Child ad­vo­cates of­fer vot­ers in­for­ma­tion on can­di­date po­si­tions in New Mex­ico

The Taos News - - FAVOR Y CONTRA - By James Jimenez and Dr. Brian Etheridge

Democ­racy is “a sys­tem of gov­ern­ment by the whole pop­u­la­tion.” By that def­i­ni­tion, ev­ery­one’s par­tic­i­pa­tion is needed to keep a democ­racy alive and well. No act of democ­racy is more foun­da­tional than vot­ing. Cast­ing a vote is more than ex­er­cis­ing your right as a cit­i­zen. It’s about ac­cept­ing the re­spon­si­bil­ity of cit­i­zen­ship. It’s about af­firm­ing that you are a part of some­thing larger than your­self.

In much the same way, elec­tions are about more than send­ing new or re­turn­ing lead­ers to our state and na­tion’s cap­i­tals to en­act laws and bud­get money. Elec­tions are also about what vi­sion we share for the fu­ture, what projects we choose to build to im­prove our qual­ity of life, what prob­lems we de­cide to work to­gether to solve.

Elec­tion is­sues are at the very heart of the val­ues that mat­ter most to us and our fam­i­lies: ed­u­cat­ing our chil­dren, im­prov­ing our com­mu­ni­ties, pro­tect­ing our rights, safety, and the world around us.Sadly, these is­sues get lost in elec­tion­eer­ing and par­ti­san­ship. Which party a can­di­date rep­re­sents of­ten seems more im­por­tant than what po­si­tion he or she takes on a key topic.

While the age of tech­nol­ogy has given us ac­cess to more in­for­ma­tion than we’ve ever had, it also of­fers mis­in­for­ma­tion, dis­cord, and static. Vot­ers who launch an in­ter­net search to ed­u­cate them­selves on the can­di­dates may find far more than they bar­gained for.

Be­cause voter ed­u­ca­tion is vi­tal for democ­racy to work, we at New Mex­ico Voices for Chil­dren and the New Mex­ico Pe­di­atric So­ci­ety teamed up to cre­ate a web­site where vot­ers can find the can­di­dates’ po­si­tions on a va­ri­ety of is­sues. We sent ques­tion­naires to all the can­di­dates for the state gu­ber­na­to­rial race, U.S. Se­nate, New Mex­ico’s three U.S. House seats, and the state Land Com­mis­sioner.

The ques­tions ranged from is­sues, such as child health and well-be­ing to the en­vi­ron­ment, im­mi­gra­tion, ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing, the econ­omy, the

2020 Cen­sus, and more. We also asked can­di­dates for a photo and a short bi­og­ra­phy. All of the ma­te­ri­als that were sub­mit­ted to us are posted on­line at YouDe­cideNM.org on a web­site that is easy to nav­i­gate and use.

As both or­ga­ni­za­tions are

501(c)(3) non­prof­its, we do not en­dorse can­di­dates for of­fice. This web­site is for ed­u­ca­tional pur­poses only.

We hope you will take ad­van­tage of this voter ed­u­ca­tion tool to help you be­come bet­ter in­formed about how the can­di­dates stand on is­sues of im­por­tance to you. Vot­ing is a learned be­hav­ior, and you’re more likely to vote if your par­ents voted.

So, if you have chil­dren, talk to them about the is­sues that are im­por­tant to you and take them when you go to the polls, so they can have a re­al­life les­son on democ­racy in ac­tion. They can see first­hand how it strength­ens the coun­try as a whole when peo­ple ac­tively par­tic­i­pate in the func­tion­ing of democ­racy. We both have a his­tory of tak­ing our chil­dren to the polls with us. An­swer­ing their some­times sur­pris­ingly in­sight­ful ques­tions has made us both more thought­ful and bet­ter-ed­u­cated vot­ers.

James Jimenez is ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of both NM Voices for Chil­dren and the NM Pe­di­atric So­ci­ety. Brian Etheridge, MD, FAAP, is pres­i­dent of the NM Pe­di­atric So­ci­ety and a pe­di­a­tri­cian prac­tic­ing in Sil­ver City. For more in­for­ma­tion, YouDe­cideNM.org

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