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Voters of Habitat - Part 2

Greta Gaetz
Posted by Greta Gaetz on 3:03 PM on October 23, 2020

With the election coming up on November 3, we asked Twin Cities Habitat volunteers, homeowners, and staff for their reflections on why voting is important, how they bring their values to the polls, and what it means to them to Vote for Home. Some of their responses are below. Hear from more Voters of Habitat in Part 1 of our series.

Featured images of this blog's Voters of Habitat. From left to right: Lou Cristan, Juanita Jensen, Ethelind Kaba, Bethany Nagan, Shereese Turner, Karen Welle, and Skip Schmall. Profiles and more detailed image descriptions will follow in order.

Before we dive in, you should know that we've created a virtual Elections Resource Center for you, where you can:

  • Learn everything you need to know about voting
  • Sign our pledge to vote for home
  • Download your free Candidate Conversation Guide
  • And more!

Go to tchabitat.org/elections now and then be sure to share with your networks!

Elections Resource Center

Lou Cristan, Board Member

Lou Cristan, Board Member, smiling in his home wearing a gray TC Habitat sweatshirt, glasses, and a white TC Habitat baseball cap

“Voting is my civic responsibility. My choices and preferences are expressed and recorded through the voting process. My voting plan for 2020 is to get a sample ballot to determine what elected positions are to be decided at the local, state, and federal levels; familiarize myself with each of the candidates via available resources; attend or view forums, town halls, and debates related to ballot issues; select candidates which align closest to positions deemed most important to the level of government being determined throughout the ballot; and vote early in person at our polling place to avoid crowds. Voting for Home means to consider how issues and positions, including both policy and budgeting, align with making safe, stable, and affordable homes reasonably available to all.”


Juanita Jensen, Homeowner

Juanita Jensen, Homeowner, smiling outside in a pink shirt and necklace. There's some greenery on a step behind her.

“I vote to have a voice. Voting provides an opportunity to share my values and beliefs with others in government or running for office to uphold and pass laws for the betterment of everyone, to maintain what is working, and to make change to improve it. Vote for Home means advocacy on homes for all, knowing a home provides so much more than a roof over our heads. Vote for Home means you are part of a community and can make lasting changes for personal safety, stability for growth in education, and job opportunities for adults and children alike. Vote for Home is a vote so everyone has the right to affordable and stable housing.”


Ethelind Kaba, Campaign Council Member

Ethelind Kaba, Campaign Council Member, smiling with her arms behind her, wearing glasses, oversized navy tassel earrings, and a yellow, white, and navy striped oversized blouse. She's standing in front of a light gray background.

“Once upon a time, women couldn’t vote, and once upon a time, Black people couldn’t vote. Just a decade ago, I couldn’t vote as an immigrant who wasn’t yet a citizen. I vote because I now have previously denied rights, and exercising them feels like a small part in expressing my gratitude to all those who came before me and a duty to those who still cannot vote. Voting is an opportunity to express my voice, however feeble it seems at times. Voting for me is an act to support people who will advocate for policies that align with my personal mission: we all deserve basic human dignity and equitable opportunities. Voting allows me to remind candidates that the voices of the community matter.”


Bethany Nagan, Mortgage Portfolio Manager

Bethany Nagan, Mortgage Portfolio Manager, smiling and standing in front of a wooden door, wearing a black tank top.

“Our system of government has a lot of influence on our lives. I care about the lives of my neighbors, so I find it important to vote to participate in this system. It’s important to use my voice to advocate for the values I want to see put into action. I’m voting to advance equity in housing. Our cities, states, and nations have a history of government taking action to create inequities, especially in race, and I now vote for those who will use government policies to dismantle the results of these inequitable policies. Safe and stable housing has impacts into all other aspects of our lives that I find it important to advance as one of the top values I vote on.”


Shereese Turner, Chief Program Officer

Voters - Shereese Turner

“As a youth it was always instilled in me the power of the vote. My uncle ran for Alderman in the 9th Ward on the Southside of Chicago in the early 1980s, and that was my first introduction to the process and the importance of voting. He did not win the seat, but there were valuable lessons learned about the political arena. If I did not vote it would be a form of disrespect to those who came before me. It is my duty and responsibility to vote! We certainly have more power than we think we do. If we didn’t, “the powers that be” would not try so hard to suppress the vote. If I want my grandchildren to see a more “just” place to live, we must show up, elect individuals in office, hold them accountable, and ensure they represent all and not just some.”


Karen Welle, Volunteer

Karen Welle, Volunteer, smiling and standing outside a build site in the sun, wearing glasses, a white hard hat, a light blue sweater jacket, a blue and green neck scarf, and a gray and white patterned mask around her neck.

“I've never really been asked why I vote, and I've never thought about it. I always vote and have since I became eligible in college, so about 30 years ago. It's the most important way that I can express my voice and participate in our democracy. It is sacred to me. In addition to voting, I use the online contact forms that each of our elected officials have in place to lend my voice to issues or concerns that I have throughout the year. I worked for a Minnesota state senator at one time, so I know it is important for our representatives to hear from constituents. Constituent voices are critical to their decision-making.”


Skip Schmall, Site Supervisor

Skip Schmall, Site Supervisor, outdoors and wearing khaki shorts and a red t-shirt with a black and white baseball cap. He is kneeling while looking ponderous holding a pen to his chin, by a gray wicker chair that has his dog, Maple, sitting atop it, with an "I Voted" sticker decorating her forehead and a black and red checkered bandana around her neck. She sits next to an election ballot in its envelope, which is standing up.

“I vote as an act of civic engagement. There are many ways to contribute to your community and participate in civic life. Responsibly exercising the franchise is just one instance of that open to us. It is very important to me that public institutions are sensitive to all the stakeholders influenced by their policies, both in their community and beyond. With finite public resources, I try to have an eye to maximizing benefit to the common good, with increased consideration toward those individuals and communities with the least opportunities. To Vote for Home is to vote with the knowledge that decent affordable housing is foundational to human flourishing. Providing more and better access to housing must be a political priority. I will be voting by mail in 2020, with moral support and envelope licking provided by Maple the Mini Golden Doodle.”


You can join Lou, Juanita, Ethelind, Bethany, Shereese, Karen, and Skip in bringing your values to the polls this election. Sign our pledge to Vote for Home today!

Pledge to Vote for Home

Tags: Advocacy, 2020

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