Voting & Civic Engagement Speaker Series: “If You’re Not at the Table, You’re on the Menu”

By United Way of King County Posted on September 23, 2020 In Emerging Leaders 365, Events, News, Racial Equity

This blog post was written by Emerging Leaders 365 donor and panel participant, Connor Walsh.

With less than 50 days before the election on November 3rd, it’s more important than ever to ensure that we vote, that our votes are counted, and that we stay connected to what’s going on in our community.

That’s why United Way of King County (UWKC) held a virtual speaker series on Voting and Civic Engagement last Wednesday, introducing around 40 Emerging Leader 365er’s to a panel of young professionals and public policy experts, emceed by Nathalie Marte (Emerging Leaders 365 Committee member) and UWKC’s resident public policy expert, Colleen Laing (Associate Director of Planning and Public Policy). The panel featured Alexander Rushin (YPCommunities), Rachel Peterson (YPN), Connor Walsh (Emerging Leaders 365 donor and Engagement Officer at UWKC) and was moderated by Abel Pacheco (former Seattle City Council Member of District 4 and current Government and Community Relations Manager of Sound Transit).

Nathalie Marte kicked the conversation off with a great, pre-recorded message from Brad Evans of the Sounders on the importance of voting. UWKC’s public-policy expert, Colleen Laing, then dove into the important dates that we need to pay attention to, ensuring that we vote and that our votes are counted:

  • October 16th – Ballots will arrive as early as the 16th of October
  • October 26th – Registering online or via mail is cut off on the 26th of October (register or check your registration here)
  • drop box locations throughout King County
  • November 3rd: Election day and the last day to register in person if you still aren’t registered

After drawing attention to how and when to vote, the panelists, moderated by Abel Pacheco, talked about why we should vote and be civically engaged. They provided great insight into important local issues (like King County Charter amendments), unique ways to ensure everyone in our networks vote (find yourself an electoral buddy or host a “ballots and brunch”), and how to voice opinions to elected officials (write letters in agreement/disagreement and protest).

Panelists Rachel and Alex brought up two great phrases, “if you’re not on the table, you’re on the menu” and the misconception that “if I don’t bother politics, they won’t bother me.” The panelists expanded on how politicians affect our daily lives – crafting policy that affects healthcare, transportation, climate change, homelessness, education, policing, and so much more. At the sake of perverting Wu-Tang Clan’s notorious line, “Cash Rules Everything Around Me,” a good reminder of why voting matters can be thought of as “Politicians Rule Everything Around Me” (P.R.E.A.M. just doesn’t role off the tongue as well, though). With the great influence that elected officials have, the panelists underscored that voting is one of the few opportunities to lend our voices and support to a cause or politician that most closely champions a vision of what our future could and should look like.

A lively Q&A, with a lot of engagement from the audience, ended the conversation, leaving attendees (and the speakers) feeling more resolute than ever to stay civically and electorally engaged in not just this upcoming election but at all times of the year.

Looking for a way to stay engaged and give back? Join our October Monthly Challenge focused on getting out the vote and connecting immigrants and first time voters with ballots.

If you weren’t able to attend the event, check out the full recording here!

Thank you to our sponsor:


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