Local elections affect Truman students too

It’s finally that time of year again when the sun’s warmth graces us for the first time in months and suddenly flowers and municipal election candidate signs pop up in grassy areas around town. The buzz this year, however, seems to have less to do with bees and more to do with who will fill the vacancies on the Kirksville City Council, the Kirksville R-III School Board of Education and the Adair County Health Department’s Board of Trustees.   

Election day is April 6 this year and here’s why Truman students, who are eligible to vote in Adair County, should care; decisions made within the Kirksville City Council and the Adair County Health Department have an observable, lasting effect on Truman students, especially in our present moment. 

Learn more about candidates: City Council election heating up

The Kirksville City Council is a vital part of policy implementation affecting the local economy, infrastructure and wellbeing of Kirksville residents, which is especially important amid this current pandemic. As students, we are residents of Kirksville for as long as we’re in school, which could be four or more years. This is a significant amount of time to be impacted by these issues and subsequent decisions. If you have the ability to vote for a City Council candidate who you think will best represent your interests and needs as a student, take advantage of that opportunity. Even if you’re not going to be here for much longer, you should do your part to help improve City Council representation for the sake of the students and other community members who will be in Kirksville after you leave.

As we rightly consider how our actions might affect Kirksville in the future, it is perhaps more critical that we acknowledge the urgent, on-going health issues we currently face. The Adair County Health Department has been at the front and center of our community’s attention since the early stages of the pandemic. We are supposed to rely on its press releases for necessary public information and its guidance for the safest practices and policies. We can only rely on these, however, if we trust that the people creating this public information and guidance have our needs and interests in mind. As written on the front page of The Index recently, Jim LeBaron, Adair County Health Department’s administrator, said this might be the most important Health Department election in its history. 

University President Sue Thomas also announced during a Board of Governors meeting Feb. 6 that the University partially bases its policies on local health department guidelines. Therefore, it is in our best interest as students at Truman to have members of the Adair County Health Department’s Board of Trustees who advocate for the best possible COVID-19 guidelines. The City of Kirksville also takes guidance from the Health Department. Most Truman students don’t stay on campus all the time; we often live, shop and do various leisure activities off-campus, so city policies on COVID-19 also affect us.        

As Kirksville residents, it’s important to have our voices heard in matters involving this community. These matters have always impacted Truman students, but it’s even more imperative now — amid this continuing health threat — that we do whatever we can to make Kirksville a better, safer place to live for ourselves and our fellow community members.