WELCOME TO A VOTER GUIDE BY AND FOR SMALL TOWN VOTERS
Most of us share common dreams with our neighbors. We want decent jobs that allow us to put food on the table and to take the occasional vacation. We want to know that our schools are working hard to educate our children. We want services we can depend on in natural emergencies. We recognize that people may need help to weather economic storms. We want our families to be able to live safely and without fear. These are shared values.
We do not always agree on how to build and maintain these safe and functional communities. That’s okay. The idea of democracy is that we get to debate options and make our voices heard. Through elections, we can tell our political leaders what our priorities are and create laws that build a more sensible society. Democracy should mean that We The People own the government. It is our duty to participate in elections so that everyone can lend a hand in decision-making instead of giving offices to the highest bidders.
This year all of our State and Federal Representatives are up for election. Many of our State Senators and one US Senator are also on the ballot. We will choose a Governor. Like any employer, we need to do a serious job review! In addition, seven ballot measures will be voted on. Some of these will change the face of the state. Which measures are useful reforms and which ones represent narrow special interests and fuel discrimination and hate?
Slick political ads clutter our mailboxes. This simple guide is different. It is paid for, produced by, and written for regular folks in small town Oregon. There is probably not a county in the state that has not contributed to this guide through a local community group. And we didn’t all agree on everything! What we do share is a commitment to inclusive democracy and recommendations on making the best choices for small town and rural Oregon at the ballot this year. We hope it helps.
Every election cycle opens up conversations about frustrations and yearnings, but this election seems more important than most. A humanitarian crisis at the border, a broken immigration system, a looming energy crisis, and economic hardship for many rural families add urgency to the many local decisions of this election. Let’s start talking about the communities we want and make this election move the country and Oregon forward.
Some people complain of a feeling of helplessness that one person or one vote can’t change things. Individuals like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning have shown that it is possible for one person to make a difference. Not everyone has to do what they did, but casting a vote is one way that we can have an impact. Sometimes critical elections can be decided by just a handful of votes, especially in small town communities. Imagine the impact if all the voters who feel helpless came together and got engaged.
Let’s do more than hope for change. Let’s start making it now.