SPOKANE, Wash. -

Gonzaga University will host the first of two debates between senatorial debates between Republican challenger Chris Vance and incumbent Democratic Senator Patty Murray on Sunday.

With a presidential election that has consumed national attention, local political races often get swept under the rug.

“I have never before seen the kind of rhetoric that's come from this election,” said Louise Sullivan.

Sullivan is a graduate student at Gonzaga. She's been voting in national elections since 1976.

The national campaign has voters conflicted.

Some are firmly decided. Others are entirely uncertain. Many feel apathetic about voting at all.

This is an attitude that Spokane voters can understand.

"I think a lot of the local perspective, I know among my friends is, that we're never going to be as important as what the whole Seattle area thinks,” said GU Special Events manager Angela Ruff.

Census data shows that of the top ten most populous counties in Washington, only two (Spokane and Yakima counties) are on our side of the mountains.

For Eastern Washington voters, turnout in local elections is crucial.

“We definitely have to show our voice in the eastern part of the state if we want to show that we care,” Ruff said.

It's the local candidates who will be working directly with our community and our interests.

I think a lot of problems that people have with national elections is they feel that change is so stagnant afterwards and, local level is exactly where people can visibly see change the most.,” said GU student Ty Smith.

Our responsibility as voters goes beyond filling in a bubble. Being informed and involved in local political races, and their outcomes, isn't as high profile or entertaining as the 2016 presidential campaign has been.

But, it's equally, if not more so, effective.

“I tell people, you know, vote. It doesn't matter who you're voting for. Vote,” said Sullivan.

If you are a registered voter in Washington, be sure to check out all the candidates and measures on the ballot in November.

The senatorial debate starts at 7pm on Sunday, October 16. You can watch the on KXLY4 News or on our Facebook page.