As Marina walked to her polling station, she repeated in her head the names of all the candidates or, at least, the names of the ones she knew about. This time there were so many names. She liked it more when it was between three or four people. But this time there were almost ten and that just seemed too much for a race for a mayoral post.
Nevertheless, it was the most important mayoral post in the country. Some people even called it the second most important political figure in the country after the president. And that wasn’t surprising when you realized how really useless was a job like the one of the vice-president. Marina thought that office should disappear and pass their responsibilities to other hands. Most people in the country didn’t know who their vice-president once, except maybe this time around because it was well known he was going after the presidential seat in a few years time.
But anyway, today was about the city. Marina had been born thee in a middle class neighborhood and had grown up there. She had never moved, except after college when she decided to leave the country to learn another language but that was it. She could say she knew every street, every corner of her neighborhood and also the whole city to be honest. After all, as a girl who had worked as a delivery person in a pizza place, she had to know addresses and a good chunk of the city.
Her district had grown through the years. When it first appeared on maps, some seventy years ago, the neighborhood was on the edge of the city and was home of the wealthy. Their house, beautifully constructed Victorian buildings still stood on every street of the district but wealthy people had long been gone. Many of them now lived in country houses or large apartments overlooking the city from the hills, which were the tallest geographical feature. Now her district was middle class and very diverse.
Marina had seen change before her eyes, because her neighborhood had also attracted, over the years, a very diverse group of people. From people from other regions that had come to the capital for a better life to artists and intellectuals who made the Victorian houses their homes or cultural centers for the whole city. Many of them had been converted to dancing schools, acting schools, music conservatories and other uses. And maybe because of this, it was becoming rare to see big families leaving in the neighborhood. Instead there were a lot of “new” families coming such as homosexual couples and many singles and students.
When she got to the polling station, Marina was already sure of her choice. It wasn’t difficult after all because there was only one person that would seek to preserve the past but also embrace the present, exactly what her district was all about and what she honestly loved about her neighborhood. Marina voted for a woman, one of only two women there, because she was the one most vocal to embrace the “new” city instead of going back to the old, ragged politics.
In another part of town, more exactly near the hills that watched over the shallow valley were the city sat, Albert was stepping out of his polling station. He didn’t really put much thought about his vote as he had decided many months ago, since the candidates had become public.
Albert was almost fifty years old, had a lovely wife, two kids and worked in the city’s stock market. It was a difficult job but one he loved because he had always been fond of numbers and, to be honest, of money. He made a lot of money in that job, more than he could have ever imagined and with his savings he had bought a large apartment, two cars and a flat by the beach, which they visited at least once a year.
The truth was that, different than Marina, Albert wasn’t really in loved with this city. Yes, he had been born there but from a young age he had travelled around the world because of his father’s work and had learned how much better it could be for everyone. People in other countries could be financially better and be able to live an “easier” life. In this country, the differences between the rich and the poor were abysmal but the rich were not that rich to begin with.
Besides all this, he was tired of the mayor’s policies to forbid him to use his cars as he wanted, the taxes went up every year so he could help pay what the poor spent in water and power and he thought that the city was mixing too much for his taste. As an example, in his neighborhood many people that used to live in other parts of the city had begun arriving recently. Some were foreigners hired by multinationals but some others were just people that made his district look bad.
At work and around his family members, he would always try to convince them to vote like he did. He told them that the mayor had to be someone that worked the same way the government worked in the good years for the economy so the city could grow to make a better life for all of its inhabitants. As a proof of sorts of what he said about the current mayor, he told everyone he could hold on to for more than five minutes that he was thinking of moving to the countryside, to another jurisdiction, because he thought smaller towns knew exactly what to offer to people like him.
So after he voted, he took his wife voting too and after that left the city to their beach flat where they would check the results o f the voting.
Another person that was leaving the city was Juan. Juan had arrived to the city some two years ago, when looking for a university where he could study to become a designer. He worked very hard in his classes and always tried to innovate and be the one the teachers looked at. After all, his family had gone through great challenges in order to send him to another city to live and study. At the same time that Albert, Juan was leaving the city to visit his family back in his hometown after going to vote early.
He preferred to do it really early so the voting station would be almost empty. It was well known that in the capital very few people voted earlier than midday and besides he had to be at the airport so he didn’t have much choice either. And talking about choices, his was a really difficult one. He had arrived to the city fairly recently but was able to vote because he had registered his ID in a polling station near his knew home.
Juan lived a few blocks away from Marina but was only learning about the diversity in the district. He had grown in another kind of town, where people were less open and much more predictable in their voting ways. His parents had always voted for exactly the same party since they could remember but he didn’t want to be like that. He wanted to be the one of the few people that voted after thoroughly reading every single one of the proposals of every candidate.
Some of them promised better transport, others better health other more security and so on. They seemed to be agreeing on several things but the truth was, when reading between the lines, that the same things meant different ways to get there for each candidate. One of them thought better transport was just having more buses and another thought it was all about the subway. Some declared security depended on education; other announced they would increase the number of cops in every part of the city. Two offered more hospitals, others more housing for the poor and one of them, funny enough, offered to reform the whole administrative division of the city to make it more realistic.
It was a hard decision to make for Juan as this one was the first time he voted in the city and he planned to stay there long after he finished his studies. After all, this city offered more work opportunities and a lifestyle with more options than any other towns in the country. Yeah, of course everything was globalized now and things where changing even in the most traditional towns, but he felt that this city had a potential, had the capacity to be so much more than it was and he wanted to be a participant in that new era for the city.
So when he went to cast his vote that morning, he decided to vote for the one candidate that had convinced him in most issues. He knew the man wasn’t going to win, if the polls were right, but he felt at ease thinking he had spoken his mind and had made the right choice, staying true to what he thought the city should be all about.