Updated: Mar 6, 2021
What do a stay-at-home mom and a politician have in common? More than you think.
I didn’t always think so. Up until about 5 years ago, the concept of voting seemed like something that was outside of my bandwidth. Then my kids’ elementary school exceeded capacity forcing my oldest child into a portable classroom with an unpredictable heat and air system, and my youngest to eat lunch in his homeroom. Then guess what…voting mattered to this Momma and I am here to tell you why it should matter to you.
First of all, voting is your voice, and in most cases the only voice that you, as a citizen of Knox County, will ever have in regards to the issues that affect you on a day to day basis. Schools, roads, parks, taxes, land use, conservation, programs and services….your local government and those officials elected to represent you controls it all, and sometimes not just at your financial expense through taxes, but at the expense of your quality of life.
After deciding to dedicate a great percentage of my time to community advocacy, I have learned that with one yay or nay by an elected official, my circumstance, and yours, can change instantly. And the real kicker is that a very small percentage of eligible Knox County voters are choosing these decision makers. With over 460,000 residents, around 1 out of 10 exercise their right to vote. Here is the state of our county, in 2018, 89 precincts throughout Knox County reported a dismal 81,195 votes in the general election and an even more discouraging turn out for the primary with only 49, 652 voters. So if you are not voting, I can assure you that those political action committees and industry specific groups, like the development and real estate communities, are and they should be, because they have a lot to lose or gain depending on their political influence.
When I began my journey all those years ago to bring a new middle school to my community, I had no idea the power held by the people that I had to convince nor did I realize the power that my voice and vote had on them. They needed me just as much as I needed them, and I quickly realized how this all worked, and why certain groups engaged in the political process and why I should to, and so should you.
I’m not asking you to spend dozens of hours reading over government meeting agendas and proposed land use applications like I do every week, but I am asking you to be informed, know your candidates and support an individual who shares your beliefs, understands your community’s needs, and has experience! I don’t mean volunteering at his or her kid’s school experience, although extremely important, I mean boots on the ground, deep in their community’s issues type of experience. Anyone can talk the talk, but an invested candidate will have spent a significant number of hours involved in programs or services in their community, attending public government meetings, and will have been engaged somehow in the process that they hope to become a part of. If they haven’t, then their political aspirations are just that and there are already too many of those types filling seats.
So, this election, use your voice and vote, and let’s send our elected officials the clear message that individual citizens do, indeed, have influence. Your vote can make all the difference. And spoken like a true politician, “trust me” on me that.
Kim Frazier, Knox County Resident since 1996