Tag Archives: voting

Are you ready for the November 2012 Election?

By now, you have probably heard enough information about the November 2012 election to turn you blue in the face. I’ve heard some say they wish this election season was over and it’s only August!

However, this election season is crucial. Not only are we (re) electing the President of the United States, but there are important issues to decide upon locally as well.

What’s at stake?

In California, we have 10 new propositions including a re-evaluation of the 3 – strikes Law, getting rid of the Death Penalty, and deciding if we want to tax the wealthiest in order to help support education. We also need to elect new state legislators.. and decide whether or not a governing body can re-draw county boarders. This is not only important to Californian’s but the rest of the country, because what we do here is often modeled in other states.

In Alameda County, we need to vote for 2 Council members, an auditor and a treasurer.

In Oakland, we get to elect practically a whole new City Council – something that local policy nerds and a large portion of residents are really looking forward to. Districts 1 (North Oakland, Temescal, Rockridge), District 3 (West Oakland, Downtown Oakland and Adam’s Point), District 5 ( East Oakland like Fruitvale), District 7 ( Deeper East Oakland near San Leandro) and Oakland At-Large are up for grabs.  We also need to vote for a new City Attorney and School Board Directors for Districts 1, 3, 5, 7.

Phew!  A lot to decide about.

However you can’t decide on any of it unless you are registered to vote.

Why is it important to vote?

Some people feel that voting isn’t important and in the end your votes don’t count. It’s easy to feel that way, because often when you do take the time to vote, you may or may not get what you wish, causing you to walk away feeling that it was pointless. I would like to propose some reasons why voting is really important.

1. If you care about history and have any kind of reverence for your ancestors at all: you should vote. I’m not going to give you a history lesson behind voting and the trials and tribulations that people who have came before us (that includes males, females, races and ethnic groups of all kinds) to secure you the right to have a voice in how our society is run. Just know that people fought and died for your rights. Respect that.

2. If you care about social issues in your present life.. You should vote.  Do you care if your child gets an adequate education? Do you care if people can be sent to prison for life for being caught with marijuana 3 times? Do you care if your district is mainly Democratic or Republican? Are you concerned with the level of crime in the city of Oakland and whether or not you should be taxed yet again in order to supply the city with police protection? Want to make sure your vegetables are truly organic and come from local farms? If so, you should vote.

3. If you like to complain about things and want people to listen and take you seriously instead of rolling their eyes and telling you to be quiet, you should vote. Voting is the most official, and productive way to complain there is. REAL complainers vote..and if you have any pride in your complain game you should vote in every election there is.

Being a voter is great and the responsible thing to do. However, sometimes voting isn’t enough to create real change. Some cynical Sues and Sams out there already know this and remind folks about it every election season, so here is something else you might want to think about.

Why it is important to be an informed and informing voter, despite sketchy results..

Here is the thing. We live in a society where quite frankly, the majority rules. You might think that it’s money that rules and  money does have great potential to shape things, but imagine what a little bit of research and responsible decision making by the majority can accomplish? A lot.

Wealthy position holders can plaster tv and radio with ads sharing their opinions all day, but word of mouth can be just as powerful. A broad game of “Telephone” can sway an election like no other.

Some folks aren’t willing or have the time to do analysis of issues. That’s fine. But maybe you are. Maybe you will read your registrar packet. Maybe you will Google a measure that is confusing. Maybe you will do more than just listen to commercials you see or hear, but pay attention to who is paying for those commercials and what their agenda is. When you do so, tell a friend who can’t do that kind of research. Talk about it over coffee, while playing on your Wii, or jogging around the Lake.  Share what you have learned, be informed and be an informer. The more you talk about it, the more likely the listener is going to vote. Whether they agree with you or not! If everyone talks with just one other person about the issues..can you imagine how powerful that would be?

The more knowledgeable about your vote you are..the more democratic and fair the process is. Even if your vote doesn’t produce the results you are looking for, you will feel good about your decisions and you won’t be as frustrated about the process.  Also, if you do your part to educate your neighbor, you will know that decisions were made responsibly and not because an individual voter didn’t know which option to pick. People actually vote that way, and that’s a little scary if you think about it.

Plus, when you complain, folks will listen!

Who can vote?

