From the Desk of the President: Why Your Vote Matters
As many of you know, Columbia’s origin story is one of purpose. Through the master planning efforts of Jim Rouse, this place was built to be a new kind of community, one that was inclusive at a time before discrimination was made illegal. We received national attention for the progressive moves made to shape and guide community here. Building community takes purposeful engagement. It can be easy to underestimate how much effort it takes to keep a sense of community alive.
There is so much going on in the world, particularly when it comes to the ongoing fight for freedom, justice and representation. War rages in Ukraine, state legislatures are changing laws that limit citizens’ rights and the Supreme Court confirmation process is putting the polarizing condition of our nation on full display. I’ve spoken to many Columbia residents who feel strongly about these issues and are finding ways to engage and support causes they believe in.
Yet, many of these same people are unaware of or choose not to participate in their Columbia village election process. A number don’t know what village they reside in, what decisions are made at the village board level and how Columbia Association and its Board of Directors ties into all of that. I see the Columbia village elections as a straight-forward demonstration of an old adage: think globally, act locally. In our case, we are challenged to think globally, act hyper-locally.
I have now served as the President/CEO of Columbia Association (CA) for nearly a year. In that time, I’ve had well over 100 meetings with a variety of community stakeholders. I’ve listened to a wide range of viewpoints on what CA does well, where our organization falls short and what we should be doing better. There have been countless times when perspectives on important changes fall in the scope of county government, village community associations or private developers, not CA. I’ve also heard some excellent suggestions that are within the scope and responsibility of CA. Some ideas can be executed by staff. Others require Board action. I share these experiences because many of these perspectives are insightful, helpful and have the potential for positive impact. There are ways that energy, attention and creativity can result in real, meaningful change.
It is for these reasons that I urge everyone to engage and take action in our shared corner of the world. Some villages do not have enough candidates to fill all seats of their village board. Some villages do not always have contested elections. In many cases, representation is often decided by just a handful of votes. So I am asking that every resident that is eligible to vote take the action to cast the vote. Most villages provide some kind of candidate forum or profile that is accessible to all. If your village still has open seats, carefully consider volunteering to serve – for your family, your neighbors, and our shared future of this special community.
Several times, I’ve been asked about my view on the key qualities of a CA Board member. My answer is the same as it would be for most leadership positions today. An ideal candidate is willing to make difficult decisions for the right reasons. Candidates should be focused on ensuring CA is preparing and positioning for the future and ensuring more voices are heard from across Columbia.
To be an inclusive community means we must speak up and speak out for one another. We must engage in the processes we currently have for representation. We must serve. We must vote. We must show up. We must discuss. We must learn. We must listen. We must engage. Perhaps we engage to adapt, change or improve our processes. Perhaps we engage to preserve important components that define our community. Perhaps we engage to create something new and innovative. These are all actions that demonstrate CA values, especially at times when we are in need of connection and unity.
Voting is one of the key opportunities – and frankly, privileges in comparison to many across the world – you have to shape the future of our community. I am asking you, as residents, to commit to being engaged here in Columbia any way you can. I commit that CA will keep finding more and better ways to engage with you.
Click here to learn more about your village’s election at ColumbiaAssociation.org/vote or contact your village for more information.