Our elected representatives decide our future. We decide theirs.
Whether they’ll admit to it or not, the most important thing for almost everyone in elected office is to be returned to that office.
The only way for them to succeed is to end up with a majority of votes; and the smartest candidates focus their attention and resources on those most likely to vote.
For example, when I ran for City Council in 2005, I printed a list of everyone in the district who had voted in each of the last four elections. I knew that if they had consistently voted in the past, there was a good chance they were going to vote in this next election. I knocked on their doors; sent them postcards; called them to remind them to vote. And it worked; I won.
The conversations I’d have with those voters at their front doors shaped my city council agenda and helped determine my priorities. Conversely, those whose doors I didn’t knock on, because they didn’t vote, did not have as much of an impact.
I’m trying to make the point that when you vote, not only do you help select those who will represent you at the different levels of government; you also get them to pay attention to you, to your story, to the opportunities you see, to the problems you want them to solve.
This plays out at a larger level when you look at the voting patterns of entire communities. El Paso’s priorities don’t often figure into the campaigns of candidates for Governor or U.S. Senator or President, because we don’t vote in significant numbers, so there is little political reward for paying attention to us. They’re applying the same principle that I did running for my city council race: going to where the voters are.
However, we have a chance to change that this year. Recent polls suggest that for the first time in a generation Texas could turn “blue” by supporting a Democrat for President. And, since we are one hour behind the rest of the state (the only major city in Texas in the mountain time zone), on election night the national anchors might be breathlessly awaiting the returns from El Paso to see if we will in fact change the face of politics in our state for the next generation.
If that happens, you’ll see a lot more attention paid to this community.