Prior to the Council Workshop last night, I spent some time with cub scout pack 3322 and its leaders. They wanted to know how local government works. Well, the leaders probably wanted pack 3322 to know how local government works more than the kids wanted to know themselves. But I still got some “wow’s” out of them when they found out how much the city spent on City Hall. One even said “its nowhere near downtown”. Smart kid!
There is no question that we are in a tumultuous time politically. Everyone can probably agree on that. First impressions at the age of most cub scouts tend to leave lasting impressions. So what was my message? Local politics matter more than you might think.
I took some parts from when I ran for office that highlighted how important local politics are to our daily lives.
We have 1 President and 1 VP.
There are 535 members of Congress.
There are 400 governors, Lt Governors & Other elected State officials.
We have 7,300 state legislators are various levels of office.
There are 529,000 elected officials in local governments. And in the case of Hudson, that is a largely volunteer official (sure, we get paid but its about $1/hour, trust me… its volunteer work).
A Senator is probably not going to worry too much when a snowplow hits your mailbox and destroys it. The Governor is not going to worry much about potholes in your street or the bicycling conditions on your sidewalk. The President or Vice President will not connect your neighborhood to your favorite park. A Federal Congressman is not going to do much about a skate park or pool in Hudson. It is the 529,000 local officials who have the most immediate, direct impact on most peoples lives. We make sure streets are plowed, water main breaks are fixed, your parks look nice, sidewalks don’t trip people, roads are smooth(er), your mailbox is repaired or replaced, make sure your house has power, help deal with zoning problems, maintain the look and feel of the community, help balance the city budget. Council-members and the city staff who work for every resident in Hudson do that work. And more. That isn’t to say state and national politics don’t matter. Of course, they matter. But they tend to have a less immediate impact on your community. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes, but we do try. More importantly most of us listen and try to steer our town toward what residents want out of their community. I wanted the kids to know that they can engage at the local level and make a huge difference. They can worry about national politics somewhere down the road. I was honored to spend time with them fielding questions from a young man or woman’s perspective. If only we could all see through kids eyes again.