Do Local Elections Matter?

Yes, Texas, local elections do matter.

As mentioned in a previous article highlighting Irving’s tax-payer funded giveaway, Texas has the second highest local debt per person ($7,500), more than California ($6,469), a state drunk on lavish public pensions and rock-star living standards.  Accordingly to the Texas State Comptroller, our debt albatross is primarily driven by public education K-12 spending…No, the expenditures have nothing to do with teacher’s pay.

Local politics may not be ‘partisan’ (cue audience laughter), but it sure is expensive.

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Ironically, activists spend most of their valuable time heckling federal legislators they are unable to remove from office, while ignoring local officials that they can.

Those Americans who actually pay attention to politics rarely follow political issues outside those in national media headlines.  Many can’t name their federal Senators; even fewer can name their Representative.  And for those who can, only a small minority know their state legislators.  Rounding off the bottom of obscure government officials are those elected at the county and local level.  These races have become shamefully irrelevant voters; only 2-4% typically weigh in.

To be fair, the obsession with the federal politics isn’t necessarily citizen driven.  After all, federal spenders have seized historic levels of taxing, borrowing, spending and regulatory authority, mandating everything from your light bulb to your toilet (where would we be without excrement supervision?) Even after the eighteen-month presidential campaign media frenzy, pundits foam at the mouth with unhinged anticipation for the next presidential election cycle.

It’s a tragic addiction.

Consequently, those patriots paying attention to all levels of government experience a boundless sense of helplessness, as they watch their friends and family float through life unaware of the never-ending supply of looming policy crises.  In this way, the public’s obliviousness is viewed as the major obstacle to restoring individual liberty and sound governance.  Ironically, activists spend most of their valuable time heckling federal legislators they are unable to remove from office, while ignoring local officials that they can.

It would be one thing if the local borrowing explosion was driven by public do-gooders elected with 50-60% voter turnout. Instead, city councils and school boards get into office with maybe 5 percent of the vote. It would be a different story if local bond elections passed by a 70 percent margin if they had 20 or 30 percent participation of voters, instead of 2%.

The low-turnout is discouraging, but it is also an opportunity to start making things right. 

Stated differently, at least Texans are not knowingly supporting new schools costing $250 per sq ft!  A one to two percent increase in turnout in cities and districts across Texas may suffice to stop the local-government spending sprees.  Dismal turnout is not an obstacle; it is an opportunity for the grassroots to restore prudent governance.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ross Kecseg leads the Metroplex Bureau for Empower Texans and Texas Scorecard. He is a native North Texan, raised in Denton County. He studied Economics at Arizona State University with an emphasis on Public Policy and Constitutional history. Since 2008, Ross has been active in grassroots organizing, political campaigns and as an Irving ISD volunteer. He enjoys speaking to liberty-minded groups regarding the strategic effectiveness of state and local engagement. Ross is an avid golfer, automotive enthusiast, and movie/music junkie.

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