I fought hard for this Democratic presidential win, and I am still celebrating it but certainly will not miss the political turmoil of the past four years. I have always followed politics, and I always vote. I have liberal preferences, and I am a life-long Democrat. However, the partisan clashes that have dominated my waking hours have been draining. The anxiety over the state of my country and the fear for its future has taken the joy out of being an American. I want to be done with it. I want to be able to focus on Victoria and how to make life here better for all of us.
One of the most puzzling issue for many voters is why are local elections partisan. Why does it matter whether a county clerk, a district attorney or a justice of the peace in Victoria County runs as a Democrat or a Republican? The very act of having to designate a political party, ties the candidate to the noise and conflict of national politics. The job they are elected to do has next to nothing to do with who is president. They will have to adhere to national laws and local pressures no matter their designated party. Our challenge, at the local level, is to step away from national politics and animosity and make a good faith effort to ignore party labels and the biases they carry. Let’s look more closely at how our city and county have been faring while we have been out flying banners and riding our computers into partisan hell.
No one who runs for elected office in a city or county race does it thinking they might get to deal with a major disaster. Current elected officials were focused on fulfilling their job description when they were blindsided by a mysterious global pandemic. No one could be prepared for the task of explaining policy, science, and human nature on a daily basis. But it happened, and one thing is sure, when we choose candidates in the future, we will be judging them differently than in the past. We now know incredible unforeseen events can happen and the decisions made by our state and local leaders can deeply affect the well-being of each and every one of us. What we now know is that, whatever occurs, we want them to be ready to learn and ready to lead. We want them to identify more closely with our neighborhood issues, our personal situations, and our interests. We, as a community, have some deep fissures to repair. The low income, marginally housed, and food insecure part of our community bore, and still bears, an unfair share of the responsibility for keeping our local economy afloat. Clerks, servers, assistants, repairmen and caregivers did not have a meaningful choice to stay home and stay safe during the pandemic. They were expected to continue working under unusual and difficult circumstances not always shared by others in the community. In spite of being labeled essential, their incomes did not increase, nor were their jobs guaranteed.
When I hear people say they have no idea who their city councilperson or county commissioner or JP is, I wonder why that is. In the coming months, those people, along with other city and county employees, will be charged with addressing budgets devastated by the extra health care costs of this pandemic. These leaders will have to formulate ways for us to rebuild, reopen and reorganize agencies and services for the betterment of all Victoria residents. We cannot be ready for regional economic growth opportunities if our citizens, our work force, are taken for granted and left to manage as best they can during a time of unprecedented difficulties. If people can’t find housing, can’t pay their rent, have child care issues related to school accessibility, and face increased costs for basic household items, how can we expect them to bear the burden of helping us keep open our businesses, schools and entertainment venues?
Victorians need to put aside all the political rivalry and partisanship that exists at the national level and focus on ourselves for a while. We must surely be able to come together, no matter what our yard signs said. Now is the time to do some soul-searching about how we can each help this community stabilize and grow. We need candidates for future races, local races, that represent our diverse neighborhoods not the guy in Washington. Now is the time to identify future leaders and encourage them to start thinking about running for office so they can be prepared when the opportunity presents itself. We must insist that they meet with us, talk to us and understand the needs of the community they wish to represent. Now is the season of coming together over what Victoria thinks and what Victoria needs.