Government needs your voice! Here’s how you can get involvedFeb 02, 2024 09:17AM ● By Aimee Winder
Last month, I had the pleasure of attending several swearing-in ceremonies for newly elected city officials in my district. I watched individuals of various ages, demographics and backgrounds take an oath of office and assume the role of public servants.
I couldn’t help but think this is exactly what our Founding Fathers envisioned—a government by and for the people, accessible to those willing to serve and citizens who can select leaders representing their interests.
In almost every ceremony, these elected officials thanked supporters who knocked on doors, distributed fliers, hung signs and helped get out the vote. I was humbled thinking about the same support I have received over the years.
As Utahns, our engagement doesn’t need to end at the ballot box. There are countless ways that we can continue to help influence decisions to reflect our interests and values. What can you do to stay involved and ensure your voice gets heard? Here are five easy things to remember.
1) Remember, local is where it’s at
Local government impacts our daily lives much more than at the national level. Getting involved locally is the most effective way to maintain our quality of life. The good news? Local issues are rarely overly partisan and tend to be less divisive and contentious.
2) Stay informed
Take the time to learn about the issues in your area. The more you know, the more empowered you will be to start meaningful discussions, contribute to healthy debate and offer solutions.
3) Connect with your elected officials
Easily locate email addresses and phone numbers on your city or county websites. Don’t know who your state representatives are? Visit le.utah.gov, where user-friendly tools will help you find your representatives' names and contact information.
Connecting with your leaders on social media is also a great way to learn about their priorities and a convenient forum to ask questions and share your concerns.
Just a friendly reminder to keep it civil!
4) Attend city and county meetings
City Council, County Council Meetings and Board of Education Meetings are open to the public. Attendance is a great way to learn how local government functions and may give you a chance for your representatives to get to know you.
Are you concerned about what is happening in your schools? Listening in at a school board meeting is a great place to start. Are you worried about how your tax dollars impact roads or public safety? Your city and county’s websites will post the agendas and schedules for all future meetings.
5) Learn the process and use your voice
Did you know that most legislative bills start as an idea from a concerned citizen? Learning about how the legislative process works will help you feel more connected so that you will know who to contact if you have an idea for improvements. Who knows, your idea might turn into a bill that could eventually become a law.
Utah is an amazing place to live and we have amazing leaders representing us at all levels of government. Stay engaged and remember, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead.