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Local Government Works for Best Interest of Citizens

Lauren Cincotta, News Editor

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The 2016 election was one of the most divisive in the history of the United States. In the two years since the election, partisan politics in Washington D.C. has been a large part of how our country is run. After being swamped with headlines everyday about what some consider to be outlandish behavior in the White House, it is easy to forget about the leaders that are not covered every night on the news. The issues local governments deal with are just as important as the issues our national leaders face. Even though we may not see them in the spotlight the same way we see national figures, local leaders still have an impact on our everyday lives and are worthy of a vote in an election.

Democratic Party vs. Republican Party

Voter turnout is on a decline on a national scale. The only age group that has seen an increase in voters since the 2012 election is the millennial age group. Presidential elections often see more voters because people are more willing to vote for such a huge role in our government. Still, the responsibilities of local government are just as important to the lives of people living in our area. As stated in the Constitution, any powers not given to federal government are given to local governments. There is a surprising number of responsibilities given to the states that most people are not familiar with. Local leaders interact with the daily needs of citizens which include emergency services, school systems and town zoning ordinances (rules that determine where businesses can open in town) more often than members of a federal government. Another example of the power of town government is the recent actions of the West Springfield town council voting to override a veto placed by the mayor concerning legal retail marijuana stores in West Springfield. The town councilors voted to ban retail marijuana shops because the citizens they represent asked them to. They listened to the concerns of the people they represented and voted accordingly.

State government is organized similar to federal government with three branches: executive, legislative and judicial. The governor heads the executive branch that is responsible for final approval on bills that are passed through the state legislature. State legislature consists of two bodies: the Senate and the House of Representatives. These legislators create, amend, and approve state laws which are then sent to the governor to be signed. Once bills are signed by the governor, they become state laws. Some laws that are passed on the state level before they are passed by the federal government. For instance, the ban on buying bump stocks, devices that increase the rate a gun can be fired, that was passed recently by Massachusetts state legislature. These devices were used in the Las Vegas concert shooting and allowed the shooter to fire more shots. This measure has not passed on the federal level. In addition, state senators and representatives are very accessible to their constituents, people they represent, making it easier for people to bring any concerns they might have directly to the lawmakers who have the power to make changes happen.

Voting in every election is part of the civic duty of a citizen in the United States. State and local elections have a larger impact on daily life than most realize. Our democracy was designed with many variations of government to work in the best interest of its citizens. We have representative democracy which allows us to elect leaders to vote for or raise issues on our behalf. We also have direct democracy which allows us to directly voice our opinions when voting on ballot questions in our elections. Mayors and city councilors work to make our communities better places to live by working to maintaining our communities and making aspects of our daily life better. State government works to bring concerns of citizens and make laws for the state. Federal lawmakers represent our nation on the world stage, and make the laws that govern all states in the nation. All of these leaders have jobs that will directly impact citizens in every aspect of their life.

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Local Government Works for Best Interest of Citizens