In 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama mobilized the youth vote to win the presidency. This election cycle, without such a charismatic figure up for election, student enthusiasm is down. But these elections are no less important. At the federal level, Democrats are fighting to maintain their control of Congress. And Michigan voters will elect a new governor who they hope will pull the state out of its economic slump. Today, you have the opportunity to decide who will lead your government. So head out to the polls. And keep these things in mind when you’re filling out your ballot.

The race for the Michigan governor’s office has been long — and dominated by Republican Rick Snyder. But despite his popularity, Snyder’s plan to reform taxes won’t help to balance the budget. Democrat Virg Bernero has the executive experience as mayor of Lansing to bring jobs to Michigan and manage the state’s troubled budget. Vote VIRG BERNERO for governor.

You can’t argue with 55 years of experience. As the U.S. representative from the 15th District, JOHN DINGELL brings a wealth of knowledge about D.C. politics and the ability to maneuver legislation through Congress. Once again, he is right for the job.

In the race for the 18th District state Senate seat, Republican John Hochstetler’s lack of progressive enthusiasm and interest in tax abatement isn’t going to get him the needed support to take the vacant seat. His Democratic opponent and current state House representative from the 53th District, REBEKAH WARREN, has experience and a background focused on pushing for progressive social change like a woman’s right to choose to have a child, stem cell research and marriage equality for everyone.

Vying for Warren’s recently-vacated seat in the 53rd District in the state House, the experience that Democratic candidate Jeff Irwin boasts far surpasses his Republican opponent, Chase Ingersoll. JEFF IRWIN missed the 53rd District debate against his opponent, but his stances on social issues and experience as a member of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissions will benefit area residents.

Though incumbent Republicans Andrea Fischer Newman and Andrew Richner are experienced members of the University Board of Regents, new opinions are needed. Democratic challengers PAUL BROWN and GREG STEPHENS will fight against tuition increases and bring new voices to a board disconnected from students’ needs.

Independent challenger Steve Bean, who is running for Ann Arbor mayor, has ideas to educate about green policies. But he doesn’t have a wide understanding of how to keep young professionals within city borders. Mayor John Hieftje’s last 10 years in office have proven him worthy of re-election. His dedication to making Ann Arbor environmentally friendly has gotten the city government to run on 20 percent renewable energy. Because of his desire to create a vibrant city culture and expand green initiatives, you should vote JOHN HIEFTJE for mayor.

Ann Arbor residents should vote for TONY DEREZINSKI for Ward 2 and CARSTEN HOHNKE for Ward 5 of the Ann Arbor City Council. Incumbent Derezinski is one of the most knowledgeable members on the council. He has unique plans on how to manage the budget and is dedicated to continuing to increase the number of miles of bike lanes in the city. Also an incumbent, Hohnke’s personal businesses afford him the experience to adequately manage the budget. He has also expanded recycling projects around the city.

Vote YES on PROPOSAL 1 to update the Michigan constitution. The passage of this proposal would allow voters the option to call for a constitutional convention. While holding a constitutional convention is expensive, removal of particular amendments could grant more civil liberties for Michigan citizens, especially members of the LGBT community.

Vote NO on PROPOSAL 2, a policy that would prevent people who have been convicted of violating public trust from being allowed to hold public office. Voters should have the prerogative to decide whom they deem suitable for elected positions.

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