By Andrea Price
It takes a village to raise a child” is not just a phrase, it is a philosophy. A philosophy that I strongly believe in. Yes, I have children that I am responsible for, but I also believe that I am responsible for uplifting and encouraging other children also.
A couple of months ago a friend of mine asked me to help her on her campaign to become a member of our local school board. I eagerly said yes and joined her team. I saw this as another opportunity to strengthen the village. Our team was mostly made up of women who are in our 20’s and 30’s. Most of us had no campaign experience, and just a few of us had an interest in politics in general. However, what brought us together and what made us strong is our belief that our children deserved a leader on the school board who would stand up for the interest of each student in the district.
We worked for three months to make sure our candidate brought home a victory. On election day, we continued knocking on doors and encouraging people to vote. Others made calls and the rest of the team held signs at the polling sites. There was a lot of excitement and I was motivated and encouraged to see us working as a strong team.
After the votes were tallied, our candidate had the highest number of votes of the three candidates running for the seat, but since she did not get over 50% of the total votes, our team had to prepare for a runoff.
The voter turnout for this election was disappointing. This was a local election. An election that has the power to influence the future of the students in our community. An election that could potentially result in the weakening or strengthening of local schools. An election that matters for the entire community and every child in the school district. However, only 4% of the over 11,000 eligible voters voted in the general election and only 3% voted in the run-off election. I understand that this election is not a typical November election, but our children should matter every month of the year.
The candidate I assisted won the run-off election, but after the numbers were tallied, I had very mixed emotions. I was happy because someone who truly cares about children is the newest member of the local school board, but I was extremely disappointed about the voter turnout. As soon as I got home from the campaign celebration dinner, I asked my husband, “Do we REALLY care about children?” School boards are a part of the village, and school boards headed by competent leaders will make our schools and communities stronger.
I really hope the voter turnout in this election is not a determinate of how much adults care about children. I hope the voter turnout doesn’t mean that we don’t care about the future of our children. I hope the voter turnout doesn’t mean that the community doesn’t value education. I hope the voter turnout doesn’t mean that we accept the status quo. There is voice in a vote and the voice rings even louder during local elections.
I urge everyone to take an active interest in the lives of our children by both voting in local school board elections and holding school board members accountable for helping to strengthen the village. After all, the children are not only our future, but they are a part of our present.