What kind of community do we want to create?

I wrote this letter to the editor, with specific references to my town. Maybe it’s about your town, too.

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The 2016 election is upon us, but this is letter is not about specific candidates. It’s about the reasons to vote for those who are most committed to the community we want to create for our future.

I’ve lived in this county for five years. My first summer here was 2012, the year of the Taylor Bridge fire. I spent several hours that first night at the fairgrounds helping to settle horses transported there to be out of harm’s way. There were almost too many volunteers – many of them CWU students. The Red Cross office stayed open late, and donations eventually overwhelmed relief efforts.

Since then I’ve seen this community rally around members affected by other events, including the fire at the FISH food bank. During these times of duress, no one asks about political affiliation, religion, or ethnicity. We simply help.

Election Day 2016 brings the potential for equally devastating political disasters. We face a choice as clear as that of whether or not to help our neighbors: what kind of community do we want to create around us?

Much as I felt compelled to go to the fairgrounds late that August night in 2012, today I feel compelled to add my voice to those being raised in protest. Do we want to follow leaders who use fear to motivate our political choices, leaders who prioritize profits over people, growth over compassion, back-room deals over transparency and inclusion? Or do we want to follow leaders who tackle the difficult problems and tremendous opportunities of our future with a messy, optimistic mix of hope, compassion, honesty, and collaboration?

Our community is far better than the recent decisions made by those in power. Our nation is far better than the dark pictures drawn on the campaign trail.

We need to make all of our community members visible. Each is worthy of our respect and care, whether they are economically secure or insecure, whether they live in a mobile home park, a historic house in town, a farmhouse in our beautiful valley, an apartment near campus, or a dorm room. We know this when natural disasters strike. We need to remember it on Election Day.

Our job as citizens is to vote for the community we want to create: one in which every member is valued and given the opportunity to contribute. Please join me in remembering this when you mark your ballot.

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