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A Guide to Voting

It’s a special time for many people this March. For the first time, a whole generation will be voting. I too, will be choosing who I want to represent me and my values in different seats of office. Even though I’m somewhat of a newbie, I want to share my ideas on how to properly choose the best candidate for you, whether it’s city council, the mayor, congress, governor or even the president. My method is meant to work for all of the above.

First, we have to pick what we want. What's important to you? Take a second and think about what you need changed in your daily life. Can someone in public office help you with that? Sometimes the answer is no; for example: your congressman Jimmy Gomez can't help you lose that extra 10 pounds you’re going for. If there is nothing you need changed in your life think a little bigger. What's a problem in your community? Do you see homeless people around just about every corner? How about piles of overflowing trash and harmful materials laying around in your public park? That’s more like it; these are things that people you vote for are often working to correct. Obviously it’s different for every city, town, community, and person. You are going to have different needs than Jim across the street or your cousin Terry who lives in Virginia.

You know your priorities. Now for the fun part, doing research! We now need to learn about the candidates, what they believe, what they want to do during their term, and their character. The best and worst part about elections is that politicians have to be a completely open book because every aspect of their life is now under a magnifying glass. It’s to our advantage because you can learn almost everything about these politicians, but it’s unfortunate because the information is everywhere, so it’s important to make sure it's not false. In fact, be skeptical about everything you hear during election time-- it might be just made up to make other candidates look bad. There are so many traps out there, especially on social media. You can’t just believe everything you hear.

Sometimes people in the elections you’re following wont be focused on all your issues, especially the higher the election goes: Bernie won’t focus on homelessness in LA as his biggest issue if he's elected. Remember though, we already thought about what's important to us. We know what issues in our town/community we want fixed. Clearly the issues facing our country as a whole are different than what’s bothering Eagle Rock citizens. So you're going to need to decide what policy you like and what you don't like. Thinking about a presidential candidate shouldn’t be that much harder, but it will require a little bit of extra work. This is work worth doing though if it means your voice is heard.

Ready for a surprise? People lie. Especially politicians. They will say whatever they can to get you to vote for them. When you hear someone like Andrew Yang say he wants to give you $1,000 dollars a month., think to yourself, can he realistically do that? Politicians are usually pretty smart. They'll figure out how to make their policy work so that you’ll vote for them. We’ve done a lot of research now and we know what they “want” to do, but can they actually achieve that?

What I am about to suggest next is definitely not as common as in the past, but take a look across the political aisle. What's perfect is if you are not polarized at all and see positives on both sides. We call them moderates, but I am aware the world is completely imperfect and unfortunately we have to completely disagree on everything. But take a listen to what the other side is saying. If you’re a Democrat, listen to a Republican debate. Hear what Donald Trump wants to do in his second term. You might find you agree with him and or some other candidates on that stage. Remember it’s a completely different ballpark. Depending on which party you are in line with, you’re going to hear two completely different conversations and different issues. This is a really important step though. In order to not become completely politically polarized in our society, we need to listen to the other argument.

After all the research and all the time that candidates have spent debating, we get to pick a front runner for ourselves. I say frontrunner because you shouldn’t put all your eggs on the Pete train until you’re absolutely sure and all the information is out on the table. People are going to keep debating and new information is going to keep coming out all the way until election day.

Now for the time we’ve all been waiting for. It doesn’t come often (and you might even hear a patriotic eagle crying as you step up to the poll to finally vote). We’ve paid attention for months, we’ve been vigilant, you know who the right person for you is. The absolutely most important step, is to get out there and vote, because every vote counts. Sometimes the election won’t go the way you wanted at all, but it’s so important to the way our democracy works. We vote so we can have people in office that represent what the people want. If you don’t vote your voice will not be heard.

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