As the Nov. 5 municipal election approaches, two Radnor Township Commissioner seats are up for election in wards three and seven for four-year terms. For junior class senator Matt Clarkin, this election is important because of the effect that Ward Commissioner position has on Villanova and the surrounding area.
“The commissioners are really the most local form of government that we have,” Clarkin said. “They make the day to day decisions about the people living not just in Villanova, but in some of the surrounding areas. All of Radnor Township is governed by this, and they are basically a legislative body. They’ll debate different issues about the community and try to work with local citizens to address different problems.”
Besides impacting Radnor Township, the Commissioners also have an impact on the future of construction and building expansion here.
“These are the people who decide what Villanova gets or what we don’t get,” Clarkin said. “We’ve gone through a massive campus transformation, and every single person on that township commission has a say in which direction Villanova can go. Making sure we have a positive relationship with them, not just the University, but as students, with our elected representatives is really important.”
According to Clarkin, the students who are eligible to vote for the commissioner positions must live in wards three and seven, which include main campus dorms such as Sheehan and Sullivan Halls, southwest campus dorms Moriarity and O’Dwyer Halls, South Campus dorms Stanford, Katherine, and St. Monica Halls and the Commons.
“Right now, Villanova’s gerrymandered, specifically our wards make it such that our community can’t vote as one block,” Clarkin said. “There are four different wards across the entirety of Villanova. South campus is split so that Stanford, St. Monica, and Catherine vote in one ward, and Good Counsel, Caughlin, and McGuire vote in another. West campus is cut out into its own ward. Because we can’t vote as one block, voting as a whole is really important.”
To prepare students for the upcoming election, the student government has revealed a new committee, the Special Committee on Student Voter Empowerment, to promote voter registration and participation on campus.
“A few weeks ago, our senate approved the creation of a special committee called the Special Committee on Student Voter Empowerment, which I am the chair of along with four other senators, our Director of PR relations, and one of our associate justices on the Judicial Counsel,” Clarkin said. “It’s really an inter-Student Government effort, but we’ve also been working for the Let’s Vote Nova campaign and working with college Republicans and college Democrats.”
Although the committee is working with political parties, Clarkin stresses the non-partisan nature of the organization as well as it is run by students for students.
“The Let’s Vote Nova campaign is completely non-partisan,” Clarkin said. “We’re not choosing any which side. We’re really here to just help students register to vote and know what’s happening on election day, so who’s running and kind of giving them that information, that education that they need.”
To find out about the election, the Student Voter Empowerment committee will be knocking on the doors of students who are eligible to vote as well as tabling during the week.
“The table will be near the Oreo every Wednesday until the deadline,” Clarkin said. “The deadline for voter registration for Pennsylvania is Oct. 7. After the voter registration deadline ends, we will kind of wrap up our registration and tabling and door knocking, and we’ll transition into voter education, letting students know where they can vote, making sure that they know they have transportation to voting. We’ll have buses on election day to both of the polling locations so that students could just hop on the bus, vote and come back.”
For Clarkin, these elections are important because they affect our lives here at Villanova, which is our home.
“We’re here for four years this is where we eat, sleep, learn and grow and all different sorts of things,” Clarkin said. “This really does become a home. I know we express that a lot when you’re looking at Villanova for admissions and when you’re getting a tour, but I think at the end of the day, it really is home. We’re trying to encourage students to vote in local elections and prep for next year for the election in 2020, which is going to be huge. Just getting people excited about engaging with their community I think is important.”