Op-ed: Let’s be respectful, decent and kind

By Kammi Foote

Inyo County Registrar of Voters

2016 was an unusual and emotional election year. However, a Presidential election should not be what defines how we as Americans connect. We have faced greater years of turmoil, starting with our fight for independence, through world wars, Great Depression and 9/11. Through it all, our resiliency is seen across generations. We are strong, and our nation will move forward because of our core values.


Inyo County Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters, Kammi Foote

This past year, Americans voted for thousands of elected representatives at every level of government—from the President of the United States to local school board members. Across the nation, local elected officials have taken their oath to uphold the laws of our nation. Although most state and local office holders transition into their new roles with little unrest, this election has showed how divided we feel as a nation.

Our views are shaped by our personal life experiences. For example, living in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, surrounded by clean air and well maintained, relatively unoccupied highways, I am not affected by smog and gridlock from millions of car engines idling on crumbling roads. This could be why roads and clean air policies are not at the forefront of issues for rural communities.

Conversely, my urban friends, whose lives are daily affected by commutes, public safety concerns and expensive housing costs, are little concerned with grazing policies.  However, where we choose to live should not prevent us from seeking to understand each other’s challenges.

Some of our differences are based on things outside of our control. Some of us grew up in loving, supportive families, while others were victims of domestic abuse and addiction. Some were born into families offering vast opportunities while others were born into turmoil and struggle.

These divergent backgrounds have yielded different beliefs, needs, personalities, anxieties, hopes and dreams. Yet at our core, all Americans—natural born and those who come here—share common values.

I believe that all Americans want to provide a decent living for their families, pursue their dreams, have safe neighborhoods, access to good education and healthcare, feel secure in our futures and practice our faith without persecution.

Being an American citizen is not simply about promoting our own individual values based on our own life experiences. It is also about fulfilling a responsibility as citizens to recognize and appreciate our differences–and working to understand one another. To do this, we must have a sense of caring, empathy and concern for others and be willing to listen to and respect other people’s realities.

I’m not talking about being “politically correct.” I’m talking about being respectful, decent and kind. We as citizens can achieve this mindset and behavior only by developing two traits: a self-awareness that challenges us to overcome our own biases, assumptions and stereotypes and an ability to engage in civil dialogue with those holding different views.

Working to resolve conflicting interests at the federal level takes time. Luckily, we live in America where our representative government is divided into smaller local governments.

The people we elect to lead our local communities can more readily respond to our needs and bring us together to seek solutions. If something needs to change, it is our responsibility to communicate with our local leaders. We are all responsible for improving our communities for ourselves and others.

As our new President takes the oath of office on January 20, we must cultivate a civil, all-inclusive dialogue to forge our future nation. Together. And we must never forget that our government is made “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

So, if you want change for yourself, your community, and your nation, don’t stay on the sidelines. Get involved. Democracy may be messy, but communities which thrive rely on the active engagement and participation of its citizens.

Together, let us build upon the foundation of our nation’s Republic and create a better tomorrow for ourselves and our future generations.

This is the America that I believe in.

“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of a democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

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7 Responses to Op-ed: Let’s be respectful, decent and kind

  1. Bob January 20, 2017 at 10:52 am #

    You have some serious issues if you need it to say “be nice” in your job description in order to do something positive.

  2. Mammoth Watchdog January 19, 2017 at 1:31 pm #

    “The County Clerk/Recorder and department staff are responsible for the official recording, filing and preserving of all vital documents in the County. The county clerk is responsible for filing vital records, or important documents related to a specific county’s population, including birth, death and marriage certificates.
    As the Clerk/Recorder and the Registrar of Voters as well, responsible for Federal, State and local elections.”

    Nowhere does it say to put forward efforts to “be nice” nor persuade people into entering into the political process, nor how to behave during this process, nor how to be a perfect American.

    Is Ms. Foote running for a higher office or something?

  3. Mammoth Watchdog January 13, 2017 at 11:25 am #

    Though Ms. Foote has a right to speak her mind and submit her thoughts in a public forum, I think she might be of better service as the Registrar of Voters, to avoid at all costs anything remotely political.

  4. Allen Berrey January 11, 2017 at 10:27 am #

    Thank you Clerk-Recorder Foote for your eloquent and timely opinion piece.

    I could not agree more that, in these times of such division, it is imperative that all Americans try to be empathetic to the plight of others.

    And for that reason it is my hope that, at its special meeting tomorrow (1/12/17), the Inyo County Board of Supervisors will designate Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a County holiday.

    By that action the Board can show its understanding, empathy, and respect for the struggle for civil rights, for which Dr. King gave his life.

    In my view, this action is long overdue – President Reagan designated Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a federal holiday in 1983; but, as Dr. King (and others) said, it is never the wrong time to do the right thing.

    And I also agree that as citizens we all have an obligation to participate in our democracy. That is why several months ago I requested that the Board of Supervisors honor Dr.King with a County holiday. So, maybe participating actually works from time to time.


  5. Trouble January 11, 2017 at 5:38 am #

    I admire Kammi. To me she has really shown a great sense of service and dedication to her elected positions she holds. But, I have to say but, I think people are better served speaking up on why they voted one way or another.
    For me, it didn’t really matter who won. California voters basically have zero say in or federal elections right now. I mean zero. Our elected officials basically get to put their rubber stamp on it. I like a lot of what both parties stand for. But, I despise several things both parties stand for.

    We need universal health care and all of our rights to bare arms is be infringed open Those are my two biggest issues.

  6. BobK January 10, 2017 at 1:55 pm #

    You hear that Carne, Tim…?

  7. Mono Person January 10, 2017 at 7:29 am #

    Nicely stated – thank you!


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