Monday, November 3, 2008

A Girl's Guide to Voting (As Long as that Girl is Me)

Since it's the day before the election, I've decided to compile a handy voter guide for people who a) live in Precinct 13, Ward 3 and/or b) people who have the exact same political views as I do. I realize how helpful this will be for all, so I'd like to graciously thank you in advance. ;)

I looked up my sample ballot at the Star Tribune, which has an awesome site telling you where your polling place is and everyone who's on the ballot. Just make sure you don't put the name of your street in the "House #" box because it took me three attempts to figure that out.

Anyways, I thought I'd go through each contested race and explain why I'm voting for who I'm voting for, half for your benefit, half so I can decide exactly why I'm going the way I am. I'll start with the bottom of the ballot and make you wait until the end for the biggies. Otherwise, how do I keep your interest piqued?

Soil and Water Supervisor, Seat 3

Do people really know about these candidates? It's kind of surprising that there are three challengers to the incumbent for this seat, considering I don't really know what this person does (I mean, they supervise soil and water, I get it). However, when you go to that Strib site, you can click on all the candidates to get a little bio, which rules. In doing so, I realized that the incumbent, although a woman, is not who I will be voting for. Anyone who lists "fiscal conservativism" as their most important issue is going to have a hard time getting my vote. So instead, I'm voting for Mara Magnuson Humphrey. She's endorsed by the DFL, plus her most important issue is the protection of natural resources, so she's the one for me.

Soil and Water Supervisor, Seat 2

Again, who gets to be soil and water supervisor isn't exactly my most important issue this campaign, but I believe in the system so I believe that these seats are important to making sure Ramsey County (and thus, Minnesota) maintains the right view on natural resources. This race was a bit harder to choose on its face, as there are no women running, but I'm voting for David Bogue. He has a degree in Environmental studies, and he lists some great issues (including decreasing runoff of surface contaminants and improving groundwater) as important. Plus, the other guy with a profile, Nick Quade, was a state delegate for Ron Paul, which is an automatic disqualification for all votes cast by me.

2nd District Court, Seat 21

This race is a really difficult choice for me because both candidates are great. It's between Gail Chang Bohr and Howard Orenstein, and I'm voting for Gail Chang Bohr. If I'm being honest, her gender is probably what pushed me over the edge, but I don't usually like to use that as a sole determining factor. She is the Executive Director of Children's Law Center of Minnesota, and used to be a social worker, so in my house that's a enough to get my vote. However, Orenstein got pretty much all the DFL bigwig endorsements, which is also a good thing in my book, so read their profiles and decide for yourself what's most important.

Minnesota House, District 64B

This is an easy one, as I've met both candidates. I'm voting for Rep. Michael Paymar because he's genuinely cares about Minnesota and the district, and has proven that fact by his years of service in the Minnesota House. Plus, Emory Dively was really rude to me personally during my days at St. Kate's. I realize that my district is distinctly democratic, so the candidate knows they have little chance of winning, but he treated me as though my (and a group of other college students I was with) vote didn't matter to him, and that was a major turnoff. Rep. Paymar is a nice guy with great experience and a genuine interest in the lives of his constituents and I'm excited to get to vote for him.

United States House of Representatives, District 4

The choices get easier and easier for me as we move up the ballot, but this one is kind of ridiculously easy. There are some decisions that Rep. Betty McCollum makes that I don't agree with (for example, her stance on music/video game censorship really bugs me), but in the end I am a die-hard Betty! advocate. I'm voting for Rep. Betty McCollum because she has proven through action that she cares about all members of the community, not merely those in the DFL. Really, though, I'm voting for Betty because she's a Katie (read: she went to the College of St. Catherine) and has lived the lifethat I am striving to create for myself. She came back to St. Kate's a number of times while I was the Senate President there, and the way she talks to students makes her both a fantastic advocate for the area and just an all around great person. Plus, who's even heard of this Matthews guy?

Constitutional Amendment: Increase state sales tax by 0.375% to pay for environmental and cultural programs

This has been by far the most difficult decision for me this election season. We talked about this amendment extensively in my caucus during primary season, and my team decided that it was not a good idea. Still, i've decided that I'm voting YES because although I don't necessarily agree with the manner in which the money is being obtained, I believe strongly in the programs and services that it's going to.

