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Governments and businesses are interrelated. We hear executives of both large multinational corporations and small businesses explain how overregulation affects their industries. We also hear from groups such as labor unions, NGOs and regional organizations discuss the impact of governmental decisions on their respective programs, issues and stakeholders. No matter what, government has, does and will always influence our businesses and organizations.
We all have our own thoughts about the role of government at the federal, state and local levels. Although many of us become excited when we head to the polls to vote for president or governor, we often fail to realize the direct impact our local government has on lives. So why is local government (i.e., city, county, township and parish) important to you and me? Because your voice directly impacts local issues and policy.
Location, Location, Location
Local government should be important to each of us because it takes care of our local issues. The federal and state governments don’t necessarily have the time or capacity to listen to the complaints of the residents of a small town or city that has failing road conditions or sewer systems or any other neighborhood-related problem. Local government manages those services that are nearest to your day to day life – water, roads, public safety, parking and so much more.
Your Voice = The Voice
Although we can pack our bags and testify before Congress and state legislature, it’s much easier (and more impactful) to give your opinions before county or city government. Local government interaction means you can directly transform a policy in the making. Plus, participating in your local government makes sure issues that matter to you will be heard. As stated earlier, local government takes responsibility for the services and departments that directly touch you, like police and fire departments, neighborhoods, parks and recreation, and public works. Attending city council or committee meetings ensures your opinions on these many issues are taken into consideration.
It’s important to also note that the job of a local government official (elected and non-elected) has become more complicated over the years. It isn’t easy! The policies and programs of our local government impact not only our personal lives, but that of tourists, businesses and even animals. Government officials face complex issues requiring them to have special skills and understanding. Additionally, they are dealing with the rapid growth of their communities, the rising cost of living, increasing damage to the city’s infrastructure, and of course, a daunting budget to balance.
Above all, the role of the local government is to guarantee that our essential services are provided. When local policymakers see a budget shortfall, it means it’s time to become creative and identify ways to make sure that public services are delivered, especially those necessary to public safety.
What are your experiences with local government?