Your Backyard: Own It!

Help own your backyard; vote!

Week of March 28, 2022 | Radio Transcript #1457

Your Backyard: Own It! has been the theme of the community events we’ve been doing around the state since early last month. The focus is to give people practical ideas for making their communities truly good—places where families thrive, religious freedom flourishes, and human life is cherished.

What we know is that someone is going to “own” our backyards—our communities, the place we call home. If we don’t help determine who “owns” our backyards, we are likely going to get leadership who doesn’t share our beliefs and values and then policies we don’t agree with and that are not truly good for the community and the people who live there.

One of the easiest and best ways to be positively involved in owning our own backyards is to vote—and especially to vote in local elections. That opportunity is happening right now statewide and will culminate on Spring Nonpartisan General Election Day next Tuesday, April 5.

Spring elections in Wisconsin are primarily about local offices. This is the time we elect mayors, city council members, county supervisors, town and village supervisors, school board members, municipal, circuit and appellate judges and more.

Local government is the unit of government that most directly impacts our lives. It gives us zoning laws, determines where streets will be and tends to their upkeep, sets speed limits, makes school curricula decisions, tells us when and where our trash will be picked up, supplies us with safe water, oversees our public libraries, establishes local building codes, and much more. Local government is also the level of government where we can have the most impact because it is the level of government that is closest to us.

Often we know the people who serve as local elected officials. They might live in our neighborhood; their kids might go to school with ours or play on the same sports teams. We might go to church with them or see them frequently in local stores. These are people, especially in our smaller communities, we can interact with quite easily because they are more readily accessible.

Local elections are also won or lost, typically, with many fewer votes than bigger elections for state legislators or a statewide office such as governor or US Senator.  For our community events, we’ve done a deep dive into the communities’ recent elections. In each of the five communities we’ve been in thus far, we have found races for city council, county board, and school board—

all of which start with a smaller pool of registered voters than state-level offices—where winners and losers have been separated by very, very few votes. That means with a little organization and work, people who supported the losing candidate could have quite easily gotten their candidate across the finish line in first place.

Add to all this the reality that our spring elections are historically low voter-turnout elections—especially when we don’t have a statewide race on the ballot, which is the situation we have this year. This means every vote cast in one of these low-turnout local elections means more and makes more of a difference than in higher-turnout elections.

We each have the opportunity to make a difference in this spring’s elections that are all about our own backyard. Early in-person voting is taking place right now across the state. Contact your municipal clerk for days and hours early voting is available. Absentee ballots are available by mail, as well, but the opportunity to request one ends this Thursday.  Absentee ballots must be either returned by mail or taken by the voter to the clerk’s office. Drop boxes are not available for this election, per court order; and clerks have been told not to accept absentee ballots handed to them from someone other than the voter himself or herself.

You can see a sample ballot, find your polling location—and this is important since many municipalities have done some redistricting, request an absentee ballot, get contact information for your clerk and more at myvote.wi.gov. That’s myvote.wi.gov.

We urge you to visit this website, find out who is on your ballot, get informed about the candidates before you go to vote. A blind vote can be very, very dangerous. Be knowledge, responsible, and prayerful as a Christian voter—in doing so you will honor God and will be taking steps to appropriately own your backyard.

Finally, we urge everyone to help others get informed about this election and the importance of making a difference right where we live. It’s just so true—we can change Wisconsin in a really good way one backyard at a time.

This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

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