What exactly does a new perspective mean anyway? [Re-post from 2014]

This is a re-post of a Facebook post from 4 years ago during the 2014 election. It’s still relevant today, although some of the details have changed since I wrote it.

Three out of four of the current (incumbent) trustees have served in that role for decades – in fact one has served for nearly thirty years. One was first elected in the late 1980s, another in the 1990s, and the third in 2000. So right away when I think about perspective, I look at those numbers, and I can’t help ask, “Can we have someone else sitting at the table? Isn’t there such a thing as being somewhere too long?” That’s not meant to put anyone down; I want to make that clear. But what gets lost when the same people are elected again and again? What new ideas get missed? What viewpoints go unnoticed?

There is something to be said for experience. And frankly, the incumbent candidates will probably use that when arguing for re-election. And that makes sense. Why wouldn’t you? But again, I ask yet another question, “What is wrong with stepping back to allow other opinions to be heard?” And some incumbents will argue that if they get elected over and over again, well, that must mean people are happy with them. Maybe that’s true. But when I look at how low voter turnout is in local elections that gives me a reason to doubt the whole ‘voters are happy’ idea. Clearly many aren’t happy. If they were, then they would be active and engaged.

Why a lack of engagement? Because they don’t feel like it matters. Why don’t they feel like it matters? Because they aren’t being heard. Why aren’t they being heard? Because the perspective is not changing! I talk about a new perspective because it really is so important, and right now, the whole ‘business as usual’ or ‘go with the flow’ approach is failing pretty much everywhere. And it’s really unfair. It’s unfair for me, as someone who is trying to add to and change the conversation, but it’s unfair for the public too when they are the ones who end up feeling muted and ignored for much the same reason.

I am almost 26 years old. I was born with a physical disability and I’ve lived with it for my entire life as a student, as an adult, and a member of the community. It has hasn’t defined me, but it has shaped who I am as a person in many ways. And I really am thankful for the opportunities I’ve had as a result. People sometimes ask, “If you could change things tomorrow, if you could be like everyone else, would you?” No – I wouldn’t change a thing!

I have been actively involved in the community in a variety of different ways. If it wasn’t for my Cerebral Palsy I honestly don’t know where I would be. But I love that it has made me see things differently, I love that it has made me engaged in the community, not just pertaining to accessibility, but in everything I’ve been part of! It has given me insights that I may not have had otherwise and it has helped shape my perspective.

I just want to share that perspective. And hopefully I’ll be allowed [on election day] to give something back, and bring something new to the table.