By Mike Wilcox
In some ways the Nov. 8 vote is more important than a presidential election. There are so many local candidates and issues on the ballot. To me, not participating in our elective process is akin to not paying your taxes. It is the right thing to do if we are to have a democratic form of government.
Yet half of registered voters in any given district won’t. Many feel their vote won’t count. That’s not true. Here are five reasons you should:
1) Local government is where the action is that affects you. They make decisions that have to do with your community’s growth, schools, parks, etc. Your local government takes a good share of the tax pie and makes decisions that directly impact you. Why not have a say by voting for those candidates who share your values?
- You can make a huge difference. Many local elections are decided by the thinnest margins. Over recent years, many of our representatives have been elected by 1, 2 or 4 votes. By participating and encouraging family and friends to get to the polls, your elected officials will have to be responsive to your community’s needs.
- Local governments lead much more than the feds do. Most changes in our country occur from the ground up. Local actions and laws often influence those at the higher level. Federal government gets involved only after action has been taken at the local level. By voting in local elections and holding your representatives accountable, you can help create changes you want at the federal level too.
- Issues you are passionate about can be put forth for a vote at the local level. If local officials are not acting on a matter important to you and other voters, you can gather signatures; if you get enough, it will appear on the local ballot. But you first must become a registered voter, then it is important to vote in local elections. Becoming part of the process makes our democracy run smoothly.
- A cool thing about local elections is you can speak directly to those running. Local candidates appear at all sorts of events and coffee talks. If you want to bend an ear of a local politician it is easy to do. In fact, most would love to exchange ideas with you.
Getting involved with our local communities is important, but even more is voting in elections. Stop thinking your vote won’t count. That’s a cop out. Elected representatives, for this most part, are happy to hear from you and will even shape policy from what you have to say.
Those in political office are elected to serve us. They work for us. Sometimes politicians fail to realize this. By voting and getting involved we can make sure they don’t forget.