Riderwood Retirement Community’s Nearly 3,000 Residents to Vote Nov. 6 | People
Nearly 3,000 residents of Riderwood retirement community will vote November 6 in two separate county voting precincts located at their campus in Silver Spring, MD.
Half of Riderwood’s 120-acre campus is located in Montgomery County and half is located in Prince George’s County. Residents will vote in either of the county precincts depending on where they actually live at Riderwood.
As the November 6 General Election nears, Riderwood retirement community in Silver Spring, MD, is a hotspot for politically passionate people, their passion outweighed only by their savvy.
Many of Riderwood’s residents belong to one of two resident-run political groups on campus—one for Democrats and one for Republicans. And though these two groups may hold different political opinions, they both serve as places for freedom of expression.
Society has always dictated that there should be a severe line between the two political parties, but “politics doesn’t have to be a dividing force between people,” says Dianne Boyer, president of the on-campus Republican group.
The Democratic group was formed by Kitty Shoap, the current president, when she first moved to Riderwood nine years ago. The group quickly attracted like-minded people, like Ruth Wolf and Ruth Davis. Because the group has open and informal membership, it’s difficult to determine just how many people participate. Sometimes up to 75 people show up at a meeting.
“It all depends on who the speaker is and what issue is being presented,” says Ruth Wolf, former president and current treasurer.
Ruth Davis has been involved with the group since she first moved to Riderwood. She served for eight years as an aide to Congresswoman Gladys Noon Spellman in the 1970s, and she sees that as the highlight of her career. For the group, she’s served as secretary and program coordinator.
The Democratic group has welcomed speakers from the Wilderness Society and Chesapeake Bay Foundation; speakers on health care and the complexities of running a campaign; as well as senators, delegates, and congressmen and women. They also host forums that enable people to present their stand on important issues.
“Our main focus has always been our speakers,” says Ruth Davis.
The two Ruths, who have been best friends for more than 50 years, both believe that it’s important for people to vote and to vote knowledgably, and the groups allow people to have a place where they can keep up with current issues.
Dianne and Bill Boyer formed the Republican group as a place to not only discuss current political issues but also to question those issues and discuss outcomes of legislation. The Boyers feel so passionately about politics that Bill is an election judge and Dianne volunteers to help elections run smoothly.
“The whole purpose of the group is to honor the large number of Republicans on campus and to openly discuss topics and what’s wrong or untrue,” says Dianne.
The group begins each monthly meeting by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Throughout discussion, they try to offer both points of view, especially on controversial issues. “We try to talk about the issues and what makes people feel the way they do about them, and though that can be challenging, it’s a safe forum,” says Dianne.
The group encourages people to ask questions and consider their own thoughts and feelings before voting on issues. “People have a responsibility to do their due diligence,” Bill says, “research and question, research and question—it’s essential.”
Whereas the Democratic group focuses mainly on speakers, the Republican group focuses more on discussions. The forums allow a space for self-expression, no matter what the opinion. Both the Boyers feel the Riderwood campus is a place for residents to coexist politically, and the two political groups are good places for deep listening.
Both groups meet from September through May, both hold monthly meetings with either speakers or discussions around the issues, and both have open meetings and encourage members from the other party to join in.