With another election just completed a little more than a week ago, discussion about politics and government in America and in Powell is still going strong — and aside from increased division and acrimony in our political discourse, that’s a good thing.
One of the few good things to come out of this era of hyper-partisanship in the United States is the fact that more people are more interested in what is happening in politics and government in our country. And with the United States being a republic and also a representative democracy, that in itself is a good thing, as good government in such a system is built on the involvement of its citizens.
However, there is more that we can do, especially when it comes to being more informed and making more informed decisions.
The election may be over, but your role as a voter doesn’t end there. It’s now time to track what your newly chosen local, state and national officials are doing.
Election season tends to bring the easiest opportunities to get informed about candidates. Before the primary, for instance, Powell Economic Partnership hosted an August event at Washington Park that drew the vast majority of state and local candidates. Some contenders may have even come knocking on your door to explain what they stand for.
But, even with the campaign season at an end, there are continuing opportunities to learn more about those who will be leading our state, our county and our city. For example, you can always reach out to your elected officials with your questions, concerns or input, as most of our representatives are only a quick email or phone call away. Their contact information periodically appears on this page.
Another way to become more informed and more involved is to attend city council and county commission meetings. While much of the focus in our political discourse is on state and national happenings, the decisions of local government often affect us more than those made in Cheyenne or Washington, D.C.
Local government bodies make decisions about mill levies that determine how much our property taxes will be. City council ordinances can determine whether or not Powell residents can talk on the phone while driving through town (by the way, they cannot, as the city council voted to ban it a year ago), how city residents must maintain their yard, or even what kind of pets a resident can own.
Many times, we who cover local government are often surprised by the relatively low attendance at meetings of the city council or the county commission. However, there are few ways to become involved and better informed than to attend those meetings.
One newspaper in Nebraska ends each of its meeting previews with these words: “Remember, government works best when citizens are informed and involved. Attending the public meetings of governmental bodies is an excellent way to accomplish that.”
We could not agree more.