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Good afternoon. Buenas tardes a todos.

Today is the first day of voting in Bloomington – early voting opened at 8am, so the election has begun in earnest. I was on campus at noon for a Walk2Vote rally encouraging students to vote. I quoted the US Constitution:

"We the People. In order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

People fought and died to establish self-government here. And of course at the beginning, it was far from a “perfect Union.” Lots of people were left out or pushed to the side or worse in the early days.  We as a people have been organizing and protesting and marching and struggling to extend the vote and full participation since the founding of our country (and before). Including people of color in part with the bloodiest war we’ve suffered in our Civil War. To Women, after 130 years. (Remember women haven’t had the vote for even half of U.S. history). To 18-20 year olds. All pointed toward reaching a More Perfect Union.

The story of America is the story of a country that keeps getting better by getting more diverse and more open. More creative. More interesting. More multicultural. And the history of Bloomington is the same.

We have the great fortune to be a “University city” – can I say Ciudad Universitaria? It is in our DNA to have new people, new ideas, challenging approaches, every year. Our residents of Bloomington, to a large majority, cherish diversity and change and challenge.

Certainly, fundamentally as part of that dynamic and improving story of our country and our community is the Hispanic and Latino community.

Our city is committed to being a place of welcome and inclusion to Hispanic and Latino families. From the Commission on Hispanic and Latino Affairs, to our recent Fiesta del Otoño, Boletin Communitario, Holiday Gift Program, and much more. We are becoming a more diverse and interesting city because of all of this.

Por examplo. Yo hablo español muy mal. Pero trato de lo major. Yo trato. Debo estudiar mas. Necesito ayuda de Israel tal vez? Mas tarde.

I want to thank the Commission on Hispanic and Latino Affairs, and particularly staff member Exsenet Esler – as well as Beverly Calendar-Anderson) for all the work they do in organizing this event, and for all they do throughout the year. 

And of course our community is full of volunteers, and families, and institutions like our school systems of Monroe County and Richland Bean Blossom and so many nonprofits, who help provide support in so many ways to Latino and Hispanic families. It is so good to be in a community that continues to grow and diversify. It’s good for our souls. And our economy. And our future. And our stomachs! Me gusta mucho!!

This afternoon we’re gathering to celebrate some of the notables with awards, which are so richly deserved. That is a good and appropriate thing to do. As your mayor, the mayor of 84,000 residents here in Bloomington, I’m here to say thank you for all that you ALL are doing for our community. Thank for making us a better city, every year, every day, with all you do and all you are.

I’ll close with a request. Sort of where I started. Please vote!  Por favor voten!

Too many states, including our own, are making it more difficult to vote in different and sometimes insidious ways. But it’s up to us to exercise our vote as we have it. That’s how good changes happen.

I won’t ask you to vote for any particular candidates. That wouldn’t be appropriate in this setting.  [but if you want to talk with me afterwards, I’m delighted to do so!] I will urge you to vote. To help move our country, our state, our community forward, with candidates who will continue to invest in all of us, and support our diversity and move us forward. You decide on that.

I will mention one specific vote: the renewal of the Public School Referendum, which is right near the top of the ballot—I hope you’ll join me in voting yes for that school referendum, which is so essential to keep our public schools strong and open to all and high quality.

Remember what Thomas Jefferson said: “We in America do not have government by the majority – we have government by the majority who participate . . . [he added words that I want to share today too: ]  All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”

Thank you all for being here.  Muchisimas Gracias. Hasta luego.

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