governments are where you will feel the real effect of political legislation.

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