Susan B. Anthony was quoted as saying “Women, we might as well be dogs baying the moon as petitioners without the right to vote!” From the time of Susan B. Anthony the face of women in politics has changed greatly, however one must ask if that change has been great enough. Today, almost 95 years since the suffrage of women, there are 99 women serving in Congress. That is 18.5% of the 535 seats. Women hold 22.6% of the statewide elective executive offices across the country, and 24.2% of state legislators are women. Of the 100 largest cities in the U.S. 13 have women mayors. These include four here in Texas: Annise Parker in Houston, Betsy Price in Fort Worth, Nelda Martinez in Corpus Christi, and Beth Van Duyne in Irving. *
How women can influence political change is not just in being elected to political office, but primarily by exercising the right to vote. In March the primary election was held for county, state and federal candidates. Thirty-one of the county and state offices up for election during the primary were decided by that vote alone, because there is no candidate from the opposing party to get votes in general election in November.
Some of the candidates from the primary election are going into a runoff. This is required because a candidate in a primary must win a clear majority, more than 50%, of the votes cast. There are 9 republican candidates and 3 democratic candidates in the runoff. The runoff election will be held May 27th, and as long as you are registered to vote, you can vote in the runoff even if you did not vote in the primary election in March.
May 10th is another important election, City Election for Fort Worth and many other surrounding cities in Texas. This year many cities are voting on bond programs. These bond program propositions directly impact city infrastructure and services. Propositions often include street and transportation improvements, parks, recreation, and community center improvements, library system improvements, fire safety improvements, municipal court improvement, municipal service facility improvements, and animal care and control facility improvements. In Fort Worth, the propositions request a total amount of $292,075,000 of bonds to be paid back with tax dollars. I believe the bond program speaks directly to why it is important to vote in local elections, which often have the lowest voter turn out. Your votes decide whether the city will take on the debt incurred in the bonds and therefore if the improvements included in the bond program are made. The people you help elect to city office and your involvement in city meetings directly impacts the plans for improvements included in the bond program.
Your local government is involved in your every day life. If you have one more street light to go through on your daily commute, if the stray animals are cared for, if the grass is mowed at the park so the kids have a safe place to play are all jobs performed by local government. Furthermore, it is your local government you call when your trash in not collected and most importantly they are responsible for protecting you from fire and crime. When you vote you are helping to shape everything from use of our water, all levels of judges in both civil and criminal courts, and the laws we live by.
For more information regarding elections in your area you can go to the Texas Secretary of State’s website at www.sos.state.tx.us/elections. Your local county and city clerks contact information can be found there, as well as state wide election information include ballots and dates. In Fort Worth, go to fortworthtexas.gov/elections for more information on the bond program, including specific improvements proposed. The Tarrant County website, at tarrantcounty.com/evote, has information on both the primary runoff and city elections such as voting poll locations, date and time of early voting, and sample ballots.
In closing, I would like to propose that Susan B. Anthony would agree with the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. “Voting is the foundation stone for political action.” With that in mind I hope you all get informed and take part in the electoral process that shapes our country.
* The information in this paragraph was provided by the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University for the previous information. http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/education_training/index.php
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