The Inland Valley of Southern California is the fastest-growing region in the state, with over 4.5 million residents in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Only 1.5 million of these residents are registered to vote. According to the Public Policy Institute of California report, Inland Empire in 2015, the region has the fastest-growing Latino population in the nation and Latinos are projected to become the majority in the region by 2015. The region is heavily working-class, with an average income of $36,924 in 2006 and low educational attainment – 17.7% of Inland Valley adults do not have a high school diploma. Making things worse the effects of the Great Recession have been as severe in the Inland Valley as anywhere in the nation and our recovery has been slow. The conservative power structure that was long ago outstripped demographically, but retains power due to low voter turnout and gerrymandered districts, is on its way out. It is not often that we have a clear opportunity to change the political demographics to match the region’s transformation. The key to obtaining power for our communities lies in developing the habit of voting.
One of the most critical ways that individuals can influence governmental decision-making is through voting. The goal of the Local Voices! Local Votes--Count! Campaign is to organize the voters of the disenfranchised communities in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. the City of San Bernardino. Our campaign will directly involve voters in the political decision-making process in order to build community voting power and to create social change. Indigenous leaders and community members will work together to design a community platform that will address local issues. This community platform will be used as a tool to hold elected officials accountable to the community as well as guide voters on initiatives, measures, and candidates.
Our work involves grassroots organizing, civic, voter education and orientation to expand political participation on local issues. Our goal is to build a strong voting block of people o9f color and working class families to push the issues and policies that will enhance our lives, create good jobs, build political power and create thriving communities. Our program is based on the belief that people are influenced by those they know – their neighbors, friends and family – we developed our program using local neighborhood leaders. Our approach is to merge our organizing efforts with our voter mobilization efforts in order to optimize both the programs and merge them into one. The key to voter turnout is in understanding the relevance between the conditions in which people live and the votes they cast at the polls.