He was only 5 years old when he lost his life.
Stepping out their front door, Eli was tightly holding on to his Mom’s hand, as they began to cross the street. When suddenly, a speeding car came zipping around the corner, hitting them straight on.
Eli’s Mom, Sara, survived the impact with only a few cuts, yet Eli wasn’t so fortunate. He died instantly from the impact of the vehicle.
It was this tragic turn of events, that motivated Sara to learn how to get involved in local government. After doing some research, she found that getting hit by a car is the third leading cause of death, for children between 5-9 years old.
Sara decided to create a petition for speed bumps in her neighborhood. Her story motivated the city to promptly install several speed bumps along the road.
Perhaps you're concerned about safety matters like Sara was, or maybe you just want to know how to be a part of things. Whatever your reasons are, participating in your local government, is a great way to support your community. Read on to learn how easy it is to start playing a role in your local government.
How to Get Involved in Local Government
Before you start exploring new ways to participate in local government, make sure you're being a responsible voter. If you’re not already registered to vote, go ahead and do so today.
For those who are already registered, make sure your information is up to date. If you’ve moved, or changed your voting party, complete a voter registration renewal.
Having your updated voting information will give you the power to take immediate action. While many people take pride in voting for the next president, only a few take the time to participate in local issues.
Studies show that only 1 out of every 5 eligible voters will attend local elections. That means the voice of your city is going unheard. While it may seem like a small step to take, be present at all local voting opportunities.
Attending Council Meetings
A city council meeting is one of the best ways for you to break into local government, and stay involved. Different cities may have different names for their city council gatherings. Here are a few of the types of meetings you should be looking for.
Learn about Your Elected Officials
Do you know who all of the elected officials are in your local government? It's the local officials who will be making decisions that affect your everyday life.
Issues like fair governmental policies, school district decisions, public health concerns, are all good reasons to reach out for help. If you're not sure who's in charge, don't worry, it only takes a few minutes to learn who your elected officials are.
Personalize with a Phone Call
Now that you know who the elected officials are, you should start reaching out. Make sure you focus your energy on making phone calls, instead of communicating with emails. You’re more likely to get the response, and answers you need, with a personalized phone call.
If you really want to make a powerful statement, arrange for a planned group call. This means scheduling a time, with friends, where you will all call the office at the same times. The overflow of calls coming in, regarding the same issue, will create the attention your issue needs.
What to Say to Elected Officials
There’s a lot of reasons that could lead you to be making this phone call. Maybe you have a specific concern on your mind, or you just want to let the official know the things you’re expecting them to address. Either way, a preplanned statement, will help you get all of your thoughts across, without getting lost along the way.
When you call, you’re going to be speaking to an office staff member, not directly to the elected official. Start by introducing yourself as a constituent.
Then continue on by explaining what your concerns are, and what expectations you have as a voter. If you want a reply, let the person who answers the phone know. Simply tell them that you would like to place a request for a response.
You can also use this phone call opportunity as a time to ask any questions you might have. The office staff will have a wealth of information and will be able to answer almost any general question you may have.
Have All of the Facts
If you plan on presenting an argument over the phone, at a local meeting, or directly to an official, you’ll need to gather all of your facts.
There’s nothing worse than trying to plead your case with outdated, or inaccurate facts. Instead, create an entire page, or “fact sheet”, that contains all of the information you’ve researched, and found to be true.
You can use your fact sheet as a point of reference during your discussion, and as a visual aid for in-person meetings. Handing your elected official their very own copy of the “fact sheet” will help them digest the information you’re giving them.
Starting a Website
Now that you know more about how to get involved in local government, it’s time to take action. You might want to consider, starting a website, to inform other locals about the issues that are of importance.
If you don’t know anything about starting a website, don’t worry. Weebly believes that everyone should have the tools they need to make their ideas a reality.
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