Local 101: Beyond Running for Office

Local Government 101: Beyond Running for Office

I have great news for you…..You don’t have to hold office to have influence!

This is how things go in Borough politics in PA.

Elected officials (Borough Council) gets the final say over legislation (in local government they are ordinances, resolutions).  Long before a decision over legislation is made, some voter comes up with an idea. Voter says they want “X.”  They research how to achieve “X” then they write a draft of the reasons for “X.”  They consult with a Councilperson or someone who does stuff in the municipality to find out if “X” already exists.  If not, has it someone else tried “X” before and what happened.

The next step is to present “X” and its background to committee members with a draft of an ordinance -if possible- or ask the committee to draft an ordinance.  Remember, committee members are going to be volunteers with their own jobs, families, and priorities.  You have to sell them on the benefits of acting on your vision of “X.”  If they think “X” needs to be tweaked, overhauled or discarded, the committee will often let you know where they stand, or you will find out how they feel once it’s time for them to take action.

If they say yes and pass it on to the next stage, then congratulations!  You’ve won round one!

Next it goes from a committee to Council.  There is time for public comment.  “X” gets debated or goes right to a vote.  If “X” is voted yes, congratulations!  You’ve won round two!!

The final stage (if it is an ordinance), is for “X” to be signed or vetoed by the Mayor.

All this because a little ‘ol voter had a little ol’ idea.  Then the magic happens!

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