By: Jose Lara, Civic Engagement Fellow, Latino Community Foundation
Every election, I have the same conversation with friends and family about the importance of voting. But the same excuses always fly around, from “I do not have time to go vote,” and “politics doesn’t really interest me” to the common “my vote won’t really matter.”
It doesn’t have to be like that. Voting and being part of the political process should be a vital part of everyone’s life. We must ensure that all people, especially the Latino community in California, understands why voting is important.
In 2016, I had the opportunity to lead a local bond measure that aimed to improve the safety and accessibility of parks in my hometown: Hayward, CA. As campaign manager, my job was to ensure that Latinos in Hayward were educated on the benefits on why having access to parks were essential to the well-being of the community. Because of this work, and the countless volunteers who supported these efforts, the bond measure won with a 76% approval.
The results were outstanding. The Parks and Recreation District granted $250 million to upgrade the parks in Hayward. Over the last 2 years, this money has been used to make these parks safer and more accessible, with funds from this bond going towards “Mia’s Dream Park,” a park designed to be accessible and all-inclusive to all residents.
The lessons here are crystal clear.When you vote, you are making the difference. Voting gives you a voice to decide what you want for your community. It allows you to be involved and make a change. Whether it’s deciding who will represent you on your local school board or to build safer parks in the neighborhood in my case, every vote is a statement about who we are and what we believe in.
For me and for all of us, voting should be a personal act. What will move you to assert your voice and vote? As we all have that internal conversation this election, I encourage everyone to register to vote, become informed on what’s on the ballot, and to speak up on the issues you care about. It is important for our democracy and necessary for our community. It only takes a few minutes to register and vote, but the impacts can last a lifetime.
We’ll see you at the polls!