I have labored for a week over writing an inspirational blog post...
...to get out the vote next week for our local elections in DFW.
Right about now you are probably asking yourself, “We have elections next week? For what?” My informal straw poll would say it is not something any of us are thinking about. Not one person has brought up the May 6th elections to me in the last month. Not one! And it is my job to be around the people who care about this stuff.
There is no rallying cry of a specific issue or candidate like there usually is in national elections. There probably is not a lot of office buzz this week about who the next City Councilmen or school district trustees are going to be. So it is understandable that local politics is not top of mind for most of us.
But it should be. As Christians, we have a duty to care for our city by seeking its peace and prosperity. And one of those ways is by appointing righteous leaders. As Americans, most of us take the right to vote for granted. (In the 2015 Dallas elections, there was less than 7% turnout. It is expected to be even less this time because there is no mayoral race.)
But voting is a duty whether you live in Dallas, Fort Worth, or any of the suburbs all over our city.
I'm a resident of the city of Dallas. And so I know that even in this "smaller" election, my fellow citizens and I have a unique opportunity to influence the future of our city. The Police and Fire Pension controversy is going to cost us in some way, through increased taxes and/or decreased protection. Two of our biggest city assets, Trinity River and Fair Park, seem to be underutilized - and there are many options on the table. There are also tensions around developing in the Southern Sector, the City Center, or the Northern sector.
Wherever you live, though, your town probably faces options - about people and programs - next week. Maybe they won't all be featured on the nightly news, but that doesn't mean they don't matter. Ideas have consequences to the future of your city! And your vote allows you an opportunity to influence those ideas.
Being engaged in our city doesn’t seem like an option to me as a follower of Jesus, and one of the ways we get to do that is by voting. So I want to challenge us to get out the vote.
Step 1: Commit to Voting
May 6: Mark your calendar right now! (Or better yet, do early voting.) When I say "commit," I don't just mean theoretically. Name a time and a place right now. (You can easily find polling places with an internet search.)
May 6: Mark your calendar right now. (Or better yet, do early voting.)
Step 2: Get Informed
You want to make an informed decision. So find out the issues and candidates from your city (for example, Dallas offers a sample ballot here). The hardest part with local elections is getting transparent information on what is really going on with issues. The Dallas Morning News Editorial Board tries to keep up with everything - including in some suburbs - and your local paper or online news outlet may help. Look on your neighborhood's Facebook Group or Next Door group - someone's bound to be talking about it. Even ask around to your neighbors (which is a great way to connect with your neighbors, too).
Step 3: Seek Wisdom
Plato said, "If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools."
The closest biblical example for a framework when deciding leaders comes from Deuteronomy 17:14-20. And check out this article for some helpful guidelines on choosing a leader. In addition to the character question, I would also ask yourself, “Who is going to contribute most to the flourishing of our community?” Finally, ask God for wisdom on who to vote for.
Step 4: Follow Through
Ask your community group or your neighbor to hold you accountable to vote. Use it as an opportunity to engage in conversation about why you vote the way you do, and see if that spurs on good conversation about how you can best serve the public!
One Way God Works
It is easy to get overwhelmed by all of this and think that politics is the answer to the future of our city. We know that is not true; we place our hope in God. But one of the ways God is working is allowing us seek the welfare of our city through appointing righteous leaders.
Wherever you live, don’t be like the 93% of Dallasites who missed out on making the most of this opportunity! Commit to voting and get educated.
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Photo Credit: pdugmore2001 Flickr via Compfightcc