Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney paid a visit to the YWCA's Girls Inc. Discovery Camp recently during their "She Votes" theme week. Camp Discovery is a seven-week program offering a variety of exciting and educational activities for girls, ages 5 to 16, based at their headquarters at 401 Douglas Street in Syracuse. Mahoney talked to the girls about the political process and the importance of exercising your right to vote.
"I won my job by only 21 votes," Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said. "So can you imagine how awful you would feel if you learned when an election was over and the candidate you like lost by one vote and you didn't go out and vote?"
Mahoney also explained the responsibilities of her job as county executive. "For instance, I'm the person who makes sure the roads and bridges are safe for you to use, that your water is clean, and the parks are safe and clean including the zoo," she said. Mahoney sited the recent outbreak of Legionnaires Disease on Onondaga Hill as a recent challenge for her and her staff.
"It is my job to oversee the Heath Department who went in to clean it up so no one else gets sick." Mahoney was impressed by the girls' questions and their knowledge of government. Several of the girls asked how they could get involved now. "Talk to an adult in your life and then if they think it is a good idea, call up the political party of a candidate you like and volunteer."
Mahoney said there is always work even for young volunteers like stuffing envelopes for mailings or distributing campaign fliers. At the end of the talk many of the girls were inspired to get involved in the current Presidential campaign. Mahoney told the girls that their voice is important to the political process in this country.
"Did you know there are more women than men in this country?" Mahoney asked the girls. "But only 13 percent of the members of Congress are women. Most of the people making the laws are men. We as women need to stick together to be heard. I'm not saying to just vote for a woman no matter what, but women need a voice in government."
Mahoney told the girls she had a lot of obstacles to overcome to get elected. "That's what's great about America. I went to the people and let them decide."