Ta'jin Perez


Contributed photo

We are blessed with both a great freedom and great responsibility.

Our privilege to vote has come with very significant amounts of effort, organization, emotion, and perseverance. Some within our communities have had this privilege for longer than some. For many, the act of voting is beset with obstacles.

Our responsibility in civics does not end with a ballot cast at the polls. At Western Native Voice, we work to fulfill the promise made to Native communities across Montana. That promise is that every vote is significant and every vote counts. I hold that duty and hold myself accountable to fulfilling that promise, not just to Native communities, but to all friends and neighbors.

A corner stone of our campaign is civic engagement. On our weekly Talking Circle Tuesdays Facebook Live videos, we’ve discussed the importance, and impact, of voter education, voting, and organization. As a candidate, and if I am so fortunate to be elected councilman, it is my promise and responsibility to make myself accountable.

An educated and engaged citizenry should be the biggest goal for any candidate aiming to serve their community. All of the candidates running for public office have agendas and motivations for the leap of faith they’ve taken on. Ours happens to be the full and proactive involvement of as many regular citizens as possible. Our promise is for proactive outreach so that you, the capable and discerning citizen reading this, know that we are as much indebted to your consent and confidence as you are responsible to the great power you wield.

What I’ve learned, with Western Native Voice, is that to create effective relationships we have to meet people where they are. This means both physically, intellectually, and spiritually. I hold privileges that others do not. This means it falls on me, and others who are similarly privileged, to go out of our way to bring others up so we can all move forward.

Another very significant lesson I’ve learned is the power of social media. Facebook is huge in Montana, and Billings is no exception. That’s where the inspiration for our Facebook Live videos originated. Just about everyone has a smartphone, and just about everyone uses it for social media. It is the most perfect tool to bring everyone into the conversations on voting, policy, and how it all shapes our lives now, and into the future.

So, to conclude, the largest service I can provide this great city is my experience and passion in getting all people to the decision making table. We can do better and we will do better. If prosperity and community come to some, but not to all, then we have failed in our labor. Let’s start by bringing all into the circle, and that is exactly what I aim to do no matter the outcome.

Ta’jin J. Perez is a candidate for City Council, Ward 2, in the Sept. 12 Primary Election.