The simplest answer is registered citizens. Things are rarely as simple as that, and there are currently real efforts to make sure some voters don’t make it to the polls. #sigh

In California, we don’t have such concentrated efforts,  YET, there are people who can register to vote but haven’t done so for some reason or another. Who are those people?

  • High School Seniors (aged 18)
  • College Freshman (aged 18)
  • People who have moved recently.
  • Recently married and changed your name? Re-register please!
  • Newly recognized citizens.
  • Released felons and parolees.. (say what? Served your time and parole is done? Peep this!)
  • Complainers who haven’t made it official. (shaking my head)

If you know someone who is in this situation, tap them on the shoulder and say “Hey? Have you registered to vote yet?” Get to it!

Send them to these websites. They don’t have computer access? You do..you are reading this blog right? Share it with them!

State Registrar: You can find information about state propositions, who is running for office and local rules and regulations about voting.

Voter Registration – Elections & Voter Information – California Secretary of State.

Alameda County Registrar: You can learn qualifications of voting, where your poling place is..and actually register online!

http://www.acgov.org/rov/registration.htm

Rock the Vote: help register young people and educate them about the importance of being heard this election cycle!

http://www.rockthevote.com/

GottaVote.org: Register to vote, get information on what you need to bring and sign up for important reminders.. (this is paid for by the Obama/Biden campaign btw).

http://gottavote.org/en/CA/

REGISTER TODAY: You have to have your registration post-marked by Oct. 22, 2012 to be eligible to vote in November!!

Check back here!

I am going to try to attend local candidate forums and write about the 10 CA propositions. So check back here for more details and share them with a friend! Let’s all do our part to make sure everyone is an informed voter this election season!

What’s your opinion? Why do you feel it’s important to vote? Any issues you are excited about? Got a crazy story? Share!

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Filed under Advocacy, City Council, Election 2012, Oakland, Politics

To vote or not to vote..the fallout from Lupe Fiasco’s words.

Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement

A couple of days ago I had a twitter conversation about why ‘voting’ is/is not important.  It stemmed from the statement that rapper Lupe Fiasco made about Obama being a terrorist.

[Lupe] followed up his comments about terrorism by explaining why he doesn’t vote, saying that casting a ballot for a politician for him is an endorsement of everything that person does. He won’t do that for any presidential candidates because “I don’t want you to bomb some village in the middle of nowhere,” he said.

Although, there are some points in Lupe’s opinions that I agree with (not a fan of war in general), I really wish that Lupe hadn’t talked about why he doesn’t vote. His words has consequences. There are young people who will listen to what he says and agree, feel validated and follow his example.

The Tweeter I had a conversation with declared that he agreed with Lupe, saying that voting only endorses the status quo (a system that doesn’t work) and we can’t change things until we change the system. The young tweeter (the word Young is in his handle so I assume he is young) went on to say that essentially this system is run by corporate entities. Politicians who have the most money are elected, who once elected end up doing whatever they want (ie committing terrorist acts).

That’s a pretty accurate assessment. So how do you tell someone they are wrong when their opinion is pretty much correct?

Everything the young man and Lupe are saying is pretty much true, yet seems so wrong to me. I’m almost hurt by it. Our ancestors faced horrible violence just so that we have the right to vote and participate in a system that has systematically oppressed us for so long. We now have the opportunity to make real change. To throw it all way by not participating makes me really sad.

The attitude behind not voting just declares defeat to me. “The man is going to do whatever he wants to do so why should I bother?” Imagine where we would be today if young blacks had that attitude in the 50 and 60’s.

Mind you, the Tweeter did say that not voting is only a gesture and not a complete solution, the solution is to bring down the system. So how do you do that? This system has been in place for long time and what do you do in the meantime?

In my opinion, not voting gets the system off the hook. I applaud Lupe for speaking out in such a public way because his voice is out there and people are listening. However, the opinion that counts is one that is taken at the voting booth. People will talk about him, the news will cover him, but at the end of the day a real difference won’t be made.

A lot of people don’t vote. The system keeps going anyway. The system only needs enough people to vote in order to get things done. If you want something done then you get enough people behind you and your candidate to put them in a position of power to make change. You can’t stop there, either. You have to hold that person accountable. You have to participate in the process. You have to keep writing, and protesting, and voting and organizing and supporting.

