October 05, 2021

POV: Local Elections Are Your Chance to Be Represented

There is a lot going on these days–so trust me, when you sit down and drink that cup of coffee and momentarily freak out that you might have missed something, I just want to be that calming voice that says, “You are good, it is just a lot right now.”  Among all of the things, it is, once again, election season and while this may be an unpopular opinion, I am going to roll with it–election cycles outside of Presidential election have the greatest impact in our communities.

I happen to live in Salt Lake City where City Council elections are the focal point. These folks will help shape the Inland Port, pass city ordinances, and have a say in infrastructure projects among many other things. And I feel like I say it a lot (sorry, not sorry), but no matter how burned out you are, you can’t give up and tune election season out. It matters too much.  

My dad and I were walking the dogs the other day and he said to me, while pointing to a city council candidate’s yard sign, “I don’t understand those people who come around and talk about them. Those ladies who came by the house the other day, I just told them I wasn’t interested and they asked me why. I don’t understand why they want to know why I am not interested.” Admittedly the first words out of my mouth were defensive and I said, “You realize I am that person? I knock on doors for people running for office.” But then I calmed and told him, “They are wondering why you aren’t interested because their candidate is running to represent you. We have four candidates in our neighborhood running for City Council and you’re going to have to choose. So, their perspective is that you should be interested because it’s your opportunity to learn as much as you can. One of those four will be making decisions about our neighborhood.”  

Recently our friends and UNA members at KUER on the State Street podcast went into a deep dive about the Utah Way. What has been clear to me over the years is that each of us has different perspectives and experiences and because of that our conclusions on things are vastly different. So, I also understand that if you are among the minority in Utah politically and religiously (let’s just take this angle) you may feel left out of the process which can reinforce the concept that, “my vote doesn’t count”.  

I once knew I guy who ran for City Council and he lost by dozens of votes. Not hundreds or thousands, dozens. Such a small margin that he once said to me, “Sometimes I wonder if that one Saturday I didn’t knock on doors was worth it.” I assure you that each and every election deserves all voters to show up for it and cast their ballot. Each and every resident living in our communities deserves to have elected officials in positions of power and influence that represent their community. Voting is perhaps one of the easiest forms of practicing democracy and living a life understanding the importance of advocacy and civic engagement. Now is the time to share your voice and cast your ballot.  

To that end, UNA has our Advocacy and Civic Engagement Credential coming up and Advocacy Essentials tomorrow. You can find out if local elections are happening in your community here. And to register to vote, you can reach out to UNA member, VOTERISE by texting VOTERISE to 788-683.