We just finished with the most important national election in our lifetimes…since the last election…until the next election.
It’s bad enough that we have to listen to South Carolina candidates bash each other with millions upon millions of dollars in advertising, but because of the media market we’re in, we have to hear about how bad the folks in North Carolina and Georgia are, too.
We also heard about how the presidential candidates, no matter the party, will bring America to ruin.
Like you, I agree with a set of policy beliefs and disagree with another, but when everything is said and done, which area of government affects you or me or our neighbors on a daily basis?
Yes. Washington is important. I won’t disagree with that, but what hits us all is state and local government. It’s the actions at the Statehouse, at County Square, at City Hall, at the school district, and if you’re in the county outside of city limits, likely a special purpose district.
Before COVID-19 restricted occupancy in city council or committee meetings, I used to tell people that the attendance layout was something like this. On a regular council meeting night, we’ll have the mayor, the six council members, the city administrator, city clerk, and city attorney, the department heads representing economic development, business and development services, public works, recreation, police, fire, and finance, support personnel to back up the department heads, and maybe four members of the public.
In other words, we may have had 25 people in the meeting, and only four of them would be members of the public.
We need more public voices.
During this election cycle, there was a lot of messaging urging people to get out and vote, but what’s been completely overlooked is the importance of getting involved after the election.
Think about a dog chasing a car. If he catches it, what’s he going to do with it? Campaigning and voting is kind of like that.
You campaigned and you voted. After the election, what’s next?
That’s when the work happens, and that’s when people need to be equally involved.
That’s when all of those campaign promises are crafted into policy proposals. That’s when elected officials have to figure out how to implement those proposals, and they need to hear from everyone who was so vocal before the election, before the votes were ever cast.
While it’s important to reach out to elected officials at the national level, reach out to the ones at the state and local level even more. Those are the people who are your friends and neighbors and who are planning the future of your community.
The decisions they make will literally impact you where you live. You should have your voice heard at City Hall just like you did at the ballot box.
— Taft Matney serves in Seat 1 on Mauldin city Council. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.■