Demographers predict that by 2040 the United States of America will be a minority-majority country. In 2018, about 93% of the people that ran for federal government were white, and 80% of them were men.
The statistics are very similar in Collin County, where current makeup of government leaders does not reflect the nation’s demographics, nor the growing diversity. And while Collin County saw a record turnout in this past general election season, with 75% of the registered voters coming out to vote, local election turnout is still under 20%.
Collin County Business Alliance (CCBA) hosted a roundtable discussion with business and community leaders on March 4th, 2021, to discuss the importance of diversity in public service , which they stress is imperative to a more inclusive community. This is the third in a series of conversations encouraging community members to run for office.
Mandy Price, CEO, Kanarys, Inc.
“It’s really important that we have diverse representation within the government to ensure that we aren’t limiting our decision making and thinking about the greater effect of the common good,” Price said.
Price has been striving to raise awareness of the importance of diversity in Corporate America with Kanarys, a technology platform that she co-founded to foster collaboration between companies and employees to improve diversity, equity and inclusion.
“In corporate and business spheres we are so focused internally,” she said. “People of color need to be made aware of the difference they can make, and business leaders should encourage employees to be involved in the community, not only on nonprofit boards but also on city and county commissions.”
Vernettea Walker, Founder, Vernetta Walker Consulting
Walker said she saw lots of boards across the country that had little or no diversity.
Now the senior advisor on diversity, inclusion, and equity at BoardSource, Walker stressed that community leaders should encourage voter engagement and interest among people of color to run for office by building relationships with corporations.
“These conversations are important,” Walker said, “because we’re not discussing tokenism nor electing someone based on skin color.When we’re missing voices we’re missing opportunities.”
But talking about race can be uncomfortable for some people. Walker pointed out that it takes work to get people to lean into it.
“We have to keep having these conversations to get to know each other so that it doesn’t feel so scary.”
Judge Angela Tucker, 199th District Court in Collin County
Judge Tucker is the first African American female elected to a judge position in Collin County. When she ran for election, Judge Tucker said high school students helped her with social media and putting up and taking down signs. Ladies from her church helped her knock on doors. She noted that it’s a sacrifice for some people but it’s also important for communities of color to know that donating $10, $20, or even $25 can go a long way in providing the necessary resources in a candidate’s race. Being prepared and working hard with a good group of supporters is equally important.
“It does take a village,” she said. “You need everyone that you know – friends, family members, church members, and everyone that they know, to help you when it comes to campaign time.”
She has seen firsthand how diverse perspectives and different lived experiences contribute to solutions in the criminal justice system and for children in foster care.
“Who you vote into your local courthouse is just as important as who you’re voting into the White House,” Tucker said.
For more information on how to run for office and local election details, visit CollinCountyVotes.com/run-for-office. April 1 is the deadline to register to vote and early voting begins April 19.