Ann Silver: Register, educate and vote in this important election year (Voices)

Ann Silver is CEO of the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce.

Ann Silver is CEO of the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce.

Elections are heading our way and whether or not we intend to vote, haven’t yet registered, or intend to sit-out this important responsibility, the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce is concerned that an education in civics is an important course of study.

“Civics” may be a term from past generations, but a working knowledge of civics is critical when addressing some of the biggest hurdles we have in our community. How many people can define the three branches of government, cite what ward they live in or who’s running in the local primaries?

Knowledge and information are powerful tools, yet many are ill-equipped to evaluate our potential leaders, to take the time to research what they stand for, or fully vet the policies the many candidates for offices are prepared to challenge?

An elemental course in civics is what the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce intends to provide in collaboration with the National Judicial College (a significant national institution based on the UNR campus) to ensure our community has access to civic-oriented information, that which is essential to the viability and sustainability of our nation. As we watch the devastating events unfolding in Ukraine and wonder how Russia’s president can unilaterally cancel a free press, and radio and television news, we’re reminded of the importance of our governing constitution and what it means to live in this country.

Most Americans take for granted the privileges and benefits they have, and while there are still too many who struggle to find living wages, access to health insurance, affordable workforce housing, and needed social services, residents can engage in public dialogue with our elected leaders, march or assemble for various causes, and able to submit letters to editors announcing or denouncing virtually any topic. A class in civics will teach us of the perils of verbally assaulting a governor and his wife with racist and profane epithets or promulgating unfounded rhetoric that weakens our sense of community and teaches children that boundaries of decency no longer exist.

Civil dialogue is now a rarity when it comes to differing opinions and polls show that Americans have less faith than ever before in the institutions erected to serve them. The Chamber and the NJC will offer a course in civics with the hope that individuals will participate and acquire a better understanding of the basic components of a civil society: collaboration and cooperation, engagement in the community, skill-building, and tolerance for diverse points of view.

We will all be better off when educated voters, consumers, and businesses get a refresher on our democratic principles and our future as a free country.

“Commerce Matters” is a monthly Voices column authored by Ann Silver, CEO of the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce. Reach her at


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment