Every time I invite people to register and vote I get the same questions. Why vote?
The municipal elections are very close and they affect us more than the federal elections. The way the mayor and city council people do business has a direct impact in our daily lives.
Presidential elections have a lot of media campaigning involved but local campaigning should bring us close to people that we should know about. If you have never seen your candidate, then probably he/she has not been involved in the life of the city.
In close environments like city or town you can easily attend council meetings and also learn about how city administrators are conducting business.
Take a look at the parks. Find out if the small businesses and start-ups are getting any information or help from the administration.
What kind of relationship exists between the school corporation and the city? Are newcomers welcomed? Is the city diverse? Has the city made any effort to include all when decisions are made? Is only one section of town benefiting from the grants, federal moneys and development?
A couple of years ago during the general election I questioned what would happen after the presidential election was finished. My concern was that the euphoria that took place at that time would give way to complete apathy at the local level and people would sit and wait for ‘someone’ to put out a liberal hand that would solve all financial troubles.
Of course that ‘someone’ did not exist and never came, but at the same time concerned local citizens have been working to change the ways that may help others survive the recession, get better food, have better schools, etc.
Have you noticed how much fresh food was available through the local farms and markets? Did you notice how local people became involved in restoring empty houses, creating community gardens and participating in the local discussions?
There has been change and more good change can come about, if citizens become more aware of the issues and how elected people manage them.
In the last years there have been many national scandals that have made politicians retire because of moral or financial problems. There seems to be a lot of corruption taking over the political system. At the local level you and I can help control the administration not only by keeping track of the issues and the solutions offered, but also by making sure that candidates respond to the voice of concerned citizens.
By the same token we can complain, mumble, and even scream out loud about the many wrongs that we see in the system, but if we are not ready to participate then we deserve the kind of government that we have or have not elected.
The minimal participation and responsibility of a citizen is to exercise the right to vote.
And for those who say: I do not participate in politics because I do not believe in the process, once more I say to them, “You are also being political by not participating. If you are a member of any community and therefore benefiting from been in society, it may be better to acknowledge your place in that society.”
If you do not like the current state of affairs of the city are you ready to be part of a change? If not, we can always remember that people have the government they deserve, because they have chosen it.
It does matter that you vote. It is your voice – and the only person who can silence your voice is you.
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