Originally published in The Metropolitan. Oct. 16, 2008.
If Metro student Sibel Baltaci has her way, she’ll be running for a seat in the House of Representatives in 2015. But before she launches her campaign, she has to cast her first vote as an American.
Baltaci, originally from Turkey, was nationalized on March 19, 2008. She registered to vote the same day.
“I’m excited to vote because I like this country now,” she said. “I share the culture, and I have this opportunity to have my voice heard. That’s the most stirring thing.”
Baltaci said her excitement was about voting in general, not necessarily that she gets to vote as an American for the first time.
“I’d be this excited if I was voting in Turkey,” she said.
It’s evident her passion for politics is as strong as her accent after a 30-minute conversation.
“I’m excited to see what happens after Nov. 4,” she said. “I hope bright days are ahead, not dark days.”
Baltaci said she was going to vote for Sen. Barack Obama, but she has become “disgusted” by how Obama has allowed his campaign to be as petty as former presidential races. “It’s all about ‘You hit me, I hit you, you started it first’ attacks,” she explained. “I expected change (from him).”
Baltaci said she is also concerned about Obama’s worldwide donations.
“I don’t know if he’s being supported by terrorists or not,” she said.
Baltaci acknowledged the great accomplishments of Obama’s campaign including exciting a large number of minorities and registering people to vote.
Senator John McCain would not make a good president, she said.
She is worried about both candidates’ foreign policies. And she thinks neither candidate can deliver on the “3,000” promises they’ve made on the trail.
“It’s like a Utopia,” she said about the candidates’ policies. “I want somebody to say something that will actually be done.”
She said the two biggest issues need to be health care and education. She said the problems are linked.
Baltaci is now looking at third party candidates like Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party. She said in Turkey, they have as many as a dozen parties. She thinks both countries could benefit from each other’s systems.
“I dream of a balance,” she said.
“With too many voices (in Turkey) there can be too much conflict,” she said. “But I dream, in my American life, where a third party is as loud as our two parties.”
When the time comes for her to run for office, Baltaci believes a third party will have evolved. And if one hasn’t she’ll consider helping it.
Baltaci said she took several months to decide whether or not she wanted to be a citizen after she was eligible to apply. But she decided the 2008 election was too important not to vote. And after dealing with the plights of being a single mother, Baltaci decided she wanted to run for office to help others.
You have to be a U.S. citizen for at least seven years before you can run for Congress.
“I see so many difficulties,” she said. “Welfare isn’t really fair. Our education system… I would like to represent actual changes, and I think only people who have experienced (these problems can fix them).”
Baltaci believes Americans don’t pay enough attention to politics, and this is mostly due to a struggling education system and that voting is voluntary. In Turkey, she said, voting is mandatory and people become knowledgeable about the issues.
One benefit, she said, of voting in Colorado is the “Blue Book” or the State Ballot Information Booklet produced by the state that outlines all of the ballot issues and the pros and cons of each.
“I love the Blue Book,” she smiled. “I know not many people really sit down and read it, but I am. I have to.”