I think this is where we failed Obama and ourselves. We put him into office and just hoped for the best. We did nothing to support him in his efforts, so in the end he had to make compromises.. even some that he didn’t want to make. Now we are disappointed and complaining. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Lupe should keep going. He should sign petitions, he should start his own PAC. He should go to congress and speak at the committee hearings. He should get all of his followers to organize boycotts of companies. He should put his money where his mouth is. Money does make the world go round. If you put your money in the right direction, you can change the world. You can change the mind of a politician- even the President.

The President campaigned on the idea of change. Change requires work from all of us. I wish our people would understand that. The Tea Party did..and look at what they accomplished.

I asked the tweeter to take the time and go to a city council meeting. I would like for him to learn the process. To learn how he can participate and make the change that he would like to see. I hope that he does. He could be the one that could really end terrorism for good. 🙂

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City Council: how to participate.

In honor of MLK Day, I will repost this blog entry in the hopes that this encourages more local participation in city government.

2012 is an important election year not just for our nation, but for the city of Oakland. I’ve heard there are 5 council seats up for grabs in November, a burgeoning recall effort of the mayor..and who knows what else might be put on the ballot.

Take the time to read this post and learn how you can get involved.

Council chambers are packed during a Council meeting on pot. July, 2010. Read article by The Bay Citizen here: http://tinyurl.com/47meepa

Today we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr’s Birthday. A prominent leader of the civil rights movement, King led protests, marches, and made numerous speeches towards the advancement of African American people.

The culmination of his efforts led to the ending racial segregation and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Racial harmony hasn’t quite been achieved but now we are allowed to participate in the process of making things better. Unfortunately, a lot of people take this for granted.
I choose to do my part by learning as much as I can about what is going on in Oakland’s local politics and sharing it with the world!

Last week, I attended my first set of Oakland City Council meetings and boy was that an experience. Each session that I attended  deserve posts of their own.

Today, I would like to share how you can participate in city council meetings. Please note that all of this information can be found in detail on the Oakland City Council Website: http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Government/o/CityCouncil/index.htm

First, the Oakland City Council is the governing body that makes decisions for the city. They approve the city budget, adopt ordinances (laws) and each member represents the citizens who live in their district and elect them to office. Oakland has seven districts with one at large member. Look at a map which outlines all seven districts here! Basically, the City Council is Congress at the local level.

The priorities of the City of Oakland, as agreed upon by the City Council and the Mayor, include:

  • Increasing public safety by reducing crime and violence.
  • Fostering a sustainable and healthy environment by investing and encouraging the use of clean energy. They are also supposed to provide programs that support the mental, spiritual and physical health of it’s residents. Yay!
  • Increasing Economic development by developing and maintaining businesses that will attract people to the city.
  • Community involvement and empowerment
  • Help facilitate private and public partnerships
  • And to deliver government services with openness and efficiency.

The Council meets every 1st, 3rd and 5th Tuesday every month at City Hall. They meet pretty much all day, from 10:30 am – 7:30 pm. The meetings are broken into 7 different committees: Public Works, Finance and Management, Community and Economic Development, Life Enrichment, Education Partnership, Public Safety and Rules and Legislation. You can find the meeting schedule and download the agenda here.

According to rules and procedures, anyone is allowed to attend meetings and to comment on items found on the agenda. This is where we can participate in the process and make our voice heard. You can make suggestions on future ordinances, request funds for a city program, or share your opinion on a key vote that can affect your city or neighborhood.

You are allowed to speak on each agenda item. If you want to address a concern that is not on the agenda, you request to speak in Open Forum, which occurs at the 6 pm hour and lasts for 15 min. In order to speak on an agenda item and/or Open Forum, you have to submit a speaker’s card to the City Clerk beginning noon Friday before the meeting and until 6 pm the day of the meeting. You can download a speakers card and find more information by clicking here.

Given that the Council meets during a regular business day, it’s understandably difficult for those with jobs to come to a meeting. However, if there is a chance that you have a free day, going to a city council meeting is a great way to find out exactly what is happening at the local level and being a part of the process. You can also hold the people you vote into office accountable.

Because of the efforts of the Martin Luther King, Jr and those part of the Civil Rights Movement, every American citizen has the right to participate in the running of their government. Let’s not let those efforts go in vain. The simplest way to honor them is by voting. However, if you can take the time and learn about how Oakland is run and be a part of the process, you will not only do historical activists proud, you can potentially make Oakland a better place to live.

🙂

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Filed under City Council, Oakland, Politics