Why Vote Local
Your Vote, Your Voice
The importance of voting in local elections
The beauty of living in a democracy is that We the People have the ability to determine who represents us in government, whether on a local, state, or federal level. Our vote provides us with a voice and can influence decisions on issues of importance in our communities.
Decisions made by local elected leaders directly affect our everyday lives. Areas they influence include:
State and local taxes fund many of the services within our communities. Budgets are formulated by taking into account the community's civic priorities, projected revenue and costs, and future plans. While few people want higher taxes, lowering taxes could lead to cutbacks in essential services. Leaders must find a balance and decide how to allocate financial resources.
From the maintenance of roads, to water and sewage systems, to trash collection, the quality of public works and the maintenance of infrastructure is essential to the welfare of our communities. Having beautiful parks, neighborhood playgrounds, recreational facilities, resources for children and senior citizens, and libraries generally improve the quality of life for all citizens. Leaders who value public works will make sure they are supported and funded.
Local leaders can directly affect the health of our communities by ensuring the quality of our air and water, limiting pollution, and promoting recycling efforts. They also monitor and evaluate impacts on our local environment caused by land use and development. In response to Mariner East pipeline construction, leaders hired geology consultants, launched geophysical studies, and approved and implemented a monitoring plan to improve safety measures.
School boards represent the community’s voice in public education, providing citizen governance and knowledge of the community’s resources and needs. Board members are the policymakers closest to the student. In many communities, school districts are the largest employer and purchaser of energy and supplies. School boards set policy around important concerns such as curriculum, scheduling, and safety. School boards also have the ability to accept or deny state-authorized tax increases. It is important to have the priorities of the board members align with the needs of all children in the district.
Local businesses rely on leaders to create stable environments where their shops and companies can thrive. When Governor Wolf halted all indoor dining, many restaurants were at risk of closing. As an alternative, local councils voted to permit outdoor dining in parking areas in an effort to keep restaurants open.
Zoning/ Land Development and Construction Oversight
It is the responsibility of the local government to establish and enforce zoning laws and to provide a permitting and inspection process for their residents. Zoning and Land Development play a significant role in protecting critical features in a community such as rural villages, fragile environmental areas, or historic areas. Their decisions have a daily impact on your life as land development and zoning modifications in your town can contribute to traffic and population increases. While zoning and development oversight protects the community at large, construction oversight protects homeowners from unsafe conditions within their homes. Through the issuance of building permits and inspections, local authorities certify that your home construction and renovations meet state building code requirements. Zoning, land development, and construction oversight are hyper-local government responsibilities affected by your vote giving you the power to determine the safety of your home and how your community looks today and in the future.
Delaware County is the largest county in Pennsylvania that does not have its own health department. County Council, long a Republican stronghold, had not considered this a necessity. The value of a health department to coordinate data and disseminate information became evident when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. People were desperate for information. Thankfully, Chester County has been an invaluable partner in helping Delaware County deal with the pandemic.
With the historic election of 2019, by which Democrats took control of County Council for the first time since the Civil War era, the county is now taking steps toward forming our own public health department.
Public Safety and Criminal Justice
Police and fire departments work with local leaders to uphold laws and keep residents safe. Supporting these departments helps maintain the quality of these services, and benefits all residents. Your vote can also have an impact on the criminal justice system by electing the District Attorney. The DA works to ensure laws are enforced, and seeks fair and equivalent justice for everyone. Our current DA, Jack Stollsteimer, was elected in 2019, the first Democrat ever to hold the position in Delaware County.
Voting locally not only affects our current world, but our future world as well.
Everyone in elected office started somewhere, often by first running for office at the local level. The people we vote for now could eventually be candidates for state legislature, governor, Congress, even the presidency. By voting in local elections, we begin shaping how our future political system might look.
Almost every aspect of our daily lives is affected by who we vote for at the local level. And the outcomes of these elections often come down to a handful of votes, so rest assured…your vote always counts.