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Importance of voting, running for local offices

“I’ll see you in November,” is phrase coming up more and more in U.S. politics as election season comes around again. The U.S. presidential election is not the only race voters should be interested in. Every voter has an interest in state and local level governments, too.

Whitehouse.gov explained that “Powers not granted to the federal government are reserved for states and the people, which are divided between state and local governments.”

Not every aspect of American life is decided by federal positions.

Whitehouse continues, “Most Americans have more daily contact with their state and local governments than with federal governments.” While the national government might feel far away in Washington, D.C., local and state government are present in daily life to a closer extent.

Police departments, libraries, and schools, various licenses and fees, are all part of local and state governances and financing. Each state has its own constitution, and each local government gets to right its own ordinances and set local budgets.

State offices like attorney general, governor, and legislature, that being representatives and state congress, are all elected by citizen votes.

Local government comes in two forms; the county level, and individual towns, cities, and villages.

State constitutions draw the boarders for county lines, which effects school districts, property taxes, and fire protection districts. Municipal (towns, villages, cities) are built around densest population centers and are designated by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Municipal governments are usually responsible for local parks and recreation services, police and fire departments, small courts, local public transportations, and public works like street, sewer care, and snow removal.

Who runs and who gets elected directly effects citizen representation and government procedures.

Running and voting for local and state governments is a 10th Amendment right and exercise. With local governments how citizens can best make the changes they want to see in micro scales.

Make a habit of going to town hall and city council meetings. Learn what local officials are doing for the community, and express your own wants or concerns.

USA.gov has extensive information on common voting and election terms, congressional, state, and local elections, how to vote, sources on how to be a properly informed voter, voter registration, voting and elections laws and history.

Look for voter guides, booklets that provide information on the candidates and what the ballots are proposing. BallotReady.org offers voter guides by home address around the country.

Sample ballots are another good resource. Sample ballots have the same information as real ballots, and are good for telling you ahead of time what to research.

NPR ran an article on Oct. 17, 2019, “How to run for office.” In the article, NPR built a small guide on how to get into small office politics.

The most important thing is “that you care enough to run.” Wanting to help your community, wanting to make a change, is essential.

Learn how to lead, how to help your community. Ask a lot of questions about the basics and nuances of running and effectively working in the position.

Build a team. You should have experts and people you trust to help you get to the office, and make good decisions while in office.

Campaign and fundraise in person. Do not hide, but be a strong face people want to vote for. Reach as many people as you can. Never immediately assume you will win until you do.

Whether voting or running for state or local government, take it seriously. Know what you are running for, who or what you are voting for. Small government affects your community in a big way.

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