Make an Impact on the Local Level

Last Thursday, my children were late to school. Not because they overslept or were not feeling well. In fact, they were up and dressed and sitting at the dining room table when we should have been rushing out the door to school.

Instead, they stayed home a few extra minutes because we were writing letters to our U.S. Senators and congressional representative.They were not told what to write, but rather to just share their feelings about what was going on in the world and how they felt their representative was doing. The letters were mailed the same day and they left with a civics lesson for the day. 

While it is important to stay informed and stay in contact with our national leaders, I am going to start a new practice with my youngest children beginning next month: attending local governmental meetings.There is no reason that more of us shouldn’t be attending these meetings, whether city council, school board or county commissioners.

I realize this can be time consuming and perhaps not terribly exciting, but these people are making decisions which affect each and every one of us, each and every day. While national politics may grip the headlines, we actually need to put more focus on our local leaders.

Because at the end of the day, local issues and local leaders have more of an impact on our lives than any national figure ever will. And it’s not that hard, when you know the schedule.

The McCook City Council meets on the first and third Mondays at 5:30 p.m. at the City Council Chambers in city building. The McCook School Board meets on the second Monday at 6:30 p.m., usually in the junior high conference room but the high school conference room has been used lately for additional space. 

And the Red Willow County commissioners meet every Monday at 9 a.m. in the courthouse. All of these meetings are open to the public and have agendas published before the meeting. But even if there isn’t something on the agenda which peaks your interest, it never hurts just to show up and see how a meeting runs, learn what is going on and see your local leader face-to-face. 

And on the state level, the McCook Chamber of Commerce hosts weekly conference calls with State Senator Dan Hughes, every Thursday morning during the legislative session. This is a wonderful opportunity to have a “face-to-face” conversation with our local representative. And the visit is not just an aide or a representative of the representative but Senator Hughes calling from his office at the state capital. 

Here’s a simple test, can you name one, two or all six of the McCook school board members? Can you name three of the five city council members? Do you know which of the three county commissioners serves your district? Take the time to find out who is making decisions on your behalf and what those decisions are.And mark your calendars for Thursday, Feb. 18, when the city of McCook will host a town hall meeting at the McCook Auditorium. This will be a perfect opportunity to share your views about what you would like the city to accomplish over the next few years, decade or even the next generation. 

While we can and should try to do many things through the private sector, these local officials control millions of tax dollars. They make the decisions which will affect our community for generations to come. Your voice matters. Your ideas matter. You can make an impact simply by showing up or reaching out and being heard, especially on the local level.

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