Elections are an enormously energizing, exciting moment when you live in a country that so passionately embraces the ideas and values of democracy.
It takes an enormous amount of courage to run for elected office – any kind of elected office – whether it be for a position on a local school board or for a seat in the state legislature.
It’s much easier to not run, to not put yourself out there. But to make your passions visible, and to commit your own time, energy and, sometimes, money to act on them, well, that takes gumption. And democratic nations like America rely on there being enough of these courageous, hopeful people, willing to stand up and give it a shot.
So, to everyone who ran for elected office this campaign season, win or lose, thank you. (And don’t forget to collect all those yard signs, please.)
The Hub has a favorite saying that we offer to the communities we work in, big and small, to help them understand the key ingredient to making positive change: “The world is run by those who show up.”
Whether it be at a community meeting room at 6 p.m. on a wintery Tuesday evening, or at the polling booth on election day, it is those people that show up and raise their hand that give themselves the chance to be heard.
If you aren’t at that meeting, it doesn’t matter if you have the best ideas in the world.
Our democracy works the same way. The world is run by those who run (for office, that is.)
The great news is that there are so many positions in your community and your state that need willing and passionate citizens to fill them.
And you don’t have to wait every four years! I can almost guarantee you there is an open seat somewhere in your community – an elected office serving the public that is just waiting for a terrific citizen like you to step up.
And these are roles that make real decisions, real change, local change.
School board members, county commissioners, parks and recreation commissioners, city councilors, state delegates and representatives… these are just some of the elected positions that are filled by everyday West Virginians just like you.
Moms, dads, teachers, retirees, unemployed people, students, executives, factory workers… you get the picture. Just people. People who one day decided that they wanted to have some control over the decisions that affect their day to day lives.
West Virginia needs more people willing to stand up. Many elected offices go uncontested each year. And, to use our state legislature as an example, not all West Virginians are represented equally in these positions of power. Just 15 percent of seats in the state legislature are held by women (who make up 51 percent of the population), and less than 3 percent by people of color (who make up more than 6 percent.)
In celebration or in protest, to fight for great ideas, to take control of your little slice of the world, to be responsible, to steer the ship, to help create a better world for the people you love, to act upon the very principles that created America in the first place; running for office is one of the most powerful statements of citizenship that any West Virginian can make.
And we are grateful for those that do.