November 3rd is rapidly approaching. We officially have Republican and Democrat nominees for President and Vice President, but do you know who else is on your ballot? In addition to voting for president, there are usually a variety of other elections for other offices you can vote for in your local area on election day. If you’re not sure who’s running for which office, it’s time you learn who they are, what they believe, and if you support them before going to the polls.
Voting is IMPORTANT
As a citizen of the United States of America, voting is one of the most important things you can do. In many ways, the right to vote has been a longstanding uphill battle in our country. The founding fathers outlined a pretty good system, but it has taken decades of work to ensure that we all, yes that’s right EVERYONE, may exercise their right to vote. The best way to appreciate it is to participate in the voting process at all levels of government. We should not take this privilege for granted. If you’re a person who is dissatisfied with certain aspects of your community, you especially want to participate in local elections. While presidential elections often seem like the most important ones, and y’all, Decision 2020 is a whopper for sure! It’s really the local elections that can have the biggest impact on your day to day life. The pothole on your street that popped your tire? Funding for greenways in your city? What time you can order a mimosa on Sunday at brunch? These are all decisions made by your local elected officials. We might not all have our candidate of choice win, and we do not have to agree with everything our elected officials do, but we do need to hold them accountable.
Holding your elected officials accountable
How do we do this?
Vote! Each election is a reminder to our elected officials that their job is on the line. If we are not satisfied with how they have represented us, we will vote for their opponent on the ballot.
Between elections, contact your representatives. They do not know if we like what they’re doing, are dissatisfied, or see areas for growth unless we tell them. Sitting back and complaining does nothing to solve problems, but speaking up can. Contact your representatives and let them know what you think of the job they’ve done. It’s tempting to only reach out with negative feedback, but it’s okay to let your elected officials know when they get it right too.
Get involved. There are volunteer positions aplenty in our community. Helping on a candidate’s campaign so they get elected or re-elected can make a difference. Serving on an education or citizen advisory board, even helping to organize elections in your area are ways to actively participate in your local political community. There’s something for everyone.
The big takeaway is that we have to pay attention. Sometimes politics can be boring and esoteric. Trust me, I know. I’ve personally endured hours of school board, board of supervisors, and federal committee meetings. There’s a lot of information covered and not all of it is relevant. It is an opportunity to hear about important things that can affect me and my family’s life. Budget allocation isn’t sexy, but where the money goes affects major outcomes. Will your local school division receive new social studies books for the first time in a decade? That might depend on the school board requesting it of the board of supervisors, and having that request granted. Glamorous? Nope. Vital to an informed population? Damn, right it is!
When we take the time to participate in politics at our local and state levels, we can cultivate community leadership that reflects the values that are most important to us as individuals. We positively influence our community by making known what we want and need to thrive. As we’ve seen recently, when we don’t pay attention we can get stuck with something that’s less than fabulous. And then it can be years before we have another chance to choose better.
Time is running out.
November 3rd is rapidly approaching, so you have two important steps to take. Get informed about your ballot. Really learn who’s running, not just their party affiliation. Not all Democrats are bad, nor are all Republicans good, and vice versa. Almost every critical issue that you care about is addressed in one way or another at the school board, board of supervisors, and state level of representation. Do you care about how the coronavirus is being handled? Do you care about racial reconciliation? Do you care about the economy? Of course, you do! The ballot that will determine the future of national politics also determines the immediate present for the individuals, children, and families in our homes, neighborhoods, and communities.
Also if you know or have met a local official in or around your district… thank them! These are some of the hardest working folks in our communities and rarely will they get the recognition and gratitude they deserve. Did you know that most of these folks serve in their role part-time while working other jobs and caring for their families? Having lots to do and not enough time to do it is a situation to which many of us can relate.
So, go vote! Vote early, vote by mail, just make sure you do the damn thing…
VOTE, get involved and make a difference where you are.