Kinnelon Students Meet the Midterms

On Nov. 8, many KHS seniors will partake in their first election with the opportunity to vote on their representative and other local officials.

Kinnelon’s municipal building is one of the polling locations in the area.

Photo Credit Spencer Sanczyk

Kinnelon’s municipal building is one of the polling locations in the area.

On Nov. 8, the 2022 midterm elections will take place. They will determine which party holds control of Congress for the second half of President Biden’s tenure. In New Jersey’s 11th district, where Kinnelon is situated, many seniors are excited for their first opportunity to vote, even if many are hazy on the candidates and their positions. 

An overwhelming majority of KHS seniors said they will take part in the upcoming election. Many were excited to fulfill their right to vote now that they are 18. Cameron Maher, a prospective voter, said, “Yes I’m voting, because I’m 18.” Similarly, Nic Roslan said, “Yeah I’ll vote. People died for my right to vote so why not use it.” The desire to take part in their democracy now that they have the right was prevalent among respondents.

Nationally, though, youth turnout is still depressed compared to other major demographics. According to the United States Census Bureau, “Voter turnout also increased as age, educational attainment and income increased. Voter turnout was highest among those ages 65 to 74 at 76.0%, while the percentage was lowest among those ages 18 to 24 at 51.4%.”

Despite many youths being frustrated with elderly politicians, they fail to turnout in large numbers. The public believes there are too many elderly members of Congress with “almost three in four Americans (73%) think(ing) there should be some sort of maximum age limit placed on elected officials” according to CNN. Alas, people aged 18-24 are the least involved age group. 

Even as KHS seniors are voting, many find it difficult to stay engaged with current political events. Two respondents pointed out that they will likely, “vote how my parents vote” due to an unwillingness to get engaged in what is seen as a toxic political environment. 

The race to determine the representative for the 11th district of New Jersey will help determine which party holds power in Congress. The incumbent, Democrat Mikie Sherrill who had her district redrawn after the 2020 census, is up against Republican Paul DeGroot. According to Politico, Biden would have carried the redrawn district by 17 points. This district’s overwhelming support of Biden during the 2020 presidential election points to a likely democratic victory. Further, Sherrill has far more cash on hand and is considered the favorite by polling sites.

Along with voting for the House of Representatives, Kinnelon residents will have multiple local authorities on the ballot. Within the town, the current mayor, Jim Freda, is running unopposed. For members of the borough council, voters only have Republican options and are choosing two councilmen from the group of James Lorkowski, Thomas Ott, Anthony Chirdo, and J. Eric Harriz. 

Considering Kinnelon is a predominantly Republican town, 46.5% are registered Republicans compared to 15.7% being registered as Democrats, the options for local officials tend to be solely Republican as they have the best chances for winning. 

Local officials often have the most direct influence on the lives of town residents. While national press coverage tends to center around the elected officials who will go to Washington, high schoolers appreciate the impact they can now make on their town. Ben Gross said, “after living here so many years it’s nice to finally have a say in how things are run.”