A new Collin County collaborative effort aims to increase voter turnout

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In hopes to increase voter participation, the Collin County Business Alliance has partnered with local chambers to bring forth a cooperative effort called CollinCountyVotes to educate business leaders and residents about local elections.

Through this effort, the CCBA has created video candidate profiles in which mayoral, city council and Collin College board of trustees candidates provide information about themselves and their vision for the city or college. The CCBA with some of the chambers will also be hosting forums, providing real-time updates on Twitter via @CCBATexas and the hashtag #CollinCountyVotes.

“The May 6 elections will have a substantial impact on residents and businesses,” CCBA chairman Sanjiv Yajnik said. “The CCBA is pleased to partner with chambers of commerce across the county to create opportunities for voters to inform themselves about issues and candidates. We encourage voters to meet the candidates at the local forums and participate in these important elections.”

The initiative’s website, www.collincountyvotes.com, went live last week and provides information about each city’s election as well as important election dates.

The first candidate forum will be held for the Plano mayoral candidates April 13 at the Capital One Conference Center in Plano.

“Since its inception, the [CCBA] has served as a catalyst to help the public and private sectors address key issues impacting our county, such as water, transportation and education,” Yajnik said.

Plano Chamber of Commerce President Jamee Jolly said many of decisions being made at the local level have the greatest impact on residents.

“It’s funny how many people turnout for the presidential election, but really when you think about your day-to-day life—how you run your business and how you run your household—is mostly impacted by local elections,” Jolly said.

The local impact is the reason why local chambers should educate businesses and residents about upcoming elections, Frisco Chamber of Commerce President Tony Felker said.

Felker said if the collaborative effort between CCBA and the chambers is successful at the local level, he expects to see this effort continue across county and state elections.

“A lot of this effort is just to test things out and work with digital media, social media and see how working together we can hopefully move the needle in terms of getting people out to vote,” Felker said.

McKinney Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Hermes said each chamber does things differently but the cooperation with CCBA will bring a more cohesive plan across Collin County.

“Anytime you can leverage your resources and cross-promote something as important as voting, we hope to see higher number of voters,” she said.

In the last Plano City Council election in May 2015 the voter turnout ranged from 3 percent to 6 percent. The last McKinney City Council election also held in May 2015, the voter turnout ranged from 5 percent to 7 percent. A special election to fill a vacancy on Frisco City Council held on Feb. 18 and a runoff on March 25 both had a voter turnout of about 5 percent.

Hermes said the collaboration with CCBA will hopefully increase the voter turnout for each city.

“It’s our goal to help educate, inform and motivate our community to have a voice and elect leaders who make decisions that will impact our community for years to come,” Hermes said.

CollinCountyVotes also includes the Allen-Fairview Chamber of Commerce and the Richardson Chamber of Commerce.

Plano Candidate Forum

$10 per person. Registration deadline is April 7.

11 a.m.-1 p.m., April 13

Capital One Conference Center, 8036 Dominion Parkway, Plano

Frisco Candidate Forum

No registration needed.

6:30-8:30 p.m., April 17

Grace Church, 8440 Grace St., Frisco

McKinney Candidate Forum

$15 person. Registration deadline is April 17.

7:30-9 a.m.

Eldorado Country Club, 2604 Country Club Dr., McKinney

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