Local politicians Tony Exum, Yolanda Avila, and Senator Pete Lee stand with a golden retriever

Your Vote Matters: Local Reps Visit PPCC

By Devon Martinez – Student Editor

Representative Tony Exum of House District 17, Council-member Yolanda Avila of District 4, a PPCC graduate, and Colorado State Senator Pete Lee spoke to our own Journalism students from Parley on Wednesday and provided a clear argument on why they believe voting is so important.

According to some of Colorado’s representatives, local politics matters more to the average voter than national elections.

Lee argued that every vote counts, sharing a story about a Virginian election where the winner was decided by a coin toss, because both candidates had equal votes.

Voter participation affected Exum since he won in 2012 but lost in 2014. The difference in these elections had to do with voter turnout, since he won again in 2016 when the voting base was higher than 2014.

Problems that are dear to the community like access to transportation and education were motivators for why all three representatives got involved in politics, and since these issues are community based, they ran for office locally to solve these problems at the source.

Avila grew up in Colorado Springs but left for years to live in California. When she moved back to retire, she felt the city wasn’t the same.

She remembered asking herself, “what happened to my city?”

Avila eventually ran for office in 2015 and didn’t win. But that didn’t stop her, and she ended up winning in 2017. She is known for her work on accessibility, and is often accompanied by her guide dog Puma (pictured above).

In both elections only 30% of the population voted for City Council; it isn’t uncommon for candidates to win or lose with only a minority of the people voting.

Since being in office, Avila has noticed how fast change can occur if people are motivated, giving examples of the busing system changing several times at the will of motivated Colorado Springs citizens, for better and for worse.

“Cities are going to change the world,” Avila said.

Lee echoed Avila by arguing that people, “aren’t affected much by what comes from the White House.”

Exum explained that Colorado has worked hard to make voting easier by having mail-in ballots, so voters have the choice to go to a polling location or to send the ballot by mail.

All three urged students to not only vote, but to campaign and fight for community projects they believe in.

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