These local elections are typically nonpartisan and, over time, this system has proven to be quite effective. Being outside the partisan arena produces an environment that encourages collaboration, compromise, and results. I’ve always said that, in general, local office holders have the toughest elective office of all. Why? Two reasons: One, constituents probably know where you live, know when you are around, and can show up at your home or business at any time. Two, your constituents are much more likely to have an understanding, or at least think they have, of local issues and are, therefore, more comfortable asking questions as well as raising hell.
Local government servants also serve as a recruiting source for candidates at the state legislative level, as well as for other state and national offices. Both Senator Nancy Kassebaum and Congressman Dan Glickman came from local school board experiences in Wichita. One of the benefits of local experience is that much of what goes on in Topeka and Washington D.C. significantly impacts local government. Experience working to solve problems at the local level helps to bring better results at the state or federal level.
Most importantly, it is leadership at the local level that has the most to do with how the community invests in public education, local infrastructure needs and the quality of life factors that have a huge impact on families decisions to come, stay or move. What local leaders do in their local community really makes the difference. It is effective community leaders who are able to build upon local initiative and tax dollars to obtain more state and federal support.
The famous quote from Teddy Roosevelt, which today would most definitely include women:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes up short again and again...But who does actually strive to do good deeds, who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory or defeat.”