So much of our public’s attention is focused on governmental issues on the federal level, whether supreme court cases, presidential races or congressional legislation efforts. The largest news media outlets being national, so much of what we hear in the news has to do with these bigger-picture issues that affect the United States of America more broadly. Nonetheless, every country is ultimately made up of individuals, so it’s important that individual people (and even just smaller communities of people in general) are cared for properly. And, at least when it comes to politics, that’s where local government comes in. So why exactly is local government so important?
First, local governments are responsible for making sure that the services their communities need and deserve are supplied. They make sure that courthouses are built, maintained and staffed. They ensure that schools are available and have all of the resources that they need. Services such as waste collection, registrar services and business licensing are managed by local governments. The local government is where you go to pay a ticket, transfer a vehicle or get a marriage license. Police departments and fire departments can also be provided and managed by the local governments in a particular area.
Local government also provides the governmental infrastructure for broader policies from the federal and state levels to be implemented on the community level. In other words, if a law is passed that applies to everyone, you can’t just put the burden of implementation on federal employees (who would have to manage it from a distance) but instead have to have people in place all over the country to make it a smooth process. Local governments make this possible.
Communities can also be enriched by special events and opportunities provided for by their local officials. Fireworks shows, petting zoos and other such events help families make memories in their cities and become more involved in their community. Parks and recreation is also an important aspect of local government, and this kind of service can greatly affect the quality of life for the residents in a community.
Finally, local governments also create an opportunity for those seeking a career in politics to start their careers. Certainly not all local government officials are elected, and not all those who are elected necessarily aspire to go to a higher level of government, but there are those who do. It is important for these individuals to learn skills and form relationships on the community level that will influence and develop them to be better senators, diplomats or even presidents later on.
In the words of Steven Rosenblum, it’s “only if we listen to each other, treat each other with respect, and continue to innovate” that “we can make the best small city in the country even better.” A good local government will do all of this and more. If you’ve been blessed by the efforts of your local officials, take some time to thank a public servant today for their hard work on your behalf.