My main concern is that sales tax, by definition, is recessive, which means that people with less money end up paying more of their income. In one informational pamphlet I read, it was estimated that the increase would cost Minnesota families about $1 a week, which doesn't seem like much, but when you only get $200 a month in food stamps and WIC benefits, each dollar is extremely important. Sales taxes are not the right way of getting money to pay for things, and a constitutional amendment is a particularly extreme way to go about raising funds. HOWEVER, after learning that the money will be spent specifically on programs that assist the low-income community in accessing the arts and environmental resources, I changed my No vote to Yes. I would love to hear more reasons for or against this amendment, because this is really the only issue in which my mind is not completely made up.

MN Appeals Court Judge, Seat 16

Here, I'm voting for Hon. Terri J. Stoneburner because she's the incumbent, she's been a judge for 18 years, and her opponent has given no legitimate reason to vote against her. Plus, as I said, I'm always going to err on the side of the woman, so without a reason to vote for the other guy, Hon. Stoneburner wins it for me.

MN Supreme Court Associate Justice, Seat 4

Both candidates here seem as though they would be good for the Court, but I'm voting for Hon. Lorie Skjerven Gildea . My sister got to hear her speak, and said she had some really great things to say. Plus, retired MN Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz endorsed her, and I respect Hon. Blatz immensely, so Gildea it is.

MN Supreme Court Associate Justice, Seat 3

Here seems like as good a place as any to voice my disdain for the voting for judges system we have in the great state of Minnesota. In this race, I'm voting for Hon. Paul H. Anderson because I've met him and he's really nice, plus his voting record is one of a fair and impartial guy who cares deeply for justice. But, it totally bugs me that he has to run in the first place, as he's been on the Court since 1994. He's a competent, impartial judge who deserves to keep his seat. Plus he went to Macalester, so my family would hate me if I voted against him.

United States Senate

This race is perhaps the most important one that Minnesotans have to vote for. Forgive me for my bluntness, but Norm Coleman is a total tool and the thought of him continuing as the Senior Senator from Minnesota makes me want to barf. Although it took me a second to get as excited about Al Franken as I am now, I caucused for him in the primaries and have heard him speak three times now. I'm voting for Al Franken because he's passionate about grassroots change in a way that I haven't seen since Sen. Paul Wellstone. He excites the people into believing in the political process, and anyone that knows me knows that I'm passionate about such things too. If you want to hear just how excited I am about Al, you can go on over to MPR and give it a listen. However, if I can convince you Minnesotans of one thing throughout this entire diatribe, let it be that Al Franken is exactly what this state needs.

United States President

It wont come as much of a surprise after this here rant that I'm voting for Sen. Barack Obama in tomorrow's presidential election. Besides the fact that I pretty much hate every single policy stance that Sen. John McCain holds, his entire demeanor throughout this election process only cemented my disdain for him as a candidate. There has been much talk about things not related to policy (his refusal to combat the racist comments coming from his supporters, his support for fabricated tales of terrorism in the Obama campaign, his inability to say S's correctly, his neck skin...) however I am much more interested in the actual reasons that Obama is better for the United States than McCain.

A short rundown:
- He's better on economic policy (unless you're a facist free-market libertarian, in which case you better be voting for Bob Barr because McCain ain't so free market either)
- He's WAYYYYYYYYY better on women's issues. If you want a more in depth analysis of that, go here
- He's better on foreign policy, and chose a running mate that can at least decipher who is and is not the President of France
- He cares about health care and the ability of low income people to access it
- He doesn't hate gay people
- He's a dreamboat.

Okay, this has got to be the longest post I've ever written, but it's doubtful that I have ever been as excited to vote as I am for tomorrow's big day. Even if you disagree with every single thing I've written, PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE go vote because otherwise all those fucking political ads were for naught and that seems like a big waste. There are a lot of candidates that I care about that I won't get to vote for (the joy that will ensue if Elwin Tinklenber wins the 6th District is unreal) so make sure to do your own research at the Strib website above.

I'm such a political science nerd that I doubt I'll sleep at all tonight.

P.S. - I have never had as much trouble posting a blog as I did today, so if you've read parts of this throughout the day, I appreciate your tenacity in accessing the whole thing. Happy voting!

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