This old chestnut is certainly true- All Politics are Local. But the stage upon which they are staged and played keeps growing.
The local politicians, school board presidents, township supervisors, police- all of these folks do more, every day, to influence the quality of our life than our senators and congresmen- in fact, the farther away you get from local, the less in touch and responsive politicians seem to be with their constituents. This also has to do with the fact that most of the “points of pain” that cause people concern are of a local matter, something better handled by someone closer to the ground, so to speak, than the guys higher up the food chain. Just like in corporate America, if you want something done, you need to go to your direct supervisor, and only go over their head if there’s a problem.
As the number of people served grows, the responsiveness of politicians to concerns seems to diminish. It’s hard to get a message through to the guy in charge, because there are many layers of bureaucracy to penetrate before you get to the top, and any one cog can put your individual concerns to the side, if they can’t handle them directly.
While bigger campaigns are starting to use Social Media to get their message out and garner big numbers for support, the election coming up in Kennett Township, PA is one of the first ones I’ve seen that has involved social media on a township level. For the first time I can remember, local folks are using Facebook to talk to other folks about who they should vote for in a Township Supervisor’s election, and it’s garnered more interest and debate than I’ve ever seen in a local, off-year election.
In fact, it is contentious enough that I actually contacted my supervisor about a rumor that I heard. I had heard that our one, general Township police officer (recently hired, and a recently created position) had had an accident and was relegated to desk duty, and would be for at least 6 months. This seemed to be incredible to me, essentially putting the law enforcement of our township out of business and deferred to other local law enforcement for this full period. Should the officer be put on disability? Do you get to have “substitute” short term replacements hired? I have no idea. But when I asked about the rumor, this is the response I got:
Our Chief of Police is not able to drive a vehicle for perhaps the next 6 months due a medical issue. However, as we have learned over the past 4 years, it is very important to have a visible and mobile police presence. This ability has provided rapid response to medical, fire and police related issues.
We plan to contract out part-time police patrol services for approximately 20 hours/week until the Chief is again able to drive. We anticipate 3-5 months of this mode of operation; this is in addition to the Chief being in the office or being driven to areas of need, speaking and communicating with people and directing the patrolling office.When the contract officer(s) is/are not on duty, police calls are automatically transferred to the State Police. When on duty our police are the first responders.
Any questions please call or email me.
I appreciate the honest and quick response. I also shared the response an the question posed both here and on a Facebook group that had been discussing the upcoming election.
This is just an example of how even in a small community, information can be shared quickly and widely to a larger community, and possibly even tilt an election, in one way or another. The most important thing is for government, local, statewide and national, to realize that transparency will be required, and response to citizens will be more and more a part of the duties. Everyone will still be their own special interests, but it will be harder to gauge the community feel and opinion on issues without becoming more engaged and more open with decisions and the reasoning behind them.
Accountability on every level will be required, and the days of the backroom deal or keeping it quiet are gone.
And I certainly hope everyone running for office realizes this is this case.