Please vote, Benicia – especially if you are in my 18-39 age group

A portrait of Nathalie Christian
Nathalie Christian

By Nathalie Christian, BenIndy Co-Editor, on the eve of the March 5, 2024 Primary Election

Dear friends,

I don’t share my own thoughts here often, preferring to highlight others’. However, it’s crucial now.

TL;DR: Please vote

This is my plea to vote, sent to all of my fellow Benicia residents but most especially my peers aged 18-39. (I turn 39 this year. Ergh.)

This is an age group that I know is very interested in avoiding the threatened cuts and service reductions should Measures A and B failcuts in all areas of the city, including Parks, Library, Public Works, Public Safety, and more. 

This is an age group that I know is also very interested in maintaining the Boards and Commissions that could be eliminated if those measures fail, as well as the grants that the City provides to the Arts, Culture and essential, community-serving nonprofits. (So vote YES on Measures A and B.)

This is an age group that I know is very interested in improving our school infrastructure for the young families many of us have, as Measure C would do without – bonus!! – raising taxes. (So vote YES on Measure C.)

Yet, shockingly,  only 367 in our age group in Benicia have voted by mail as of February 29, according to City Manager Mario Giuliani’s recent message to the City.

Despite busy lives, voting is essential, and you can still do it in person.

Election Day is tomorrow.

I’m stealing this next part straight from the City Manager’s recent message to the City.

Election Day is tomorrow – what’s your plan to vote? 

Are you wondering where to go to vote in Benicia? Check out the Benicia poll place map or look up your polling location by address. Polling locations are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on election day, March 5. (Source.)

OK, I’m back.

Our generational cohort could be a political force to reckon with, but we need to own it

While many in our age group are disillusioned with politics (same), our collective voice at the ballot box is the one of the rare ways we can influence genuine change. Not voting – even in primaries – mutes our own voices while dampening our collective voice.

Gen Z, now 18-27 and 40.8 million strong, including 8.3 million new voters since 2022, is ready to shine.  As a bloc, your votes will be the ones to drive change, addressing critical issues like systemic racism, environmental and climate sustainability, equitable access to education and healthcare, meaningful careers, and more. Don’t you want a say in all of that? Would you really rather leave what your future will look like to Boomers, Gen Xers, and (worst of all) millennials like me?

Millennials in the 27-39 camp, well. I know you’re all stressed and tired and overworked. Same. But you have to vote or you forfeit your right to complain, and we all know that’s just too much for a millennial to bear. (Kidding. I love my generation and am leaning into one of our favorite activities, self-deprecation, to cope with having to engage in one of our least favorite activities, asking for help.)

Don’t throw away your vote

There are those in this beautiful town those who abstain from voting as a form of protest, insisting that it saves them from complicity in systemic issues. Or they choose not to vote to register their frustration with a two-party system led by candidates that – even to me, the voting cheerleader – are deeply flawed.

I used to respond diplomatically to such claims, but not anymore. This line of reasoning is a painfully self-defeating conceit that must require cognitive gymnastics worthy of Simone Biles, a Gen Z icon. Do better.

Listen. Politics in America is not a zero-sum game. There is always a worse candidate, a worse result. One that will harm more people – especially people of color, the queer community, women, and children. A non-voter’s complicity in the systems they dislike vastly exceeds a voter’s. As taxpayers, their inaction only doubles their complicity.

Not voting is as good as laying out the red carpet for the systems, candidates, and policies we know have to change.

You don’t have to fill out the whole ballot

Guess what! If all my reasoning up there still failed to move you, you don’t have to vote in any contests you don’t wish to vote in.

You can support Benicia’s health and future by voting YES on MEASURE A, B, and C and leaving the rest of the ballot blank.

Please, if you haven’t mailed your vote, go to the polls tomorrow. You can bring your mail ballot to any polling station or vote in person.

Your participation matters.