Wednesday, April 23, 2014 5:23 AM
Published on: Thursday, October 17, 2013
By Donna Broadway
TAKOMA PARK - On Nov. 5, the youngest voters in America will step up to the polls in the Takoma Park city elections. In May, the city council voted to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in the upcoming elections. The council also passed an ordinance allowing candidates to campaign at apartment buildings and allowing ex-felons to vote.
“We have some 16- and 17-year-olds who are excited to vote. I, myself, have already been campaigning in apartment buildings that have no soliciting signs out front. I hope we see a few more residents of apartment buildings voting, even though we only have one out of seven contested positions. We on the council know that we need to be serving those people and when people come out to vote, it means we need to pay extra attention to representing them,” said Councilmember Tim Male, Ward 2.
In the 2013 elections, Mayor Bruce Williams; Councilman Seth Grimes (Ward-1); Councilman Tim Male (Ward-2); Councilwoman Kay Daniels-Cohen (Ward-3); Councilman Terry Seamans (Ward-4); Eric Mendoza, three-time candidate for Ward 4; Councilman Jarrett Smith (Ward-5); and Councilman Fred Schultz (Ward-6) have registered as candidates in the election.
“It’s been so fun much to get all the things done that we’ve wanted to get done in the last two years, and that’s everything from getting to build sidewalks people have wanted for a decade, we became the first place in the country to pass a lower voting age, the first place in the country to pass a cosmetic lawn pesticide ban. That is just incredibly rewarding, helping people,” Male said.
Mendoza, 37, is a three-time Ward 4 candidate. He has lived in the city for over 30 years and is a tech at Reagan National Airport. He says he has spent his adult life helping children with basketball camps, mentoring and financial problems.
“Every time I’ve run it’s never been a competition, I’m not the one to say ‘vote for me.’ My whole thing is to uplift the community and teach people about voting and maybe if they see me coming forward, maybe people will start voting. This is my first time trying and it’s still hard for me to get people to get out and vote,” Mendoza said. “The person who I am going against, he’s been in Takoma Park longer than I have. He’s an older gentleman and he has a backing. He has people who are following him and are around him all day and voting day; they’re with him and even though I’m more popular, it’s hard for me to get the residents to come and support me and I can’t be mad at that because they’re working two and three jobs, and they’re tired and they don’t want to take that time out to walk up and cast a vote.”
Seamans also spoke about the youth and growing educational and job opportunities.
“One of the key things is that we need some assistance for our young adults and getting more opportunities for employment. That means we need more jobs and we need some education programs for young adults so that they can qualify for a higher level of self sufficiency,” Seamans said.
Seamans says he has implemented social media in his campaign to reach 16- and 17-year-olds now eligible to vote and will be launching a Facebook and Twitter page. Seamans is also campaigning in apartment buildings.
The Takoma Park City election will be held on Nov. 5, 2013. For voter information, visit www.takomapark.gov.