August 26, 2021
While national and state officials get vastly more media attention, what happens locally has great impact on our lives and our communities – and needs our attention.
Local elections matter. And, do you know what else matters? Making sure you take time to learn about the local candidates running in your community before you cast your ballot.
From mayors and city council members to township trustees, these elected leaders make decisions – many of which directly touch your day-to-day lives (e.g., trash pick-up, road repair, police and fire services, parks and recreation).
Today, I want to focus on local school board races. Members of your local board of education set educational priorities and policies, and make decisions that affect not only the youngest citizens in your community, but ensure the quality of the district keeps and attracts families and maintains property values. They are making decisions right now about how to safely return to school and keep kids in school to continue learning.
Over the past two weekends, Burges & Burges Strategists partnered with the Ohio Education Association (OEA) to lead School Board Candidate Training sessions that trained over 30 candidates across Ohio. We were delighted to be joined by Errin Siske, from Spark Space Creative, and five veteran school board members – Cathy Johnson, South-Western City; Mohamed Al-Hamdani, Dayton City; Sam Shim, Worthington; Dr. Tina Pierce, Columbus City; and Dan Heintz, Cleveland Heights – University Heights, who shared their candid campaign experiences and advice.
The sessions covered key elements of a campaign and reviewed essential tools and resources to run a successful race and share their message with voters. Running for any office – no matter the office – is hard, and we appreciate the commitment of candidates, especially in an area that can have such a big impact – K-12 public education. But, it is not only the job of the candidate to get their message to voters – it’s your job as a voter to educate yourself, too.
You soon will likely see yard signs sprout up around town, and candidate flyers and literature pieces will collect in your mailbox or door jamb. Before depositing these pieces in the recycling bin – flip them over, read through the bullet points (hopefully there are bullet points and not just lengthy paragraphs and resumes), and take enough time to understand the candidates’ values and position on areas that are important to you. It may take a little internet surfing or a phone call – but it will be worth the effort.
Identify candidates whom you support and consider how you can help beyond just voting for them on or before November 2. Can you make a donation? Can you talk with your neighbors or send an email to people you know? Can you host a postcard writing party? All campaigns take resources and volunteers to be successful.
Early voting will be underway before you know it (starting on October 5). So, before people start casting their ballots for these local races, we implore you to educate yourself about who is running in your community – because it matters. Your vote in local races can have a direct impact on your lives and communities.