The race for President takes up a huge amount of the attention in the news media, with races for the national legislature shortly behind that. But think about this for a minute: How often do you actually interact with the federal government? I would bet not very much at all. State government is closer to your life, but for most people the government that impacts your life the most is local government.
This is not to say that federal policy does not matter. It most certainly does. But on a day-to-day basis, local government matters much more to the average person. It is local government that maintains parks, collects trash, provides police and fire protection, maintains local streets and roads, resolves fence line disputes, sets land use policy with planning and zoning laws, and manages local public schools.
Every one of us drives on local streets every day, and even those who do not have a car need to have items delivered to the store. Land use policy controls where you are permitted to live, work and shop, and also serves as protection against things that may harm you – such as the hypothetical pig farm next to a residential neighborhood. We hear a lot at the federal level about police reform, but that is almost exclusively a function of local government. That is your mayor, your city and county councils, and your sheriff.
Another area of importance is school board elections. I have seen these get highly contentious, but most of the time they are not at the front of most voters’ minds. But few things are more important to parents that how local schools are run and what is being taught there. Do you know who your school board candidates are and what policies they support? Do you know what the issues are?
Most importantly, your vote matters far more in the race for local government offices than in federal elections. A local government election may be won by a margin as small as a couple hundred votes – or in some recent cases, less than ten votes. Your local officials are much more accessible than your Congressman or Senator, and certainly more so than the President. Not only does local government matter more to your life, but you can have an impact on local elections and local policy far more than federal policy.
By all means, vote for your candidate of choice to be President, but do not forget that on a day-to-day basis your local government is much more important to your life than anything Donald Trump or Joe Biden will do as President. Learn who your candidates are and where they stand.