By Andrea Guerrero
A couple of weeks ago my nine-year-old son and I got into a friendly argument about who should be the next mayor of San Diego. He seemed to get the same thrill out of talking about his favorite candidate as he gets out of talking about his favorite superhero. If you have a child, you may have been asked a thousand (or maybe a million) times what your favorite this or that is and then been told why it should be something else.
In our conversation, my son reminded me that he could not vote, but that I could and should vote (for his favorite candidate, of course). It made me think of others who cannot vote, like friends and family whose immigration status prevents them from voting, and why I can and must vote in every election for the candidate or the ballot measure that will move my family and my community forward.
If we who identify as Latino or Latina all voted we could help determine the future of our city, state, and nation. We are an increasingly significant part of the electorate. In the City of San Diego, roughly 120,000 of the registered voters (18 percent) are Latinos/as. That’s more than enough to be the margin of victory or defeat in an election, which can turn on a few thousand votes. It’s enough to drive policy decisions that benefit our families and all families in San Diego.
But we have to vote, and we have to vote in every election. The numbers of registered Latino/a voters are meaningless if we don’t vote. In the last election, only 65 percent of us who are registered to vote in the City of San Diego actually voted, representing the lowest turnout rate among ethnic communities. That means that while roughly 78,000 of us went to the polls, another 42,000 stayed home.
Imagine if we all picked our favorite mayoral candidate, just like we pick our favorite song and our favorite food and just like my son picks his favorite superheroes. What if we all thought about who would be the best mayor for our families and for this city, and we voted for that person on Tuesday, November 19th. In an election that will most certainly be close, your vote would, without a doubt, make a difference.
Now we might not all agree on which candidate is our favorite (just like my son and me) and it’s not my role to tell you who you should vote for (that’s up to you and your family), but it’s essential that you vote. If those of us who can vote go to the polls on November 19th, then regardless of who wins, the new mayor of San Diego will need to take into consideration the needs, interests, and concerns expressed by the Latino/a community.
My nine-year-old son can’t vote, but I can. And some of our family members and friends can’t vote, but you can. So it’s time to pick your favorite candidate (and your favorite superhero, if you haven’t already) and cast your vote on or before Tuesday, November 19th.
Andrea Guerrero is Executive Director of Alliance San Diego, www.alliancesd.org