by Chantelle Pierre
Community involvement is an example of collective impact and interdependence, meaning the seemingly small actions of individuals can make a significant change. A community that is informed and active is a powerful one. When individuals come together to plant trees in a neighborhood, the effect is substantial: the neighborhood’s look improves, as does air quality and, ultimately, the quality of life for its residents.
Like volunteerism, voting is another action that harnesses the power of individuals to improve their communities. We shape our community's quality of life indicators like school funding, safety, property taxes, crime by those we elect. We often focus on national elections, but we have the most stake in affecting local and regional elections to fill school board seats, judicial benches, city council seats, and the mayor’s position.
Here’s how we can maximize our civic powers to improve our communities:
You must know your districts to know which candidates you should be researching
Learn about the responsibilities within each elected position and evaluate the candidates’ experience accordingly.
Get to know the candidates. Research their backgrounds, visit their websites and follow them on social media.
Make sure that all folks in your community have registered to vote. Join a voter registration drive or start one, visit National Voter Registration Day.
Compile a list of questions you have for the candidates based on the essential issues.
Attend events in which the candidates will be present and use your list of questions as a guide to engaging them in dialogue.
Make sure that candidates are present in YOUR community. Invite them to neighborhood association meetings; host a “meet and greet” at your home or community center. How /, if they respond, can be a strong indicator.
Volunteer on a candidate’s campaign, on election day, or at the polls.
Be aware of early voting dates and poll locations. In Louisiana, the registrar of voters has a handy app with tons of info, GeauxVote.