Centered: The Arizona K12 Center’s Executive Director, Dr. Kathy Wiebke, offers her education insights in this monthly column. I remember registering to vote when I turned 18. Like getting my driver’s license, it was another rite of passage, and an indicator I was growing up. Since then, I have votOct 10, 2018
Centered: The Arizona K12 Center’s Executive Director, Dr. Kathy Wiebke, offers her education insights in this monthly column.
I remember registering to vote when I turned 18. Like getting my driver’s license, it was another rite of passage, and an indicator I was growing up. Since then, I have voted in every election.
Have I always been an informed voter? The answer to that is an unequivocal, no. This is nothing to be proud of. Often times I followed the crowd, mimicked what I had done in the past, and dare I admit, voted for people who talked the talk without walking the walk.
As I have matured (or more bluntly stated, aged), the things I care most passionately about have come into a very sharp focus. It is education I care most about and then right behind it, how we care for the most vulnerable among us. I believe that having a quality education system is the linchpin to economic growth and the overall vitality of Arizona.
Like many, I have become frustrated with the partisan divide. I have been disheartened by the number of politicians who put party and their own self-interests ahead of listening to their constituents and doing what is right. The last two years, I decided to do more than complain by getting engaged in the political process and supporting those candidates and issues I care most about. As a result, I have sent emails, made phone calls, donated money, and talked to strangers about the issues and candidates I support.
Last Friday was no different. I was picking up balloons for a fundraiser I hosted. The girl blowing up the balloons asked if I was having a party. I told her it really wasn’t a party, but rather a fundraiser. When I told her the name of the candidate, she and her friends looked at me and asked, “Who is he?”
I was dumbfounded. I urged the three of them to register to vote and get to know the candidates on the ballot. I told them it was simple — all the information is readily available online and we need everyone to vote, especially young people.
One of the girls confessed, “I don’t vote because I am afraid I will vote for the wrong person.” I encouraged her to do three things:
- Register to vote.
- Find out who is running on her ballot and visit their websites.
- Exercise your civic duty… Vote!
As I walked away, I found myself wondering how these girls could not know about a candidate running for a statewide office and more importantly, I was baffled by someone’s fear of voting.
I shared this story with the woman who does my nails. She confided in me — she, too, was afraid of making the wrong decision. For many years, she did not vote. She told me the story of a client telling her that she was too dumb to vote. I was flabbergasted. That comment angered her so much that she made it a point to become informed and ask questions of those around her. Today, she is a voter, but struggles to get her mother and boyfriend to do the same.
In my family everyone voted. We certainly never agreed and still don’t, but we all vote.
I recently saw this short video, “Don’t Vote,” put out by Adweek. When you don’t vote you are letting others make the decisions for you. Plain and simple. And, unfortunately, in Arizona, many of our elected leaders are putting their own self-interests front and center. Until we all get involved and vote, nothing will change.
So, why am I sharing this with you? Well, because like I did to the women above, I ask you to do the same three things:
First, if you are not already, register to vote. The deadline to register in Arizona is midnight on Oct. 9. It is easy and you can do it online.
Second, get to know the candidates and issues on your ballot. Everything you can possibly want to know and more is on the Secretary of State’s website. If you browse a bit, you will even find links to the candidates and issues. Didn’t get the publicity pamphlet? You can access it here. Study the issues and candidates.
Lastly, vote on Nov. 6 and get your family and friends to do the same. If you need a ride to the polls, Lyft is offering 50 percent off on rides to voting stations. There are volunteers on all of these campaigns that will help you get where you need to be.
Your vote does matter. We pay a lot of attention to the people running for national and statewide office because their commercials are on the television and ads are in our social media feeds. But across Arizona there are people running for your local city council and school boards. There are issues about desert lands and parks. There are school bonds and override elections. All of this impacts the overall quality of our lives.
You matter, and collectively, we all matter. Get registered, become informed, and vote.