Friday, March 18, 2011

Think local if you want to make a real difference.

A lot of water cooler talk these days is centered around political and economic issues. Things like taxes and spending, the high cost of living, and schools all get a lot of attention.

Usually, this kind of talk has to do with national politics or maybe what's going on at the state level. We have to admit, we talk a lot about these things every day, too.

But we thought we'd pause for a moment to talk about the importance of local politics to what happens in daily life.

You might not hear about it on the nightly news, but what happens at the local level has a profound effect on you. Right now, people right down the street from your house are making decisions about things like how much property taxes you'll have to pay next year, how adequately your home will be protected by police and fire service, how your kids will be educated, and whether potholes in your street will be repaired. In many cases, they're responsible for the water you drink, the books you take out from the library, and the cleanliness of the local restaurant where you're eating dinner tonight.

The way in which these decisions are made depends on the crop of local leaders selected each year in municipal elections. And, if you live in a community with a town form of government, those elections are probably happening sometime in the next few weeks. (Cities are on a different schedule.)

So, take a few minutes and get informed about what’s happening locally. Get to know who's running for office, know what they stand for, and know what it is they want to do when they get there. Even more importantly, find our when your local election is happening and get out to vote in it.

And, if you're really interested in making a difference, think about getting involved yourself. It's still not too late to take out papers for office in some communities, whether it's for selectman or school committee. If running for office isn't your style, there are also many opportunities to serve on appointed boards in your community. Most likely, town officials would love to have you get involved.

Want to get involved but don't know where to start? Click here for a list of contact information for city and town halls across the state, including Web addresses and e-mails for town clerks.

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