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One of the most consequential life decisions you can make is to VOTE. It will affect your home, employment, health and the environment in which you live. No one is gifted enough to determine your needs, your life order or your future without hearing your voice. We tell our children often to make good choices, find those positive friends, don’t let people take advantage of them. We tell them that it’s your highway and only you can determine which car you drive on it. Is it possible that we don’t take heed of our own messaging? Most of us realize that voting isn’t the most glorious thing in the world. It can leave a raw taste in your mouth when your candidate doesn’t win. Or if he or she wins and nothing significantly changes except you see them less, and their conversations now are identical to the incumbent that they managed to beat.

What a sad state you must think of our democratic system with its supposed checks and balances and laws that don’t seem to mirror your needs. And we get it! But what makes one’s vote essential are the children who are missing a highly skilled teacher in the classroom; the need to prevent yearly property tax increases; frequent potholes that kick your car out of alignment; the lack of education for those who throw trash on the ground because it’s more convenient than to drop it in a trash receptacle ten feet away; watching some elected officials who proudly cheer for their efforts and the money they bring back home from Annapolis which has little to do with your neighborhood; and the disbelief when one realizes the decrease in product and the increase of air in your potato chip bag. All of which affect your life in some way or another. This is what happens when voting becomes a “guess I will” and not “damn right.”

Dr. Martin Luther King stated, “I have come to see more and more that one of the most decisive steps that the people can take is that little walk to the voting booth. That is an important step. We have got to gain the ballot, and through that gain, we have political power.” Lives were lost so that we could have the right to vote. Not voting allows the candidate that you do not want in power to become an elected official.

As organizations that care about the body as well as the soul, we want you, your family, and your friends to exercise your constitutional rights. You may not be aware of how easy it is to take away or modify those rights that may benefit your family. I remind you of an old Southern grandmother’s saying, that what you start off with is what you end with. If you seek and demand very little, then little will be given. We are not organizations that promote any candidate; however, we can offer you a few questions to consider when you are looking to vote for an incumbent or candidate:

    • When was the last time your elected officials visited your neighborhood?

    • Have the candidates asked your opinion on what was best for your neighborhood?

    • When was the last time you received pertinent literature from your elected official that didn’t mirror a standard newsletter that could fit any neighborhood?

    • Are you recycling candidates with no real purpose?

    • Why vote for a new candidate who does not address the issues in your community?

    • Do you know your elected officials? Can you pick them out of a lineup?

    • If someone is offering you something that they could have done last year or the year before, it is a fantasy, not reality.

If the answers are no, not sure or maybe, then you need to educate yourself on candidates who will serve your needs and those of your community. It’s not a complicated choice. It’s just a privilege to have a choice.

All primary elections are significant in Maryland. Approximately 85% of all individuals who win the primary move on to win the general election. Don’t miss your chance to have your voice heard.

Josephine Mourning is president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Prince George’s County chapter. Linda Thornton Thomas is president of the NAACP’s Prince George’s County branch.

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