by Teresa Cowan, Central Park resident
As expats, we are used to not being able to vote in elections. After moving away from my hometown of Montreal in my early twenties, I have moved from place to place and not exercised my right to vote. When I lived in the UK, I didn’t have citizenship, so I couldn’t vote there. And until this year, I didn’t have an American citizenship, so I couldn’t vote here.
Still, if you know me or my husband, Tony, then you know we are politically involved. I’m pretty sure we have far too many opinions. We sometimes joke that we have to express our opinions more often because we haven’t been able to vote in the traditional sense of the word for so long.
We “vote” with our dollars every day, by thinking of the products we purchase and bring into our homes. We “vote” with our voices, by turning up at Town Hall meetings, City Council meetings, or PTSA meetings when we can. By a myriad of other small choices – what we read and share, what we post on our social media profiles – we have always felt politically active. We even hosted or attended fundraisers for politicians whenever we could – despite not being able to fill in a ballot.
Last June we started our citizenship journey, and although we weren’t able to vote in the federal elections, we got our citizenship in early 2017.
The first thing we did when we got home was register to vote. You can imagine our excitement when we received our ballots in the mail last month. We scoured through the information on the different candidates, went to hear candidates speak, and filled in our bubbles. Truth be told: I was so excited to put my ballot in the mailbox, that I may have forgotten to put a stamp on it.
When it comes to local elections, there are a number of issues that we hold especially close to our hearts. For example, who will be our next mayor? Like many of you, we care about education, the environment, and creating opportunities for our children to become thoughtful, engaged citizens. We know that Issaquah will keep growing…who can guide development that is vertical (as opposed to sprawling), affordable, and aesthetically pleasing?
Voting is a huge privilege. It does take a lot of time to keep up with local, state and federal issues and we all lead very busy lives. We can’t keep up on every issue, but like you, we certainly try to. We are proud to finally be able to tell our three children that we voted!
If you are considering becoming a citizen, we encourage you to do it.
If you are a young adult who is finally old enough to vote, we hope you will.