This is an archived article that was published on in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Now that the Utah primary is over, our nation's political attention has turned toward the Democratic and Republican National Conventions and the 2016 presidential election.

Here in Utah, the tumultuous 2016 political cycle has brought a wave of newly-registered voters. During the neighborhood caucuses, Democrats saw more than 17,000 new voters and record caucus attendance. Sen. Bernie Sanders inspired many, young and old, who had traditionally sat on the sidelines, to show up and vote. During the primary election, we saw another large turnout statewide by both Democrats and Republicans.

But with Sanders out and Donald Trump at the top of the GOP ticket, many people now wonder: Will Utahns now stay home in November? Will Sanders' supporters remain engaged if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee? Will Trump keep voters from both parties from going to the polls on Nov. 8?

To those disenchanted with the presidential race, we say: Look to our many state and local races, and stay engaged! State and local elections are not simply watered-down versions of what many perceive as the pick-your-poison national spectacle of 2016. These candidates affect us more than we may realize: They determine how much funding our public schools get and control the administration of important programs like Medicaid expansion. For better or for worse, state and local elections can bring about tremendous change. Moreover, state and local governments often drive national policy, more so than some of your Utah elected officials would have you believe.

In many way,s the Utah election does not mirror the national one, and frustration with the latter need not preclude participation in the former. Many of our local races feature first-time candidates who finally have a reason to believe they can wrestle democracy away from corporate interests and entrenched politicians. This is a good thing for our democracy! These candidates, determined to infuse ethics and integrity into government at every level, will be fueled only by your vote and support on Nov. 8.

Insurgent candidates cannot elect themselves. They need you, me and the other people who showed up to caucus meetings on March 22 (and those who didn't), to show up again in November with their families and friends, all of whom are beginning to question our worsening air quality, the state of our water supply, the lack of respect towards our education system, a health insurance system that leaves too many without health care and our neglected transportation system.

As Sanders stated: "We need to engage in local politics in an unprecedented way. Now we need many of you to start running for school boards, city councils, county commissions, and state legislatures."

And we need you to vote for those brave enough to step up and run for office. Vote for them on Nov. 8, vote for them in every midterm election, and be ready to vote for them in 2018 and again in 2020. It will be your voice that elects local leaders who, city by city, will improve our communities. And it will be your perseverance, and maybe even your individual vote, that elects the candidate who believes in the issues that you support. We are faced with a choice: We can turn our backs or we can double down, we can fight, and we can make change.

Staying home in November does nothing to challenge the establishment; it propels it. Every election cycle, Utah's GOP incumbents bet on a disillusioned and disengaged electorate who have been falsely led to believe change in Utah is impossible. The powers that be count on apathy to insulate their structures. This year, do not let it be so. Thousands registered to vote this year to create a new voice in Utah, one we believe better represents Utah values. Now, we have to get them and ourselves to the polls if we want to actually see this positive change.

Staying home does nothing to honor those newly inspired candidates who have put their names on the ballot to improve our lives and return our democracy to the people. Let's elect state and local leaders who mirror our Utah values and keep fighting to create change from the bottom up.

Peter Corroon is the chair of the Utah Democratic Party, former Salt Lake County mayor and a Bernie Sanders super-delegate at the Democratic National Convention. Katie Christensen is a student, environmental activist, public lands proponent and Bernie Sanders supporter.