Why Charlotte's primary election matters - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Why Charlotte's primary election matters

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Most Charlotte residents probably didn't realize Primary Election was taking place - even though voters are deciding final candidates for Mayor and City Council.

"The local races are critical because they set your tax rates at local level" says Eric Heberlig, a Political Science professor at UNC Charlotte. "They decide what type of services you're going to get in terms of police, fire, trash pickup, whether we do big ticket items."

Elections officials with the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections predict voter turnout for the primary likely won't top 10%.

Professor Heberlig says people tend to get "excited about Presidential contests" because those races have volatile, emotional, polarizing issues.

But Heberlig adds residents "distance themselves or not engage as much in local races" - even though these are the contests that directly touch voters.

"The impact you have on the local election - and thus local policies - is a lot greater than what you have in the presidential race."

Heberlig says the Mayoral race is significant because the winner will be the public face of the city of Charlotte and "articulate the vision of where Charlotte needs to go in the future."

Voters' choices for City Council races are equally important.

"The city council is the body that actually makes the ordinances which are local laws that govern what citizens can do" Professor Heberlig says. "They set budget and decide how tax money is going to be divvied out and what the taxes are people will pay."

WBTV talked with some Charlotte residents about voting in the primary.

Fred Ray said he voted because "it's important for me to vote because I want to see someone who's going to take care of schools."

Becky Peplinsky said "I like to stay on top of things and see different things happen to promote Charlotte and keep us moving in the right direction."

Joana Perez said she wasn't sure if she would vote Tuesday because "it just feels like it doesn't make a difference. It's the only reason I have I guess."

Another Charlotte resident told WBTV she might vote "in the next election." She said not on Tuesday because "I can't."

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