It might be difficult to get excited about a local election in May but voters should take notice. With gridlock in Washington bringing governance to a slow crawl it is the perfect time to go local. There is no need to look to the federal government to produce positive change when you can do it in your own backyard. One of the key components of federalism is a politically motivated local governance structure to counterbalance the authority of the national government. So not only does the average voter have a far better chance of advancing their ideas at the local level, doing so is essential for a proper balance of powers embodied in the Constitution.
When it comes to politics the average voter matters more at the local level than they ever could at the national level. In Harris County in 2012 Mitt Romney received 586,073 votes in 2012 and Barack Obama received 587,044. Compare this to the 2011 Houston mayoral election in which Annise Parker received the most votes with 59,156. In fact, five times more ballots were cast Mitt Romney in 2012 than total ballots cast in the mayoral election in 2011. And the more local the more influence the voter has. For instance, voting for Houston Community College Trustees also took place in 2011 and a candidate only needed around five thousand votes to win.
Among the contests voters will be asked to decide on May 11th is the one for Lone Star College Board of Trustees. In addition to their oversight duties of the administration the Board decides on such pertinent issues as property tax rates and bond issues for the college district. This means the nine people who sit on the Board can determine what property owners will pay in taxes. It is more likely that a voter will get the attention of their local college board member or city council member than their Senator or member of the House of Representatives. Also, those activities undertaken by one's local school districts and college board affect the average citizen more immediately and more directly than anything done at the national level. Local politics should matter more because it does matter more.
So while most voters are still trying to shake free from their 2012 political hangover voters should not ignore what is taking place in May. Voters who are dissatisfied with the direction of our national government, or the lack thereof, should take solace in knowing that local politics is where real change happens and where their input truly matters.