Thursday, January 12, 2006

Second Pitt News - Spring break elections alienate student voters

Today is a two-for with The Pitt News. Great!
The Pitt News - Spring break elections alienate student voters Spring break elections alienate student voters

By JESSICA LEAR, Editor in Chief

Well, Pittsburgh, you just never learn, do you?

Here’s a hint: If you want young people to stay in the city, you need to make them feel like they matter, at least a little bit.

In true hometown fashion, City Council has decided to hold the special election to fill the District 3 seat on March 7. District 3 includes central and south Oakland.

Yep, March 7, right in the middle of Pitt’s spring break. That means most students won’t be around to vote for their representative.

I know, I know, most students don’t vote, anyway. And Pitt students have a tendency to leave the city right after graduation.

Something tells me, though, that the way to get them to vote and to hang around after college — which this aging city desperately needs — isn’t excluding them from the election.

Council President Luke Ravenstahl was out of town on business yesterday, and therefore unable to comment. So I don’t know yet why the Council tentatively chose March 7 for the election. There’s a press conference this morning to address the issue and announce a final date.

I’d really like to believe it isn’t some underhanded attempt to disenfranchise students. So, why not change the date?

There has been some pressure to make the election fair. Libertarian candidate Mark Rauterkus has been pushing Ravenstahl to move the election to Feb. 28.

He and others, including Councilman William Peduto of District 8, plan to attend a rally today in front of Hillman Library at 12:30 p.m.

Peduto ran a failed campaign last year against Bob O’Connor for the Democratic nomination in the mayoral election. The refreshing thing about his campaign was his attention to — and almost desperate plea for — the young vote.

What strikes me as odd about the District 3 special election is that Ravenstahl is a young man himself; he’s 25 and finished his undergrad degree at Washington and Jefferson just three years ago.

So maybe there is hope for Pittsburgh. Maybe the decision to hold the election while students will be away really was just an oversight.

In any case, the city’s leaders won’t know we care — we do, don’t we? — unless we tell them. So if you’re not registered to vote, register. If you are registered, vote.

And if you’re pissed off about possibly being excluded from this election, say something. Then, if that still doesn’t get them to change the election date, vote anyway. Don’t forget about absentee ballots.

One of Ravenstahl’s assistants told me yesterday that he expects a lot of phone calls about this, which seems to indicate he’s aware that holding the election during spring break is a bad idea. So let’s not let him down.

The City Council’s Web site is, and Ravenstahl’s phone number is (412) 255-2135.

E-mail Jess Lear at
Of big interest was the fact that Luke was "out of town" as some of this shook down. Luke went with the others, I think, to Columbus, Ohio, to check out a HOCKEY ARENA. Columbus, home of OSU.

Luke, Pitt needs a hockey arena too. Let's re-open the closed indoor ice rink on the South Side -- once Pitt's home ice. And, we can put Pitt's women's hockey team into the CIVIC Arena. Mario can build his own new arena, but we want to keep and re-open the other places too so we have a NET GAIN.

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