Why it’s important to be involved

Sunday I volunteered at the Mile 21 Fluid Station for the New York City Marathon. Today, I’m crossing another finish line of sorts. It’s Election Day and I’ve been “training” since June; since two women I met last spring became candidates for borough council in my little northern New Jersey town.

I was moved by the last national election a year ago, as many were, to get back into politics. I had grown up in a political family, attending my first rally for a presidential candidate in 1968. I stayed involved through college, but as my political views evolved, I shied away from the confrontations and challenges often associated with politics. I found an outlet for my value of community service through employment in the non-profit sector.

The real motivator was when I attended a Mayor and Council meeting last winter to learn about an issue in town. Admittedly, it was a long time since I had attended a Mayor and Council meeting. I was astounded by the attitude displayed by my elected officials toward citizens questioning decisions and procedures. These elected officials had run mostly unopposed. We were a one-party town and it showed.

Right then I thought, things need to change and I need to part of that change. One important thing I learned from my parents is that you can’t wait around for other people to step up when things need to change – you need to be that change. Our council candidates told me that they thought, “if not me, who? If not now, when?”

I signed on to help manage the campaign because I felt the same way. I had seen how political campaigns where managed when I was a kid and in college. I had spent the last 20 years as a professional fundraiser. It was hard not to argue that I had some expertise that would benefit the campaign. How could I not use it now.

Running for office isn’t easy. If it were, more people would do it. Our candidates and team of volunteers have spent hours upon hours knocking on doors, making phone calls, canvassing the train stations, and talking to people at events. We have been rewarded with positive conversations with neighbors and new friends, but we have also been called bullies, and worse. No, it’s not easy putting yourself out there. It’s not easy questioning the status quo – especially when the status quo isn’t used to being challenged.

A couple weeks ago I wrote about what it takes to be an active community investor. Today, I am not asking you to take on the difficult challenges. I’m just asking you to vote. It’s easy. It takes just a few minutes. There are volunteers who can even provide you with a ride if you don’t have one. If you don’t know where to vote, click here.

Then on Saturday, re-read the post I wrote for Veterans Day last year and consider stepping up even more.

“Look to see what’s missing or needs to be fixed and be the answer. Stop waiting for someone else. And stop complaining about the results of other people’s volunteer service if you’re not serving yourself.” READ FULL POST…

I have said here numerous times how life is a series of choices. America was founded because of our fight for the right to have representation, and we should always have a choice of who those representatives are. No candidate from any party should ever be given the opportunity to run unopposed. If they do, we, as citizens, are not doing enough.

I voted already. I’m going to head out to do my speed workout (hills today) and then I’m going to be spending the rest of the day volunteering for Get Out The Vote efforts. So let me start with you, if you haven’t done so already, GO VOTE!

Get Out The Vote. Legislative District 39. Ramsey, New Jersey.

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