By Gary Gillen
Why Local Races Matter
I am occasionally surprised to meet an individual who consistently votes in Presidential elections but does not vote in Party Primaries or Local races. I think we all understand why it is important to educate ourselves and vote in the Presidential race but let’s talk about local races today.
The local level of government has more effect on your daily life than any other. From the location of Stop Signs to speed limits on city streets to where your children go to school it is the local level of government: City Councils, School Boards and, yes, even Home Owner’s Associations that dictate so much of our lives. They determine the taxes you pay on your home and the dues you pay your homeowner’s association. Yet it is these races that are often decided by a very few people.
There are many local and down ballot races and it is so easy to meet these candidates because they go to church with us, shop with us, eat with us. I suspect if you e-mail or telephone any of the local candidates they will gladly come to visit you because they want your vote. As Christians and citizens it is our obligation to let our voices be heard and most important we must educate ourselves, find candidates with whose positions we agree and support them. This includes precinct level county races such as Constable, County Commissioner, and Justice of the Peace.
A word of warning… It isn’t reasonable to expect to find an elected official or candidate with whom we always agree. When you find a politician who agrees with you 100% of the time-be suspicious. Is he or she pandering to you or your community or truly on the same page as you? Voters who refuse to vote for a candidate they do not agree with on every single issue are often called “litmus test” voters.
These voters would rather see the opposition elected than vote for a candidate who is not “pure” enough for their taste. We saw this during the last presidential race when some people felt Mitt Romney, the Republican Candidate for President, was not conservative enough so they stayed home on Election Day and guaranteed President Obama’s re-election.
As you can see, the decisions of voters have consequences. For example, I suspect that I was not the only person surprised by a recent article in a local publication that pointed out that Katy was on the list of Sanctuary Cities. Thinking it must have been a mistake I searched the internet and found Katy listed as a Sanctuary City in several publications. Regardless of whether you think that is good or bad, that is not the reason I mention it.
I mention it because it is an example, admittedly extreme in this case, of the kinds of decisions local elected officials make and why it is important for voters to keep informed of the activities of local government officials.
If you agree with that decision, to make Katy a Sanctuary City, you should let your elected officials know that and vote to keep them in office. If you disagree, you should let your voice be heard and get involved in replacing those who chose to make Katy a Sanctuary City. It’s up to you.
Gary Gillen owns and operates Gillen Pest Control and Gillen Political Strategies in Richmond. He is the only person in history to have served on both the Richmond City Commission and the Rosenberg City Council. He was the Chairman of the Republican Party of Fort Bend County 2006-2007. He can be reached at Gary@GaryGillen.com