By in Politics

Don't Ignore Your Local Government

Few people I know think much about at the local level. Many people vote blindly for judges, city counsel, county boards, and state house members, not even recognizing the names on the ballot or knowing anything at all about their agendas, beliefs, or past actions in government. Yet all those people have power over you.

They may determine such things as whether you can water a lawn and when, and how you will wash your car. They determine the extra and you must pay and follow before you replace your water heater or furnace system or let your kids build a tree house. They determine how fast you can drive, what your child will study in school, how many pets you can have, whether you can build anything on that property you bought as an investment or to build your retirement home on.

They determine how much tax you will pay, the condition of your roads, how many hours your library can stay open, and how local businesses can operate. You may not find out the extent of their power and how it affects your life until they tell you that you can't do something you wanted to do and seemed reasonable to do because it would violate some regulation they made. You may even find they can take your land away from you without paying you what it's worth.

The people you see at the front of this room have, with two exceptions, decided that certain people may not plant crops or build houses on their land because they have not yet done it. This prohibition will stay in effect until some new government agency or plan is in place to control water use -- even of those who have their own wells in an area that has experienced no problems with the water table. The unlucky ones in this situation have seen their land values drop by thousands of dollars an acre because no one who wants to buy their land will want to be prevented from using it to plant or build. People who own thousands of acres are being treated he same way as those who own only five or ten.

It pays to pay attention to city and county . Go to a few meetings and see how your elected officials behave and what they have in mind. You might be surprised enough to start finding and supporting different candidates.

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GemstonePink wrote on February 25, 2015, 3:26 PM

Our Chicago suburb is one of the smaller ones, and we make sure we are aware of who is running for office and what is going on here that affects us.

BrenndaMarie wrote on February 25, 2015, 3:49 PM

Many people do not seem to care about it these days. They jut vote blindly.

MegL wrote on February 25, 2015, 4:28 PM

That sounds crazy, especially for people's land or homes to drop in value with no compensation!

wolfgirl569 wrote on February 25, 2015, 4:48 PM

Many more people need to get involved. Government is trying to take many rights and freedoms away anymore

BeadDoodler wrote on February 25, 2015, 8:13 PM

This has always been true, but it seems today the majority of politicians on every level are only interested in lining their own pockets. We have a voice. Lets use it.

valmnz wrote on February 25, 2015, 8:52 PM

Your political system quite different from ours here in New Zealand. We've just recently had to elect a new mayor in our city and the turn out at pre election meeting s was really very good for a change.

BarbRad wrote on February 25, 2015, 10:08 PM

Good for you.

BarbRad wrote on February 25, 2015, 10:09 PM

And then when they need to so something that they thought was a slam dunk, they learn the ugly truth about why they should have paid attention.

BarbRad wrote on February 25, 2015, 10:11 PM

Who ever said politician were reasonable or sane. We had a drought. About ten wells in one end of the water basin went dry for a while. So the board was urged by those households to "do something." Never mind that only one area was impacted and that every other part of this very large basin has plenty of water. One size has to fit all.

BarbRad wrote on February 25, 2015, 10:13 PM

It's a shame. They make the meetings at a time when hardworking people can't attend them without getting off work (at least at the county level) and then wait as long as possible to have public comment.

BarbRad wrote on February 25, 2015, 10:16 PM

That's the only solution. Get to know what these people want to do, watch them like hawks, and let them know what you think. Support the ones who are worth keeping and the opponents of those who aren't. Work for them and donate to their campaigns. We did manage to get one city councilman replaced this time around (second try) and two supervisors whom we couldn't vote for, but could help financially and by campaigning for them. They voted right on this issue.

BarbRad wrote on February 25, 2015, 10:17 PM

It's good when people get involved. Maybe people are waking up.

wolfgirl569 wrote on February 25, 2015, 10:34 PM

A lot of that is deliberate.

Soonerdad3 wrote on February 25, 2015, 10:37 PM

It does pay to be more attentive to those who have power over you, it is not just the federal government that can make your life miserable.

morilla wrote on February 26, 2015, 6:55 PM

All politics are 'local,' even when voting in Federal elections. Some 'experts' claim that such a parochial view will just not do in this day and age. However, in the end, it always comes down to how it impacts you and your neighbors. In theory, the individual you are voting for/against comes from that 'neighborhood.' In reality, they may be someone who isn't originally a 'local' and have 'different' ideas, at least that's the problem we have around here these days. Too many transplants with a different set of values and a certain disdain for the real 'locals.'

BarbRad wrote on February 27, 2015, 12:07 AM

Yet most people ignore all but federal elections.

BarbRad wrote on February 27, 2015, 12:09 AM

That i exactly the problem we have here. People move here from Los Angeles or the Bay Area because they can't afford to live there anymore or they want more space, and then they proceed to try to make us into what they just left.

BarbRad wrote on February 27, 2015, 12:10 AM

You're right. Some of our county supervisors would get rid of public comment completely if they could get by with it.

morilla wrote on February 27, 2015, 1:27 AM

I had a conversation with a gal a few years ago who said she'd never been to this and that. I asked her why since practically everyone growing up here had been, usually multiple times, to each of those destinations. She said she'd only been here 7 years. I pointed out that was a long time to be here and not have been to any of those places, particularly since they were so close. She said she just couldn't get excited about it; but, she wished we had "X," "Y," and "Z" stores to visit. I noted I was glad we didn't since it would only increase the pressure on the few local owners, not to mention draw even more people in. Her response?

I hear that a lot from people like you. I asked her if she meant people who'd been here all or most of their lives. She said: "Yes." The conversation started to dry up real quick.

LilyDay wrote on February 27, 2015, 3:44 PM

I pay fairly close attention to our local government here. There are a few things in particular that I am keeping an eye on, because what is decided will make a difference as to what I do and when.

BarbRad wrote on February 28, 2015, 1:17 AM

That's right. If you don't keep an eye on them, they can easily take advantage of that.