Municipal elections are already around the corner, and as usual, many people likely are looking to knock out an incumbent who they have deemed unable to meet the needs of the community. Usually they plan to do so by picking from one of the many names listed on the voting machine, sometimes holding their nose as they do so.
But there is another option: Add your own name to the list.
It might not be the most obvious answer, and it most definitely wouldn’t be easy, but campaigning to represent your city or school board in some manner offers an active way to step up in the community that involves more than complaining on Facebook.
Ever fewer people actually show up to be involved in their government. The reason we know that is we see it every day.
Empty seats at meetings often indicate people’s interest in dealing with topics. And not all of those topics are exciting to every resident. The exact language on a sign discouraging overnight parking downtown might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but they are topics that matter.
Everybody has an opinion, and complaining not only is too easy, it’s far less effective than taking action. Using those opinions as the basis for a campaign, seeing if they resonate with the rest of the community, means taking on a leadership role that allows a candidate to actively bring up concerns and push for changes.
But if you haven’t already been showing up to public government meetings, it will likely be difficult to jump in to the process. Even public officials and reporters who closely follow municipal events don’t always understand the many laws and ordinances cities have developed. To jump in without any background other than being frustrated by that pothole at the end of the neighborhood doesn’t necessarily make for a strong candidate.
Becoming a public official is not a small undertaking. It puts people in a place of taking blame for every little problem and inconvenience, no matter if it’s their fault or the fault of someone who came years before them.
But anyone who thinks they are capable of handling those responsibilities and stepping up to the plate should stop by their local city hall or school offices to pick up an application to put their name on the ballot.
Running for office might not result in any changes, but it’s more likely to result in something than hopelessly posting or complaining online.