It’s been another election season this year and (some) people and citizens have voted for city council positions and state legislation and though local and state elections don’t get the same coverage as the national presidential campaigns, they’re undoubtedly more directly important to the day to day lives of the peoples of a city or town. This is increasingly true as few and fewer people go out to vote which inevitably results in each vote weighing significantly more than would be in greater numbers. An elementary but very powerful concept to take in when considering whether or not to vote.
It is good to say though that what was likely was in response to last year’s contentious presidential election, the numbers of the fall 2017 government elections did creep up noticeably, though still less than a quarter of all eligibles. This season saw the rise of several historical wins across the country, including the winning campaigns of Danica Roem in Virginia and Charlotte’s Vi Lyles whom both made achievements in the transgender and African American women communities respectively.
*Danica Roem received vast endorsements from names as large as Joe Biden and Milwaukee Executive Chris Abele, but it was the seemingly endless smaller contributions of the nameless thousands who donated mostly in increments of under $100 that really anticipated her victory. This exemplifies the purpose of the system designed to give power to the people and especially in the smaller elections, the importance of utilizing a national right not granted to several other countries of the world.
Vi Lyles whom had been involved in Charlotte politics both as a member of city council (2013) and mayor pro-tem (2015), defeated Kenny Smith for the title of Mayor in Charlotte, becoming the first African American woman mayor of the city and the first mayor to previously have served as a city administrator. In response to the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott that garnered national attention, Lyles has proposed and advocated a ‘7-pt Plan’ that revolves around increasing citizen involvement in local politics, bridging the divide between law enforcement and marginalized groups, and opening up more employment opportunities to peoples whose socioeconomic circumstances make it difficult to progress in the system, including increasing the minimum wage for government workers to $15/hr.
Though not quite getting the attention of the aforementioned wins, Dimple Ajmera was too elected in the At-Large position for city council becoming the first Asian-American woman to join the team and also the youngest. An Indian immigrant, Dimple had not even the command of the English language when she arrived to the states at the age of 16, but has since proven through herculean efforts and support, her ability to excel under any circumstance and is widely known for her untiring commitment to help the demographics of people in challenging positions such as homelessness, unaffordble housing, and uneven education. It was her own background and the instillation of these values from her parents that helped prepare Ajmera for running in this year’s election and now with a wider position of influence, the city of Charlotte is eager to see what she will bring to the table.
As implied there are several issues that members of city council need to address ranging from affordable housing, economic mobility, neighborhood safety, and transportation and infrastructure. Charlotte is one of the fastest growing cities in the country, over 800,000 people have moved to the Queen City in the last decade. That number is not insignificant, and represents a teetering opportunity that can sway in one way or another. Unlike other major cities such as New York or Philadelphia, the development of Charlotte being newer allows us to grow with a sensible consideration of housing and transportation that can surpass other major cities on the principle of prepared anticipation. A strong city council is necessary to ensure that this happens and for better or for worse, Atlanta, despite its positive increase in the entertainment, is a representation of a city that grew almost too fast for its own good in regards to traffic and housing issues.
Perhaps one must look at the Charlotte sky-line to see the contemporary potential of the hive that if matched, is a window to the possibilities that lie ahead. Having said that, a small group of people on city council and mayorhood can only do so much, and it is highly encouraged that individuals take their own stand and assist those in positions of political power by helping themselves. The progressive system has the ability to work wonders, but it is the individuals that ultimately make the city or town what it is.
*I understand the Danica’s achievements lie in VA, but her way to victory is representative of the importance of actively voting is something to share. Additionally, being a strong advocate for the rights and equality of any person regardless of how they identify themselves, I thought the win was too momentous not to share.