Home away from home deserves your vote, voice

Quick: Where do you live most days of the week? Where do you pay taxes? What city do you depend on for water and trash pick-up? For emergency services? What city’s roads do you drive on?

Unless you are a commuting student, if you go to the Kent campus, chances are good that the answer to those questions is Kent, Ohio. Last week, this editorial board encouraged our readers to treat Kent as they would treat their hometowns. This week, we’d like to remind you that not only do you owe Kent the same respect and care you’d give your hometowns, but the city of Kent owes you the same rights it gives its more permanent residents.

While most students at Kent State will only live in the city of Kent for a limited time, this temporary home is still their home, whether they live on campus or off, and they receive the benefits of being a resident. Far too often, however, students don’t speak up, and the wants and needs of a large segment of this city’s population go unvoiced.

They complain about unfair noise violation citations and outrageous parking tickets behind closed doors, feeling as if there is nothing they can do to remedy the problems. They use the car ride to Akron or Cleveland to discuss the kinds of stores and restaurants that would encourage them to spend their evenings in town. The years pass, nothing changes, and another round of students comes to fill the spots left by the graduates.

Because our homes here tend to be temporary, most students don’t speak up when they have complaints or ideas; we don’t feel as if we have a venue where we can really be heard.

But that’s an unfair assumption.

One of the key components of democracy is the role of the elected official. The elected official depends on his or her constituents to vote him or her into office and, once they are there, to continue to support his or her work in the community. Without this support, they are not likely to be re-elected and will find themselves out of a job. So elected officials like to ensure their constituents’ needs are being taken care of.

That’s where you come in.

The members of the Kent City Council essentially work for you. There are three members at large who represent the entire city and six members who each represent a specific ward, or section of streets and neighborhoods in Kent. Everyone who lives in the city, including campus-dwellers, has a representative on council. These people want to represent the people living in their ward, but they can’t unless you make your concerns and ideas known.

Elections are tomorrow. If you’re registered to vote in the area, read up on the candidates and issues and voice your opinion through the ballot box. If you’re not registered in Kent or don’t have time to spare on Tuesdays, don’t fret: You can still make a difference.

Go to a council meeting. Meetings are on Wednesday evenings, and the calendar can be found online at kentohio.org under the Government, City Council tab. The next one begins at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14.

Not one for public speaking? Send your council member an e-mail or call them on the phone. Their home phones and business e-mails are listed on the site, as well.

Whatever you do, don’t be a victim of apathy. Get out there and take advantage of the opportunities you have available to you; your roommate is sick of hearing the same old complaints anyway.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.