Voting can make all the difference in local government - to how a community deals with crime, to how children receive an education. The closest media incarnation of local government has been seen through the show Parks and Recreation and how Leslie Knope and the gang work hard to get every voter on their side for legislation. Parks and Rec definitely holds some truth in that you must push for every vote even when your community is heavily divided and even when your vote can be controversial. The following is a story of how I pushed to make every vote count, make every vote important, and to ensure that every voice was heard. I joined AAMUnite because I wanted my voice to be heard.
I grew up in a predominantly white, conservative, middle class county in Florida; however, the high school I attended was more on the lower income level. Also, in general there was a huge wealth disparity amongst the high schools in the county. Some high schools had nicer facilities and amenities, while others like mine had the complete opposite (e.g. older buildings, and unmodernized spaces). You could say my school was funded in the same way that duct tape is used to fix water leaks. So when a new proposal to set up a penny sales tax (one cent would be added to every sales tax transaction) was put forth for the county, voters were divided. In a conservative county, the idea of raising taxes was out of the question in many voters' minds. The new tax would be used to help schools improve infrastructure, from having newer books to upgrading computers. It was a proposal I greatly supported because we had to organize and fundraise tooth and nail for the simplest of resources. For me, it was simply getting sheet music for my choir - all I wanted to do was belt out some Handel without worrying if we could even have the music for it. Others believed the tax would be a financial burden.
This would be the first referendum I would be able to vote on (and you never forget your first!). I became very passionate on the issue. The penny sales tax referendum was a proposal that I believed would benefit my community in the long run, and would not destroy people’s finances as some believed (because really, a penny?? That’s one cent people!). I remember telling my peers at school who were of voting age to go out and vote ‘Yes’ on the referendum. I remember convincing my mother to vote yes for it as well. Though I was only able to get some voters to go out, I did my part to promote democracy in my community. The referendum passed 52% to 47%! This is kinda like how Leslie Knope won against Bobby Newport in the city council race!
Your voice through voting can make the biggest difference in your community. The referendum was able to get revenue to provide new computers for schools and even improve roads and trails in my neighborhood. Millennials' voices need to be heard and they can make all the difference. Be the Leslie Knope you wish to see in the world. Get your voice heard, care about local government, and after long days of being the badass civic engagement agent you are - remember to treat yo' self!