The mayoral race in the city of Binghamton is well underway, and Binghamton University students must take full advantage of the opportunities to learn more about local politics and their effect on the community. The race between Democratic candidate Tarik Abdelazim and the incumbent, Republican Rich David, will be the center of a series of events to be held in the coming weeks.

It’s important to understand that Binghamton is not just the name of our university, but a real city with real people, politics and problems. If you live within city limits, as many upperclassmen do, participating in this election is a way to ensure that you are using your voice to impact the future of the city and the institution that bears its name.

Pipe Dream reiterates this sentiment frequently; however, it’s important to consider the tangible impacts the mayor’s office has on our everyday lives. The mayor of Binghamton not only serves the residents of the city of Binghamton, but also the University — so the office ultimately affects you whether you live on-campus or off. The mayor has a say in the routes of Off Campus College Transport’s blue buses in Downtown Binghamton — the switch from the DCL route to the DCR was a highly debated topic after complaints from local residents last fall, necessitating constant communication between the University and the city.

The mayor of Binghamton is also responsible for deploying police on State Street on Friday and Saturday nights, and the mayor’s office was also on board to install blue lights on the West Side, citing the safety of students as motivation for the proposal.

If you have ever supported or been unhappy with any of these propositions, or have taken part in protests and marches against these city policies, you have seen the effects of local government on the University.

The best way to kickstart your involvement as a constituent is to attend a debate. You’ll be able to hear both candidates speak about their ideas for the city and its involvement with the University. You’ll also be able to hear them answer questions from residents and voters, and you can use these answers in order to make your own informed decision on who to cast your ballot for.

There will be three main events in which the candidates will speak about their platforms and ideas. The city of Binghamton mayoral debate will be held on Sept. 26 at the New York State Office Building on Hawley Street. Due to limited seating, priority will be given to Binghamton Chamber of Commerce members, but if you can’t secure a spot, don’t be discouraged. There are two more events that are open to the public.

The SUNY Broome College Democrats will hold a town hall for Abdelazim on Sept. 26. This will also be an opportunity to hear about his vision for the city and ask questions about it relates to the University and higher education in the area.

Finally, the Center for Civic Engagement and Vote Everywhere will host “An Evening with the Binghamton Mayoral Candidates” on Oct. 4 at the University Downtown Center, where the questions for the candidates come from students. There is an online form for question submission, so you can even participate in the action from your phone by asking about your own concerns.

No matter which event you choose to attend, make sure that you have a place in the room where it all happens. To raise up the Binghamton community, you must raise your voice. These policies matter, and they affect Binghamton students both on and off campus. You have the opportunity, the power and the obligation to impact the future of a community in which you will spend four years of your life.