After the April 7 election, there was a lot of disappointment, anger and impassioned talk in the young professional community, mostly about the candidates we failed to elect because the global "we" failed to get out and vote.
In analyzing city numbers, Luce Research of Colorado Springs has found that of people in our age range, 30 to 44, only 14.4 percent voted. Let us repeat that: Of the 70,863 registered voters in Colorado Springs between the ages of 30 and 44, only 14.4 percent voted, or an appalling 10,234 people.
A challenge to young professionals
Come on Gen Xers and Millennials, we can do better. As the next generation that is going to be running our business, arts and nonprofit communities, not to mention this city, we have to do better than that. We need to prove it to the current leadership, that this fight is worth fighting. That putting resources behind our quality of life and interests is beneficial to this community.
We have to step up and put the work in.
That in mind, the two of us joined with Hannah Parsons, community advocate, and Lisa Tessarowicz, co-founder of Epicentral Coworking to brainstorm. Now we start the #RockTheVoteCOS revolution! And, yes, that's a throwback to MTV's Rock the Vote campaign that began in 1990 and inspired us, as first-time voters, to learn about the candidates and add our voice — and vote — to the leadership that would shape the next four years of our lives.
Ballots have once again been mailed, this time for that mayoral runoff. What we're asking friends, family, co-workers, community — YOU — to do is simple.
1) Open the ballot.
3) If you can, drop that completed ballot off at Centennial Hall (off Cascade and Vermijo) sometime between 4 and 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 14. There you'll get your "#RockTheVoteCOS" sticker, and from there you can come join us at Nosh for a "Rock the Vote" party featuring great eats, music from Mango Fan Django, and two-for-one beer from Bristol Brewing.
This isn't about the party, this is about making sure our voices are heard. Loudly. And repeatedly. This is about showing up and shaping our city.
Even if you can't make the #RockTheVoteCOS party on Thursday, May 14, tell your friends about it so they can come. Then put a 49-cent stamp on your ballot (maybe more if you're asked to include a copy of your ID) and pop it back in your mailbox. Or just take it to your nearest ballot drop-off — there are 10 in the city! Visit coloradosprings.gov/election for locations.
Finally, follow us on Facebook at Rock The Vote COS or on Twitter at @RockTheVoteCOS. Take a picture of yourself dropping off your ballot and post it there, or to your favorite social media spot, with #RockTheVoteCOS in the message. And encourage — no, demand — that your friends and family do the same.
$3,000 to local nonprofits
Our goal is to increase the number of young professional voters, ages 30 to 44, in this election. We want to see 14,173 of 70,863 registered voters in our age group — just 20 percent of us — cast a vote. To add a little extra incentive, if voter turnout in this age group hits 20 percent in the runoff, the CSBJ and the Indy will donate $1,000 to each of these three local nonprofits that make a daily difference in how our generation lives our lives: Colorado Springs Urban Intervention, the Trails and Open Space Coalition (for which, by way of disclosure, one of us is a board member) and COPPeR.
We can do this. We aren't the slackers portrayed in late '90s and early '00s pop culture.
So whether you're a fan of Makepeace or a supporter of Suthers, make your voice and your vote count. We don't care if you're coming out for the music, the sticker, the beer, the food, the nonprofits, or just to see and be seen. Just come out and help us #RockTheVoteCOS!
Jen Furda is associate publisher of the Colorado Springs Business Journal; Carrie Simison is associate publisher/COO of the Independent.