Don’t Let Local Politics Sneak Up on You
It’s no secret that Americans are obsessed with politics. They have every right to be. What goes on at the federal and state levels of government dramatically affects how we live and do business. With 24-hour sensationalized news, you can choose your flavor (MSN/Fox) of flashy graphics and outraged anchors. However, with much attention given to what’s going on at the “macro” level, we can be completely blindsided by decisions made in our local communities. This is where we have the most influence.
Local politics is easy to overlook. Issues brought before city councils, boards, and neighborhood associations get easily drowned out in today’s media. However, the lack of public awareness does not make their decisions any less important. Issues related to taxes, homelessness, zoning, and government spending can quickly alter the business landscape. If you don’t know what’s being decided, you will not be able to advocate for your business interests or fully prepare for systematic changes. In other words, don’t let local politics catch you by surprise.
Strategically minded businesses keep an eye on the external opportunities and threats that could affect their livelihood.
Here’s how you can improve your local political knowledge:
- Read your local paper and listen to local radio.
- Watch Capital Community Media’s coverage of the City Council on Monday nights (check out the agenda ahead of time on cityofsalem.net).
- Follow Facebook/Twitter for your neighborhood, city, county, and state. Check out the pages for the state agencies, regulatory organizations, and trade associations for your business type.
- Vote (and do your research in advance).
- Volunteer (at any level of government or for any candidate/elected official)
- Serve (you can start at the neighborhood association level, precinct committee person, local board or commission, or run for office someday!)
Unless you participate in these levels, you will always be at the mercy of those who do pay attention and participate.
Mary Louise VanNatta is CEO of VanNatta Public Relations. PRSalem.com