Consider this: 51% of Santa Monicans who are 18 or older who are also under 45. When you read the newspaper coverage of a local issue or listen or watch a hearing in City Hall, how many of those present or speaking in the audience fall into that age group?
I’m guessing far less than half.
Younger Santa Monicans are busy making careers, making families, and making friends. Most of us are understandably averse to showing up to speak for two minutes at a single 8 hour council meeting. Between the City Council and more than a dozen boards and commissions, the city holds meetings almost every night. Most of us can’t afford to devote half of our lives to ensuring we’re heard.
That means the best chance for us to be heard on local issues is at the ballot box. But younger residents, many of whom have moved here more recently, are less likely to register with their local address and vote all the way down the ballot to the city election.
At Next, we believe that local policy matters as much or more to our lives than state and federal policy.
Local policy decides if and how fitness trainers can use the city’s parks, whether a restaurant or cafe can open down the street, and if and how it can serve alcohol or whether or not the city adds new housing supply, which can alleviate rent increases in newer buildings not subject to rent control.
The city council decides if and how AirBNB-type rentals can exist in the city (in many cases, they can’t). Renting out an extra bedroom can help some households afford their rent or mortgage is someone loses their job.
If these issues matter to you, then register locally, get informed on local issues, and vote locally this Fall. If you don’t, you’re letting someone else make these decisions for you.
Santa Monica Next will help you with the first two, registering to vote (easy), and getting informed on local issues. And we’re going to have fun doing it. As part of our Vote Local campaign, we Santa Monica Next will be holding happy hour events where we spend some time getting to know the issues and candidates while making friends. We’ll also ramp up our news coverage, with the addition of Jason Islas, a veteran Santa Monica reporter. Local policy is complex, and Jason’s in-depth coverage of issues relevant to our audience will help us delve below the surface to a better understanding of the complexity and interconnections.
It’s up to you to make your vote count in November. But if you’re already voting on state and national elections, that shouldn’t be too big of a step.