• Gregory Z. Smith

Voting: why it matters most this year


"Pride" at the East Mesa Public Safety Complex

As a city councilor, it is often what is happening right in front of or near people's homes that I hear most about. The condition of the street and speeding, activities in the park, crimes in the neighborhood... The condition of the streets and speeding are the two issues my constituents choose most often to bring to my attention. Still, I am fortunate that I also hear compliments about what I am doing and how much that is good is going on in Las Cruces, and occasionally ideas for other projects or initiatives that can be undertaken.


Our next municipal elections come in 2019, and I believe there will be important choices to be made then. However, 2018, this year, is a critical one for ensuring people vote, and while there are no municipal items on the ballot, county and state and federal elections will have great impact on what we experience and can do locally. Sometimes critics remind me that other people are elected to deal with the issues at those other levels, and I have to remind them that what is decided at those other levels can have a direct impact on us here locally. As a citizen and as a local elected official, I have an obligation to speak up.


So, when bombs threaten the lives of people in other states, when worshipers are shot and killed in another city, when our president chooses to greet refugees trekking toward our part of the United States with troops, when children are separated from their families at our border, and when questions arise about voter suppression across our great country, I do consider local impacts. I also consider what we say locally in the face of issues that can have a national impact. These are things I consider very carefully.


Three pipe bombs were left at local churches three years ago. Two of them exploded and, fortunately, only damaged buildings, not people. Will someone now feel encouraged to do such a thing again?


Students at two high schools in District 2 and possibly others in our area were threatened with violent deaths this last February, after others their age died in Florida. So far, Las Cruces has been spared the tragedy of bullets killing students at school or congregants at houses of worship. Will someone with a firearm now feel encouraged to do such a thing here?


People from other countries come to Las Cruces, sometimes voluntarily seeking refuge or work, sometimes involuntarily to be tried at the Federal Courthouse here. How do we as a community address what drives them from their homes to seek asylum or new lives here?


Children can suffer from adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in the most loving and caring families. What happens to children when a government separates them from their parents and puts them in a camp, and how does that impact children in our hometown?


We are fortunate that the paper system used here backs up the digital voting system. So, actual votes have very little chance of being lost. However, the assault on elections and the active attempts to suppress voters in other jurisdictions is extremely troubling. How do we ensure that those elected in such jurisdictions have minimal impact on lives (including our own) in the larger scheme of things, and how do we continue to ensure that our local elections are fair and inclusive?


I have been sharing thoughts on these and other issues here, and I will continue to do so. However, there is an immediate action that all registered voters can do to have an impact.



VOTE





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© 2018 Greg Z. Smith