As a parent, I continue to be actively involved in my sons’ education. I have volunteered in their classrooms, chaperoned field trips, assisted in Scouts and other activities. In my community, I have been active in my church and other non-profit organizations. However, in the past I had never been involved politically and was not informed about local city leadership.
That all changed a couple of years ago. I was not enamored with some issues in my sons’ school. After asking questions, going up the chain of command and not receiving sufficient answers, I decided more needed to be done. I brought awareness to the topics of concern by facilitating a number of community groups, and I realized that perhaps I could make a difference by becoming a city leader myself. I decided to run for a position on the School Board and was elected by the citizens of Virginia Beach in 2016.
I have always tried to live by this code: “If you are going to complain about it, do something about it.” That is why I felt it was necessary to take the step to run for office. I believe a person’s voice is most effective if that voice is put forth with facts and reason.
I encourage the community to get involved in city government. Most city leaders do listen to your concerns, and you can be an effective voice for your community. Offering solutions to problems or concerns can also be a meaningful way for one to contribute. Simply send an email or show up to speak at a School Board or City Council meeting. These meetings are open to the public, and the public is encouraged to attend. Agendas for the meetings are posted in advance in the newspaper and online.
The bottom line is that if you have a concern, share it with the proper people – don’t just keep it to yourself and your neighbors. Take steps to help resolve the problem.
Now, I understand that holding public office isn’t for everyone. It requires a lot of time, patience and endurance for very little pay or appreciation. However, anyone can write a letter or speak at a public meeting.
Another way to get involved is to get to know the candidates running for office. Events are already beginning for citizens to come out and meet those who will be on the ballot in November. Get to know those who are making decisions for you in your city. Most of them would welcome your input.
After all, we are elected officials in a representative government and should want your input because you, the voters and taxpayers, are the stakeholders.
I often hear, “I don’t have kids in school so I don’t vote for School Board.” Did you know that School Board leaders are responsible for more than 800 million of your hard-earned tax dollars? Whether you currently have children in our schools or not, you should care about how your money is spent.
I encourage all Virginia Beach voters to be informed voters in the upcoming November election. Get to know the representatives who spend your money and make decisions on your behalf.
Don’t forget – if you are going to complain about it, do something about it.
Manning holds an at-large seat on the Virginia Beach School Board. She has volunteered with organization such as Girls on the Run, the Boy Scouts and the United Way.
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