Seniors vote in the midterm elections


Radian Hong, Editor-in-Training

Some Rocklin High School seniors 18 years or older voted for the first time in the midterm elections held on Nov. 8.

According to the United States federal government, midterm elections are held every two years to fill vacancies in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. State and local elections often coincide with the midterms, including elections for members of the Rocklin Unified School District Governing Board.

“I really wanted to vote,” said Rocklin High School senior Samita Parija. “I’ve been looking forward to it.” She said that she found voting for the first time to be rather “underwhelming” because she had a mail-in ballot. She read informational pamphlets and researched bills and candidates she was unsure about to make her decisions. The contest with perhaps the most direct impact on students’ lives was that for the three seats on the school board that were up for election.

Trustee Michelle Sutherland, who graduated from Rocklin High School in 2002, was the only new member to win a seat. Sutherland is looking to implement vocational training opportunities for high school students in areas like money management and budgeting.

Part of what motivated Sutherland to run was a board meeting she attended during a series of budget cuts to schools. “There were students that came and spoke with a lot of emotion and conviction about issues that they felt needed attention. They didn’t want to lose teachers or programs that they cared about that had made a really huge impact on their lives,” she said. “Hearing the students be so involved and so brave really, to get up at a formal meeting in front of adults, it takes some bravery too. And so that was very impactful for me.”

Parija has found other ways to get involved in politics as well. She interned for Dr. Kermit Jones, a candidate for California’s third congressional district in the midterms. She planned to protest the overturning of Roe v. Wade at the Rocklin fireworks show, but found out too late that she lacked a permit to do so. She hopes to pursue a career in politics. “My dad doesn’t think I have thick enough skin,” she said.

Sutherland said that students seem to be more politically aware now than when she was in school. “What I’ve learned since becoming a voter and a parent and having a career and being active in local government is that the local elections and the local business that’s being done is really what impacts us on the day to day,” she said. 

Parija said that she sees democratic participation as her duty as a citizen. “I find it really annoying when people complain about our government when they don’t even participate or try to change what’s happening,” she said.