This opinion piece was written by District 11 Tompkins County legislator candidate Shawna Black. It was NOT written by The Ithaca Voice. … click here to submit community announcements directly to The Voice, or contact us at tips@ithacavoice.com. 

ITHACA, N.Y. — Despite my passionate canvassing for Bernie Sanders’ campaign, after his loss in the primary I supported and voted for Hillary Clinton in the general election.

Going to the voting booth November 11th I felt empowered. That evening I imagined seeing the first female President elected and sharing this momentous occasion with my children. That night I promised my kids that when they made the official announcement on the news that Hillary won I would wake them up and we would celebrate.

“After the election I felt powerless and defeated.”

Many people said it, and I have to admit, I felt similar. But we’re almost 10 months past the election and there are some strong signs that the paralysis many of us felt in the beginning has grown into resistance, resilience, and fight.

We now realize that being politically active isn’t just an intriguing option—it’s a civil duty with real-life consequences, good and bad. At the very least, we need to exercise our right to voice concerns to our Representatives.

Here’s my story, in a nutshell.

When I rose up from my post-election disappointment, I echoed the sentiment that Progressive leaders, journalists and citizens expressed: We need to engage and act locally. To me that means electing Progressive leaders locally and regionally.

As a candidate for County Legislator in District 11, I’ve prioritized crossing party lines to talk with and really listen to Republicans and Independents in my area—I highly recommend that everyone do the same. We have so much in common, like our desire for safe neighborhoods, good schools and housing that’s affordable and accessible.

I also implore you—please follow the local races that are happening in our area. Legislative Districts 3 and 4 will have Democratic Primaries. Become informed on who is running and what they stand for. Ask questions via email, webpages, and phone. Any of the candidates would be happy to connect with you to discuss the upcoming issues either in the city, town, or county—just ask.

On the county level the Legislature will be working on important issues that relate to housing, living wages, the local jail, budget and taxes. These are important issues that affect everyone. Raise your voice, attend the meetings. The first portion of the meetings allow for public comment. If you’re unhappy or have concerns you can speak directly with your legislator via email or phone or you can attend a Legislative meeting.

This is OUR government. Our elected officials are our voice and they need to hear from us. If you live in an area with a Primary Election (District 3 and 4) the date for voting is Tuesday, September 12th. The General Election for all areas is Tuesday, November 7th .

You can go here to find out what Legislative District you are in and where your voting location is here.

See you at the polls!

Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.