Take it from a former elected official - vote!


It was September 1977. “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac topped the music charts, and “Star Wars” was all the rage in movie theaters.

I was a 14-year-old high school freshman running for freshman class president. Why? Honestly, I wasn’t sure then and I am not sure now. My brother, a senior, was running for student body president and was popular. I was new to the school but was also pretty well liked by people – shocking, I know.

Honestly, I was talked into running. A friend of mine also ran and badly wanted to win. He actually campaigned. I don’t remember doing that. Of course, that was a long, long time ago, so maybe I did campaign.

I remember we gave speeches during lunch at the baseball field, which was, surprisingly, in the middle of campus. I don’t remember mine much, but I did have something prepared. I probably promised better tacos for lunch and to burn the face of our mascot, a criminal, into our rival’s field during homecoming. (Yes, we were the Yuma High School Criminals. Google it).

Well, I actually won. I’m sure I was happy, but I soon figured out that life as a politician – even a 14-year-old politician – wasn’t for me. I had to go to too many functions and do things like decorate the homecoming parade for our class.

I also lost the friendship of the guy I ran against. He was very bitter that he lost, and he ignored me the next four years. No big deal, I suppose. But winning an office was not worth that for me.

And yes, my brother won too. He was actually good at the job and loved doing it.

How did we win? We got more votes than the people running against us. It is really that simple. The reasons why didn’t matter – popularity, name recognition, promises made. Ultimately, the vote count mattered.

The reason for this long and possibly boring story? To remind everyone that next month we are electing a president. And yes, it is a very important office. This country is also electing congressmen and women, senators, people for statewide office and even folks to represent us locally.

And the same truth matters as much now as it did in Yuma, Ariz., in 1977 – your vote counts.

I have heard every excuse in the world for not voting. I am too busy. It doesn’t matter who wins. My vote doesn’t even count.

Well, you are wrong. Voting is now easier than ever, and that is a good thing. When I moved to Minnesota in 2003, I registered to vote on Election Day – something that we should be able to do nationwide.

People are voting right now. They are voting by mail and going to city offices and voting. I plan to walk to the church across the street and vote on Election Day, like I have in every election since we moved here five years ago.

It is easy and it is your duty. Yes, your duty.

I have rarely missed a chance to vote, even in a local election. I am not one of those who says if you don’t vote you can’t complain. Clearly, that is not true.

But if you don’t vote, your voice is simply not heard. You are not exercising a fundamental right of being an American. It is also a civic duty that we all must complete.

Please, vote now or vote on Tues, Nov. 3. I am saying this as a citizen and a former elected official. And for the record, the tacos were better my freshman year.