October 05, 2020

Be seen and be heard. All the way to the end of the ballot.

“Voting is the expression of our commitment to ourselves, one another, this country, and this world.”  – Sharon Salzberg

If you are tired, I do not blame you. All of us are. Policy advocacy is one of my favorite parts of Chamber work, and one of my favorite parts of the job. As such, I watch elections closely and enjoy seeing the democratic process play out every year. And even I am tired this year. This election cycle has been long and contentious.

The good news – soon is the time to stop talking about the vote and time to begin casting ballots. We will have a respite from the campaign speeches and debating.

The official date of the election is November 3 but early voting in Texas starts next week – Tuesday, October 13. While the national attention is naturally on the top of the ballot with the presidential race, please be sure to prepare for, and vote in, your local races. Local election ballots may be last on the ballot, but they are the first to impact your daily life. Races for school district, city council, and county commission are all on the ballot this year. These institutions touch all of our lives directly.

“Every vote cast on election day means that we the people have taken a hand in shaping our nation’s future.” – Ronald Regan

To be sure, there are important issues on the top of the ballot too. However, we have seen Washington D.C. temporarily grind to a halt over any number of partisan disagreements over the years. Local governments simply cannot function that way. If D.C. gets stuck on a spending bill, the world usually still turns, people go to their jobs, and the country can still carry on. Disruptions are typically a distant inconvenience.

Conversely, if your local city council cannot agree on public infrastructure spending for example, then water services or road maintenance or public safety investments are jeopardized, and the impact can be noticed, if not felt, almost immediately. All year school districts have been making important and impactful decisions that directly influence the experience your child has at school in this time of COVID-19.

My point is this, from the presidency all the way down to dog-catcher, your voice matters. Frustrated voters will often speak about wanting to “be seen” and “be heard”. Most of us long to see governments reflect both our principles as well as our policy preferences. In our great country, this is how we do it. We choose leaders by casting ballots alongside our neighbors and others from our community.

“Voting is the first duty of a democracy.”  – Lyndon B. Johnson

When it is all over, when all the balloons and streamers have been picked up and the yard signs come down, we do what business people always do. We get back to business. Here at the Chamber, we will roll up our sleeves and set to work with whomever the voters send to office. Round Rock has always found success in collaborations across institutions, and we can find success still by seeing continued partnerships with others.

But the process needs you. It doesn’t start with grand plans, twenty-year comprehensive investment strategies, or advocacy platforms. It begins with the citizens of our community selecting leaders.

And because the selection of leaders is so important, that makes your voice important.

“Many forms of government have been tried, and will be tried in this world … No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”  – Winston S. Churchill



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