It's probably cliche to make my last editorial before election day about voting, but I guess I will just have to jump on the bandwagon and follow along in all of my predecessors foot steps with this week's piece.
I have been extremely interested in the political process, both historically and current, for as long as I can remember. Some of the earliest memories I have are heading over to a neighboring ranch that was set up as the community of Mayfield's polling station when I was a kid so my parents could exercise their right to vote.
I was a kindergartner during the 1988 election. My class traveled across the hall to Mrs. Lamb's classroom so we could hold our own mock election with George H.W. Bush squaring off against Michael Dukakis. We chose either a blue or red poker chip and dropped them into an old Folgers can to make our choice. I can still remember the excitement that rushed through my little brain when my candidate won the presidential election of West Elementary and then went on to win it in real life too.
When Al Gore and George W. Bush squared off in the presidential election on Nov. 7, 2000 I was a week and a day away from being old enough to vote. I can still feel the stinging disappointment of not being able to use my voice. I was young and thought my vote could change the world.
I have already happily admitted to being a bit of a nerd and have let my geek flag wave in my editorials more then once, so I guess none of this should come as a surprise right?
I'm now the mom of two children who in my opinion are very knowledgable of world events for each of their ages. Part of that is because I have made a conscious effort to include them in conversations and allowed them to form their own opinions. I have always made sure that the way I explain things to them is suitable for their ages, but I have never told them they aren't old enough to take an interest in the world around them. My children always go with my husband or I to cast our ballots during elections. I have always told them that when they are of age I expect them to go to the polling booths on election day, even if mom doesn't agree with their choices.
There is never a time when your vote "doesn't even count" as we so often hear in areas like ours that are dominated by one party or the other. In fact when I hear that said I can't help but think and often very bluntly inform the person that "hey maybe if everyone who feels like you on this subject actually got up off their butts and took a few minutes to cast a ballot your vote could make a difference."
I'm not going to tell you it is your "right" to vote, because it is not. It is your responsibility as a member of our society to go vote on election day. However, it is also your responsibility to not only vote, but to be an informed voter, an educated voter.
There have been plenty of opportunities to learn about our candidates and the propositions that are on our local ballot this election cycle. It seems like our governor race alone this year has seen an unprecedented number of debates and attention on the candidates.
One cannot turn on a television or listen to the radio for more then a few minutes at a time without hearing or seeing a campaign ad. Many of them with opposing views and sometimes it all gets tiring. It's a constant barrage of "vote for this" and "don't vote for that" so what is one to believe.
It is true, that often times what is said during a campaign is not what happens when someone comes into office or when a proposition is voted into law by the people. Sometimes it is because a politician just said what their base wanted to hear and sometimes it's because they cannot get the support needed from the lawmakers they work with. All we can do as voters is listen to what each person has to say, read between the lines as best we can and choose who or what we think is the best choice for our communities.
I am not here to tell you how you should vote and I am not going to announce what my voting intentions are. I can tell you that I do not believe in voting a party line. I proudly consider myself an independent and I vote on each item separately without worrying about party affiliation. Having an elephant or donkey as a mascot does not matter to me when I choose my candidate.
I try to make a decision based off of how they land on issues that directly affect my life, my children's lives, our community and the industries that matter in our region. I look at what a candidate is saying and how they have voted in the past on key issues and try to make the best judgement about who will do the most to create an environment in which my family and our community will thrive. I hope you all take the time to do the same this election day.