The Importance of Voting to Me

Let me start by being honest. There’s been seven Presidential Elections since I was old enough to vote. I’ve voted in two of them. In good conscience I can’t be telling people that its important for them to vote in this years election that I’m running for office in without explaining my own lack of voting in the past.

I grew up in New York and lived there most of my life. To be more specific, I was born in Queens and my family moved to the suburbs- a then small town of Washingtonville, when I was still a toddler. When I got old enough to vote, I didn’t bother because I felt that my vote wouldn’t matter. The state of New York has overwhelmingly voted in favor of Democrats for federal elections my whole adult life. Elections in New York have differences of millions of votes. I felt that my one vote wouldn’t make a difference either way.

As a lot of people do in their youth, I moved around quite a bit. Some of it pursuing my education, some of it for work, some of it because I was young and wanted a change of scenery. I’ve lived in the New York city area, upstate New York, Vermont, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and now finally Ranlo, NC. Due to never living in one town for more than a couple of years at most, I never took an interest in local politics. To me it didn’t matter because I probably wouldn’t be there in a year or two.

When I got married and settled down, I wanted to live in the area of New York I grew up in. When me and my wife looked for a house, we couldn’t find one that we could afford because of the New York property taxes. Simply put, in New York you pay two mortgage payments. One for the house and one for the property taxes. We ended up buying a house in Pennsylvania, just across the border from New York in a town called Dingmans Ferry where we could actually afford the property taxes.

Once we settled down in Pennsylvania, I became more interested in participating in our democracy. I finally felt like my vote could make a difference. Elections in Pennsylvania have the winner decided by thousands, not millions. I finally voted for the first time. The national elections had enough media coverage that I could make an informed vote. The state and local offices were more difficult. I took the time to research the candidates and look at their history and past votes to see how they voted on things that mattered to me and ended up splitting my ballot between the parties fairly evenly.

In 2017 we moved to Ranlo because the office I worked in New York was closed due to a corporate restructuring. I was fortunate that my job was eliminated but it was moved. I was assigned to the New York City office but given the option to transfer to several other offices instead. They included Austin, TX; Columbus; OH; Los Angeles, CA; or Charlotte, NC. If I had any desire to work in New York City, I would have done it years ago. After visiting and getting a feel for the various towns near my office, we found Ranlo and bought our house here.

Living here for the past 4 years, we’ve seen first hand how local politics can impact our families. There has been some bad choices made by some of our elected officials that impact my family and my neighbors who I count among my friends. My property taxes will be going up (thankfully not to New York levels) because of the lack of budget diligence by previous Commissioners. I worry about my car’s suspension every time I drive up Boulder Court because the lack of oversight by the town allowed it to be handed off by the developer, LGI, in substandard condition. If I complain about these and other things that negatively impact us without doing my part and voting for people who will stop it from happening again I have nobody to blame but myself.

Now that I’ve found a home where I intend to stay for the long term I’ve realized how lucky I am to have the opportunity to vote and participate in the democracy that makes our country the greatest in the world. I was wrong when I thought that my vote didn’t matter in the past. I now vote in all elections, regardless of what I believe the outcome will be.

I hope everyone in Ranlo that is eligible to vote does the same. If you don’t exercise your right and privilege to vote than you are a hypocrite when you complain about the choices made by the people who are voted in by those who did vote. If you have the time to offer an opinion on Facebook, then you have the time to vote on Election Day or fill out an absentee ballot and mail it in.

I ask of everyone in Ranlo not to make the mistakes of apathy I did when I was younger. Your vote matters. In all elections. Don’t give up your voice by not caring. Let it be heard by voting for the candidates you believe will best represent your values and interests. If that vote is for me, thank you. If that vote is for your opponent I also thank you. I believe all the candidates running for office want what’s best for the people of Ranlo. Even if I disagree with them on the best way to make Ranlo better now and in the future, we all win this election if more people care enough to vote.

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