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When renters become voters

Back view portrait of young African-American people standing in voting booth and thinking, copy space

By Dr. John E. Warren | OP ED

As we move toward Midterm elections, and continue to struggle with evictions and rent increases mostly based on greed and not need, it appears a good time to once again make the connection between those who vote and the quality of life, or the lack thereof, for so many.

Consider the following fact: Forty-nine percent of the residents of San Diego County and its cities are renters. While new construction continues to grow with more highrise apartments and condos, and the homeless rate continues to increase, the average person will not be able to afford to live in one of these new structures.

The reality is that most renters throughout San Diego County and the state of California are not voters. Landlords not only vote, but also contribute to candidates who run for office. Consider also that no one appears to have looked at how many of our judges themselves are landlords.

Once again, I would like to remind you of what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in May of 1957 about the power of the voter — eight years before the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was enacted:

“Give us the ballot and we will fill our legislative halls with men of goodwill……”

“Give us the ballot and we will place judges on the benches of the South who will do justice and love mercy…..”

Fifty-seven years later, we have the vote, but no longer use it for the purposes that Dr. King spoke of. If we did, we would have city, county, state and national elected officials who would see the relationship between the lack of rent control and homelessness. We, the people, have the right and responsibility to make the issues before our elected bodies and not have them determined for us.

In a few days this country will have a Midterm Election in which those who bought the Big Lie with Donald Trump are planning to use it to further do away with voting rights and the democratic process. Mainstream media is not talking about voter registration. No one appears to be placing dollars in our communities to get out the vote. But it is up to each of us to determine that “Black Votes Matter.”

While Black voters may not be as many in number as White and Latino voters, there are still enough of us to determine the outcome of any election as proven by our electing President Joe Biden in 2020.

We encourage those of you who read this, no matter what state you are in, to get involved in voter registration and the concerted effort to get out and vote in November 2022. We still have time to make Dr. King’s words of 1957 a reality in 2022.

Dr. John E. Warren is the publisher of  The San Diego Voice & Viewpoint.

Our Weekly coverage of local news in Los Angeles County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support minority-owned-and-operated community newspapers across California.