Don’t ignore local government activities

By Thomas Nelson,

If you’re only paying attention to the government during election years you’re wrong. Pretty soon you’re going to see more and more articles coming out about the Bill and Sally candidates running for supervisor, representative, etc., and if you only pay attention to the government when people are running, you are in the wrong.

The government needs vigilance. Not just when they’re doing something wrong, but when those officials are doing things right.

Tom Nelson
Tom Nelson

When you’re reading the opinion page of this newspaper, you’ve probably seen pieces by Rep. Todd Prichard, D-Charles City, and Sen. Waylon Brown, R-St. Ansgar.

Did you know they host legislative sessions, and that right now the state government is in session and voting?

The City Council meets to vote every other Monday and will hold its next voting session March 5.

I know this because it’s my job to know these things. The council will be holding a public hearing on the city budget at that March 5 session.

I’ll be there, and I’ll hold a seat for you if you want to come!

State, city, school and county government is just as, if not more, important than federal government.

Sometimes we (especially me) get caught up in what Washington, D.C., is doing about X or Y, while state and local governments are doing things that actively effect change in our neighborhoods.

A new arboretum is coming to our community, which is fantastic! I know, I was at the meeting. I’ve written about it. I’ll be writing about it.

With that said, I can’t cover everything that happens in a meeting for the paper.

I write news stories, I’m not a stenographer. The most important details lead the story and other important details follow.

Do you read past the headline?

I only ask because, outside of council members, the mayor, city clerk and people getting paid to be there, I don’t usually see anyone at council meetings.

I’m paid to be there and to inform you about the big stuff.

My editor, Bob Steenson, is at the county supervisors meetings and we also go to the Board of Education sessions.

I’m not saying you need to go to every meeting or session that’s public, but showing up can make a difference. Who knows, you might learn something.

During presidential elections, I hear a lot of people talk about “the system.” The system prevents this or that and allows those in power to stay in power.

Non-presidential election years are the time to change that system.

You can’t change it all at once, or by going to one meeting. You change it by being involved, and by paying attention and by showing up.

It can literally be as easy as showing up and asking a question, like, “why are we doing this, and not that?”

It isn’t always simple but isn’t that the point. Nothing great ever comes easy, or at least that’s what I’ve been told.

So do what you were told to do in school and pay attention.