As a new year breaks and the sun rises on 2024, we are faced with the reality that, once again, an election year is upon us. Whether we’re ready or not, the next 10 months will be all about the upcoming elections. The presidential contest kicks off in Iowa on Jan. 15 with a Republican caucus and New Hampshire holds its primaries for both parties on Jan. 23. Just two weeks into the new year Americans will be casting votes for whom they want to represent them in the White House.
In the state of Washington, we don’t have a physical voting booth to step into when choosing which candidates we think are best. You may be at your kitchen table, sitting in a school pick-up line, or stealing a few minutes out of your work day to fill out your mail-in ballot. As you read through the Voters’ Guide and look over the ballot, how do you select candidates who deserve your vote? Do you vote on a straight party line? Does name recognition matter to you? Do you choose the candidate who ran the best campaign?
I haven’t missed a single election since my 18th birthday in 1995. Not a special, primary, or general election. Nearly 30 years of voting have taught me that if I want my vote to matter I must vote my values. I have to know what is most important to me and then select the candidate who is in closest alignment with those values. I know there isn’t a single candidate whom I will agree with 100% of the time, but I can always choose one who represents the things that are most important to me.
I have lived my entire life as a member of a proud union household. At different points in his life, my father was a member of the United Mine Workers Association, Teamsters, and National Education Association teachers’ union. My husband is a member of the Air Line Pilots Association. These labor unions have ensured job security, safe working conditions, competitive compensation, and comprehensive benefits, and have represented us well during collective bargaining. My family’s life is better because of these unions, and I will always choose the candidate who best supports workers’ rights. I want to vote for a candidate who protects collective bargaining rights, allows new unions to organize, and prioritizes working people.
I was raised by two public school teachers, I taught for nine years in the public school system, and my three children are currently enrolled in the Peninsula School District. Every time I get a chance to vote in any election I start by looking at the candidates’ records on public schools. I have benefited from a robust and well-funded public school system, and I want the same for my own children and our community. I choose candidates who prioritize equitable school funding, support a comprehensive curriculum that reflects actual history and social issues, and champion the work of our teachers and school staff members.
In 2024, the voters in Washington’s 6th congressional district will have the opportunity to choose a new representative in Washington, D.C. Representative Derek Kilmer has announced he will not seek reelection after serving in Congress since 2013. As I write this, four individuals have already announced their candidacies: State Sen. Emily Randall (D-26th), Commissioner of Public Lands Hillary Franz (D), Jefferson County Commissioner Kate Dean (D), and State Rep. Drew MacEwen (R-35th).
All four bring political experience and leadership to their candidacy. But which would be the best match to your values when you cast your vote in the August primary?
A good place to start is their campaign websites and social media accounts.
Randall emphasizes “focusing on aligning education with the local economy’s needs, advocating for affordable education, apprenticeship opportunities, and job training programs.” Franz prioritizes “protecting reproductive freedom and women’s rights, safeguarding our democracy, supporting our veterans and military families, and fighting the climate crisis bearing down on us.” MacEwen announced his intent to run stating “Inflation has taken a toll on families, infrastructure issues, education issues, and a growing threat to our national security.” Dean, who proudly raised her kids in public schools, told Peninsula Daily News she couldn’t imagine the race without a candidate from the Olympic Peninsula. “We’re outnumbered in terms of voters but our issues matter, rural issues matter.”
These four candidates all bring something different to the table and provide voters with a choice. How will you choose? I’ll be aligning my vote to the values I hold dearest and those that make the biggest difference for me and my family.
Meredith Browand is a mother and activist who lives in Purdy.
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