Smaller elections can have big impact

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SAN DIEGO – Some of the smaller, less-publicized political races can still have a major impact on your life.

During the political season candidates for mayor, state representative and other high-profile races often become household names. Yet races for the school district, city council and judgeships can affect citizens’ daily lives, as well.

San Diego County Registrar of Voters Deborah Seiler explained how a city council race can impact residents.

“(City councils) have very large budgets,” said Seiler. “They may make decisions about which swimming pool stays open, how the parks get cleaned, if the tennis courts are maintained. The potholes in your neighborhood may be affected. How the city dollars are spent is a spending priority that is going to vary from person to person.”

If you have children or are just concerned about education in your community, it’s also important to read up on the candidates for school districts.

“Those are the people who are going to be making decisions about how that particular school district is governed,” said Seiler.

If you end up in a courtroom, one of the candidates for judge could end up making a decision in your case. You should be aware of the impacts a judge can have before casting a ballot.

“It ranges from imposing a sentence in a murder case,” said Howard Weiner, retired Associate Justice.  “To dealing with custody of kids in every kind of environment, making a determination as to who owes money, what rights neighbors have. It’s an equal branch of government with an enormous impact.”

Other races that are less publicized include special districts like water, fire or irrigation. The winners in these races will be helping run departments right in your neighborhood so it’s an important to make an informed choice.

For some of these races there aren’t many debates and public opportunities to hear from the candidates. However, there are a lot of online resources to help you learn about them. Most candidates have a personal website with their information. You can also find information and a sample ballot on the Registrar of Voters website.

The League of Women Voters of San Diego has information on many of the propositions and the League also has this website with more information on candidates and upcoming debates and forums.