Everywhere you turn, it’s clear: voting season is upon us. With so much going on in the political landscape, this November’s elections carry significant weight and importance—especially for women and entrepreneurs. For example, Philadelphia will see a political milestone this year as voters will choose between two female candidates to elect their first woman into Congress!
This month, we wanted to know what issues and considerations are most important to you—and you told us! Read on to see what members from across the nation said.
And remember: the 2018 midterm elections are on Tuesday, November 6—don’t forget to vote!
Our NAWBO respondents:
Sandra Clitter, Your Tech Tamer, LLC, NAWBO Philadelphia Chapter
Megan Souza, Megan’s Organic Market, NAWBO Central Coast California Chapter
Olalah Njenga, Yellowwood Group, President-Elect, NAWBO Raleigh Chapter
Mary Pat Wesche, Forum Tax & Accounting Services, LLC, NAWBO Chicago Chapter
Mazda T. Miles, Perfection Events, Inc., NAWBO Philadelphia Chapter
What business issues do you care most about in this election and why?
Sandra: The two “hot” issues for my business are (there’s nothing new or surprising here) the complexity of the tax code and other regulatory issues, and the affordability of health insurance for myself and employees. While the new tax code may have a favorable effect on the bottom-line dollars and cents of taxes paid for business, it is my perception (we will see if it becomes reality when filing for 2017) that nothing was done to make things SIMPLER. In fact, in reviewing the new IRS information, it seems even MORE complicated to file your returns. As for employment reporting requirements and various state and local filing requirements, well, the issues are too numerous and too location specific to begin to enumerate here. Suffice it to say that all three of these issues are barriers to growth for most small- to mid-size companies (myself and clients). The cost of compliance, and the fear that you are actually NOT in compliance, strike fear in many an entrepreneur.
Megan: My company cultivates and retails cannabis. Cannabis has become the most heavily regulated industry so every election carries significant potential impact for my business. This November, many California cities and counties have a Cannabis Business Tax on the ballot. My company needs these tax measures to pass in order to access local licensing, but we need them to be written in a way that won’t cripple the industry. My company also needs forward-thinking elected officials who understand the complex dynamics of the cannabis industry and how best to support it to maximize social benefit. Because of this, I’m campaigning for several cannabis-friendly candidates for local offices.
Olalah: There are four forces that impact the small business economy—workforce, capitalization, organization and compliance. Depending on who is in office, changes in these forces can either catapult or cripple a small business. I’m paying attention to which of the candidates have solutions to strengthen the educational initiatives that ensure tomorrow’s workforce is equipped today, promote easier access to micro-lending sources that can fund short-term business goals, make managing a business simpler by eliminating extraneous processes and abolish cumbersome regulations that discourage growth.
Mary Pat: Given that I live in Illinois, I’m very concerned about the fiscal health of our state and both income and property tax issues. We need to strengthen our state’s finances so that we can keep and attract businesses in Illinois. On the federal level, I want to make sure we are friendly to small businesses while not allowing the deficit to get out of control. I worry about the impact on the next generation.
Mazda: The most pressing issues for me as a business owner are taxation (rules, deductions, policies) for small business diversity initiatives and set asides for government contracting. As an S-Corp, I reap the benefits of being a pass-through entity, but I am also challenged with doing most of my business development through relationship building and networking. This means that my marketing dollars are spent on coffee and lunch dates vs. print ads. The tax policies surrounding these deductions directly affect my bottom line in a pretty significant way. As a woman, minority-owned business enterprise, subcontracting opportunities have given me the opportunity to grow my business without the stringent reporting requirements that can often burden a small business. A continued commitment to diversity is important to me and to many other businesses like mine to continue our growth trajectory.
How do you balance your personal and business considerations in voting for candidates?
Sandra: That’s a tough one. I describe myself as “solidly purple” (many people have no idea what I mean by that) because I believe in protecting people and social rights, but I also want reasonable fiscal controls, which don’t bankrupt those trying to make a living or get ahead. It is a tough balance, but as a businessperson (in addition to just being a person), I care about the well-being of those human beings I interact with, so I don’t want to see the social angle ignored, or worse still, ignored at all cost. To say that I am torn at times is an understatement, but that has been true for the 20 years that I have owned my business…it is nothing new, although at times the “pain” is more acute than at other times.
Megan: This is so tough because sometimes there is conflict. Ultimately, I make my decision based on personal considerations. I see myself as primarily a citizen and secondarily a business owner.
Olalah: As a women business owner, I don’t believe that it’s possible to balance personal and business considerations in voting for candidates. Too often, women business owners are frustrated by having to choose between their bodies and their balance sheets during elections. I believe that the pink wave we are seeing with the record number of women seeking office is a response to that frustration. With more women in office, new perspectives will bring forth fresh approaches to help women strike that critical personal and business balance.
Mary Pat: My personal and business values are really pretty well aligned so I don’t feel like I have a lot of tough decisions to make. I tend to vote with both social and fiscal considerations in mind.
Mazda: While I am a business owner, I am a person first. I am a woman first. So, when I’m considering candidates, I am always considering how their advocating on my behalf will affect me and those who work with and for me, personally. The success of business and the success of people are inextricably linked, in my opinion—good business considers people both first and finally. So, I definitely consider all of the business implications (I want to make the most money and be the most profitable, just like any other business owner), but I bookend my considerations with how it will affect people.
Why are you personally proud to vote this November?
Sandra: I will have the privilege of voting in the first election this November, which will send a woman to Congress from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Believe it or not, it is 2018, and the entire state of Pennsylvania does not have a woman in Congress. That WILL CHANGE on November 6th. No, I’m not clairvoyant, and I don’t hold any particular insight into the election results, but my district has a woman running for Representative on BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE, so no matter what, my little corner of Pennsylvania WILL BE REPRESENTED BY A WOMAN in 2019. It’s about darned time, and may the best woman win! As an added bonus, my district had been considered one of the most gerrymandered in the nation (Google “Goofy kicking Donald Duck” and see what appears). Early this year, we were ‘un-gerrymandered,’ so on top of voting for a woman to go to Congress, I’m also in a totally new district. It’s exciting all the way around.
Megan: I’m proud to vote for the candidates I’ve been campaigning for—their win is a win for me too!
Olalah: I realize that one single vote is unlikely to change the outcome of an election. But my one vote, coupled with hundreds of thousands of others, can. I am proud to vote because I know that in doing so I am exercising my right to influence my own future. That is powerful. To me, voting is the highest expression of what it is to be an American.
Mary Pat: My grandparents were immigrants from Ireland, and they worked hard to become citizens so they could vote. My grandfather in particular thought voting was a huge privilege, and he instilled that in all of his eight children. I think of him every time I go into the voting booth!
Mazda: Every year, I am personally proud to vote because I am an African-American woman of immigrant descent. I remember that there was a time when I would not be allowed to vote in this country based on the color of my skin, and that there was a time when I would not be allowed to vote in this country based on my gender. I am also reminded that my grandfather endured the immigration process for his entire family of nine. And that my mother served 30-plus years in the U.S. Air Force, and only after 20 years of faithful service was she granted her citizenship. I take great pride in casting my vote at every level. And this November, I am extremely excited to be a part of history making here in Pennsylvania, as we elect the first woman into Congress from our state! I’m ecstatic at how far we’ve come, while also gravely aware that we have so much more to achieve.