A secret note to those in Plumas County born between 1965-2000
Knock. Knock. Hi. I’m walking this precinct to remind you to vote this year. I’m hoping I can have you consider something else: running for office.
I know you’re busy. You have kids to raise and taxi to various locations for various functions. You have more jobs than a character on Northern Exposure. You wanted to live up here and escape the city, raise kids in a bucolic environment, and start a little business.
But you’re finding the job prospects aren’t good enough for your adult kids to return here, the schools not competitive with the coastal counties, the wages are less than livable, the business you were going to start is mired in moratorium, and you can’t afford the fees to fix up your property.
You don’t have time or energy for public comment at boards and commissions in the county that seat the same 30 retirees.
Where will you find the time to serve in public office?
They say if you want to get something done, you have to ask a busy person — so hear me out. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m asking you — my compatriots, my peers, my colleagues in all things to run for office — because as long as we let others make decisions for us we’re in trouble.
Now before you think I’m a complete ageist and out to get your golf-loving grandpa, hear me out.
I have nothing against your grandfather. He seems like a nice guy.
But I think you and I can both agree that perhaps he should be enjoying his retirement rather than making decisions on a board about the water we drink (he’s on his own well system) or the school system (since he hasn’t had a kid in school since the 1980s). Perhaps grandma is not the one who should be making decisions about the growth of the economy in a county she views as the perfect place to retire.
Our elders often base their decision-making processes of our county’s future on the presentations of others also in charge. They might even be basing decisions on myths and nostalgia.
Running for office isn’t so much about ability as it is about confidence and goals.
Historically, women sell themselves short. We wait until we are absolutely confident in our experience and abilities before running for office. Men wait only until the desire to run wafts passed their noses. WE know this. We’ve witnessed this.
I will never be a man in a suit. I am a woman who has birthed two children — both pregnancies complicated and life threatening. If I ever carry another pregnancy to term again I will die.
Which means whenever I see photographs of men in suits who can neither gestate fetuses or lactate to feed babies signing legislation about women’s bodies, I am infuriated. I am reminded that this is a flawed democracy and they are only representing themselves.
My fellow Generation Xers and Millennials, are you tired of the same handful of rubberstamps? Saying “no” to innovation and new ideas?
What would our county look like if more poor people were on boards? If people in recovery were on them? If former foster children were? If more hunters? If more ranchers? If more … cannabis enthusiasts were? If more scientists? If more Maidu? If a single African American were on a board here? If more atheists? If more college students? If more parents with school-aged children sat on school boards? If more people who swim in contaminated creeks were on water boards?
What would the perspectives be like?
What problems that we are mired in now could be solved? What things would we immediately get around to in this new Plumas democracy? What sort of industries would we bring in? Would our best students leave the county to go to other community colleges? Would more money be spent on tourism? What would the concept of sustainability look like then?
If all of us who’ve ever had our very existence legislated against ran and then won offices, what would things look like for our county? For our children? What if our priorities were given voice?
Imagine: A county willing to take a risk now and then on bringing new companies and industries to the county. A school system that served the needs of all the children so no charter was needed? Building permits would reflect the incomes of our citizens so they could fix and maintain their structures? Our water systems might be repaired and less wasteful. Perhaps we would understand how taxes work to cover our expenses. Our high school and college students could take college classes once again in their own communities rather than busing to the county seat. People of color might feel freer to just be. Ranchers could focus on ranching. And others? Well I suppose they could smoke ‘em if they got ‘em.
So please my fellow citizen born between the years of 1965 and 2000, don’t hesitate. Your grandparents do not have a monopoly on ideas or experience.
Many people running for office here run unopposed. Start opposing them. Some win by less than a 100 votes. March down to the courthouse, take out those papers and run for office. There are hundreds of us waiting to support you. We live in a Beautiful place. We cannot afford not to save it.
Happy May Day.