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The Importance of Local Elections

Updated: Jan 23

Every 4 years the United States holds what seems like a never ending process to elect a President. The discussions around who will run for what is considered the highest office in the land often start as early as the end of the last election and there is an entire economy that services this laborious process.

The President often plays a central role in shaping and implementing domestic and foreign policies and much attention is given to the presidential election cycle. Presidential candidates, and candidates for all the other elected offices throughout the country, campaign on specific policy platforms, and the election outcome influences the direction of government policies. The President's agenda can have far-reaching effects on issues such as healthcare, the economy, education, and more. One of the most influential authorities the President has is to nominate federal judges, including Supreme Court justices. These appointments can have a lasting impact on the interpretation and enforcement of laws, as justices serve lifetime appointments.

The President is often seen as a symbolic figure representing the nation. The election of a President can have a profound impact on national identity, values, and the perception of the United States globally even though the president themselves cannot make laws and the President's ability - or willingness - to work with or influence Congress can determine the success or failure of legislative initiatives.

But symbolic or not, presidential elections in and of themselves actually have very little impact on our daily lives. Contrary to popular belief, the president doesn’t set gas prices, has very little direct impact on local economies or the stock market and they do not set international or domestic policies on their own. The president is a figurehead and is supposed to be representative of everyone in the country. 

Of course we know that the president can also be a polarizing figurehead and the attention paid to the elephant in the room often overwhelms the importance of participating in local elections, particularly city and county elections where the Mayor and their City Council Members, the sheriff and police chief and even the local School Board members are selected. Many times these positions of power are overlooked in the election process because its so difficult to break down where they stand on issues that are important to the communities they serve. The Mayor and the City Council Members have a great deal of sway in critical decisions that directly impact 

On the State level, the Governor is the most visible elected leader but state governments also hold elected officials like the Attorney General, the State Treasurer's Office, and many other state specific departments who really can impact how the state prioritizes issues. State Governors have a 6 year term so electing a governor for your state has a very    long lasting impact.

Some of the most important departments are the Department of Education who oversees K-12 education policies and funding, the Department of Transportation that manages state transportation infrastructure, including roads and public transit, the Department of Health and Human Services that addresses public health issues, Medicaid, and social services, the Department of Corrections who is responsible for state prisons and the correctional system,  the Department of Labor who handles labor-related issues, including workplace safety and regulations, the Public Safety Department who deals with law enforcement, emergency management, and public safety and the Housing and Urban Development Department that addresses housing and urban development issues.

All of these State Departments have elected officials that are running for these offices and they very often have new and more progressive candidates that absolutely have to be voted for in the primary elections in order to be on the official ballot that will place them in these important offices.

Primary elections are a crucial component of the electoral process in the United States. They are a mechanism through which political parties select their candidates for various offices, including presidential, gubernatorial, senatorial, and other positions. In a primary election, registered members of a political party vote to choose their preferred candidate from a list of individuals seeking the party's nomination for a specific office.

Primary elections are typically closed or open to registered party members, depending on the state's rules. In closed primaries, only registered members of the party can participate, while open primaries may allow voters regardless of party affiliation to participate.

The purpose of primaries allows parties to gauge the popularity and support for various candidates within their own ranks before the general election. It is a way for voters to express their preferences and for parties to choose candidates who can represent their values and policies. Primary elections serve as a critical step in the democratic process, allowing citizens to participate in the candidate selection process and shaping the choices available in the general election. 

Registering to vote is the first step to participating in these critical local elections and the important primary elections that will be the determining factor for who is actually on the ballot for November this year. Don’t waste a minute in starting to vet the candidates who are running for office!  You can register to vote by clicking the link below and it takes less than 2 minutes!


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