Opportunity to vote should not be missed

This past week I had the opportunity to vote as I won’t be able to make it to the polls on Election Day.

I had the opportunity to vote. That is not lost on me. It is an opportunity I know I am fortunate to have.

Is it weird that I get excited to vote? To me, it’s not just about a candidate or candidates who I might look forward to supporting in a particular election. It’s not about receiving a discount or free cup of coffee if I show up somewhere wearing an “I Voted” sticker. It’s not even about the celebration of coming home to an empty mailbox or turning on the morning news without an influx of political commercials.

It’s about showing up. It’s about dreaming to continue to set the bar higher. It’s about a future that we want for our children and grandchildren … even if we only have a dog. It’s about civil discourse and being open to learning from those who think differently from us. It’s about celebrating where we’ve been, where we are and where we want to be. It’s about us. Not you, not me, but us.

As a 20-something, I often hear older generations discussing how politics used to not be this ugly. As a political science major, I studied the importance of a working democracy. As an Owensboro transplant, I quickly learned more about our late Sen. Wendell Ford, who reached across lines in order to get things done.

There are many names on the ballot this year. There are names that you are proud to see and there are other names that represent an individual with thoughts and beliefs that probably don’t line up exactly with yours. Regardless, each name that you see represents someone with courage. Someone with passion. Someone ready to represent our community.

I guess I still get excited when I show up to vote because I know my vote really counts, even if those I vote for don’t always win. I recognize the importance of exercising my right to vote … my opportunity to vote and I hope that you will, too.

By Jessica Kirk, Talent Programs and Events Manager and Executive Director of Leadership Owensboro for the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce