To the Editor:

It is easy, as a young person, to feel like you don’t have a place in politics. Like many of my peers, I was unable to vote in the 2016 presidential election, as I was only seventeen years old. However, the results of that election have affected me currently and President Trump's actions will leave a lasting stain for myself and my generation. This being said, it is time for the young adults in Chatham to have our voices heard in this years midterm election. 

Whether you are a Chatham High School student of voting age or a college student from Chatham, it is not only important but vital for us to vote in this upcoming election. Rodney Frelinghuysen has been our district's Congressional representative since 1995 which, for many of us, is years before we were even born. For our entire lives, we've had the same representative but, with this coming election, we have finally been given a choice. Congress has an average 96% incumbent re-election rate, which means any candidate running against Frelinghuysen would most likely have lost. However, he has decided to release his position to two new candidates, leveling the playing field and making this election even more important. Now, more than ever, our vote in Congressional elections count. 

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This being said, choosing a candidate to support is difficult. Politics is often considered too taboo to be spoken about in high school and being away at college can cause us to forget or not even know who is running in our hometown. Thus, it is up to us individually to research our candidates. One of the easiest ways to figure out who is running is on Vote411.org, where you can get a personalized (mock) ballot with the names of each of the candidates. From there, do your research. I promise it will not take you much time or, even better, use it as a (productive) way to procrastinate. I can't stress enough how important it is to make these decisions on your own. It is easy to blindly follow your parents' opinions. It is equally as easy to follow your friends. However, YOUR vote is YOUR voice. Not to mention, it is private and confidential. Use it as a way to make a change without having to even say a word. 

As for my vote, I have decided to support Mikie Sherrill as our next Congressional representative. I met Mikie in July of 2016, when she first began her Congressional campaign. She is a graduate of the Naval Academy and served our nation both as a Navy Pilot and as a former federal prosecutor. Mikie supports common sense gun control, is a believer and advocate of climate change, and cares strongly about veterans and our national security because of her background in the Navy. Most importantly, to me, is that she is a strong advocate of women's rights, something her opponent does not have the best track record of. This being said, you do not have to agree or vote in alignment with me. However, you do need to vote.

Eisenhower once said "the future of this republic is in the hands of the American voter" and guess what? The future is ours. Get out and vote or get those mail-in ballots in on time.

See you at the polls,
Julia Contorno 

Chatham