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Our view: Businesses must step up for census, voting

By   /   Thursday, September 17th, 2020  /   Comments Off on Our view: Businesses must step up for census, voting

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In this most unusual of years, corporations are being asked to do a lot. And this fall, there are two more things on the corporate agenda: the census and voting.

With a possible Sept. 30 deadline looming for in-person visits, we’re reminding business owners that the census matters when it comes to support for schools, social programs and much-needed infrastructure spending. Fortunately, extensive outreach has produced encouraging preliminary results.

But it is important for employees to know that they should not skip out on the census for 2020. The census also matters because a severe undercount could cost California seats in the House of Representatives, reducing the state’s clout when it comes to issues like funding for Vandenberg Air Force Base or Naval Base Ventura County.

In terms of voting, we are just a few weeks away from the beginning of the election season as California’s mail ballots are set to arrive early in October. And some of the best, nonpartisan thinking about the role of companies in encouraging people to exercise their right to vote comes from our own backyard.

Patagonia doesn’t hide the advocacy in its environmental politics, but it has joined with hundreds of other companies to encourage time off for voting via programs like Time to Vote. After leadership by Patagonia, Levi-Strauss and others, Time to Vote now counts Coca-Cola, Deloitte, Burton, The North Face, Visa, Nike, PayPal and others in providing time off for employees to vote and encouraging employees to participate in the election no matter their politics.

In pandemic times, getting paid time to vote doesn’t have to be for an in-person stop at the polling place. It could mean an hour or two to look over the ballot and make choices. And extra time to put it in the mail or locate a ballot drop box at a neighborhood center or school.

And speaking of elections, MIT Enterprise Forum Central Coast will present a unique look at technology and democracy at its Sept. 16 program at 6 p.m. Pacific Time. Find out more at www.mitcentralcoast.org.

IN MEMORIAM

It is a rare person who has both a winery and a courthouse that named after them. Royce Rutledge Lewellen, a longtime Santa Barbara County community leader who died Sept. 2 at age 89, is one of that very small group.

A retired Superior Court judge, he earned the respect of his colleagues and peers, and as current Judge James Herman put it, “he was humble and genuinely loved his fellow man.” In 1992, the courthouse complex in Santa Maria was named the Lewellen Justice Center in his honor.

Lewellen was active in civic live in Solvang and Santa Maria, a founder of the Community Bank of Santa Maria and a successful entrepreneur.

In 1996, he teamed up with viticulturist Louis Lucas to form Lucas & Lewellen. The team produced award-winning grapes and has two tasting rooms in Solvang. He also helped found the PCBA Foundation at Allan Hancock College.

Our condolences to his many friends and his family.

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