On the morning of November 7, the headline I want to see is: Record Turnout in Elections.
Every election season, when I’m up to “here” with political advertising, I try to remember what a precious commodity Americans share: the right to vote. It reminds me of a quotation from Franklin Roosevelt, who profoundly answered the exchange we all hear too often: Why should I vote? My vote doesn’t count anyway.
To answer that, he said, “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves, and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”
It rankles me to hear people, who I otherwise respect, quickly dismiss with the argument that their vote doesn’t count. But I quickly go from rankled to angry when I hear them complain about laws and regulations and the people who serve as elected officials. I’m appalled when I read that turnouts in Marin and Sonoma counties are at nearly all-time lows.
Fixing the situation isn’t something that takes anything more than effort. All you have to do is vote, by mail or in person. By doing so, you take an active role in how your community is governed and by whom; by abstaining from the process, you guarantee you have no say.
The voter turnout for the June primary shocked me. What was particularly troubling was that this was the first time in the state the top two vote getters would advance to the November election, removing the party affiliation as a factor. And what were the results? In San Francisco, the turnout was 25 percent; in Marin County, it was 35.4 percent; and in Sonoma County, it was 37 percent.
I can’t think of any action as easy as voting that carries with it as much importance. To not exercise that right, something that millions of people around the world are still fighting to attain, is a disservice to yourself, your family and your community.
This being a Presidential election year, voting is more important than usual. There are also numerous other political races in our region that will determine the makeup of our state legislature and the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.
I stand in awe of the candidates who put themselves through very public scrutiny to present their views on vital issues, then let the rest of us offer a thumbs up or thumbs down. I’m the chairman and CEO of a successful financial services enterprise and answer to a board of directors, clients, regulators and employees. But all of that pales in significance to the near violation of privacy candidates must endure and what I’m sure is a very introspective time on Election Day.
We owe it to ourselves to be active in the process that determines who governs and makes the laws. For the past several years, I’ve taken the opportunity to meet with legislators and regulators in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., because I want those folks to recognize the value of my enterprise to our local economies and communities. While I can’t speak for others in my industry, I’m surprised when I look around and see few bankers from our region reaching out by being “in the room.”(And it’s usually the same ones showing up—thank you.) I’ve always found it important and effective to make my views known in person. By not participating, my colleagues miss the opportunity to get an enlightening look at how the legislative process works and how they can participate in it.
In a way, they’re similar to those who don’t vote: By not participating, they’re depriving themselves of the ability to make their positions known.
Yes, I willingly trade having to put up with what seems to be mindless political advertising for having the right to vote. I hope you agree.
Kim Kaselionis is chairman/CEO of Circle Bank. Under her leadership, Circle Bank has recorded 53 consecutive profitable quarters. In 2010 and 2011, the bank was named a “super premier performer” by The Findley Report. In 2012, Kim was named one of the “Most Influential Women in Northern California” by the San Francisco Business Times. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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