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Discussion—Citizen Participation in Local Government

The local level of the government is closest and most accessible to citizens. In addition, the local government affects us most often, whether it is through the provision of basic services (such as water, sewer, and waste disposal), road building and maintenance, crime prevention and response, or public schools for children. Ideally, local governance is an opportunity for face-to-face democratic governance. However, election results show that the fewest citizens participate in local elections, and survey research reveals that few people attend city council or school board meetings.

In this context, discuss the following:

 

  • How much citizen participation occurs in your local government, such as turnout in local elections and attendance at local government meetings?
  • Are you satisfied or concerned about the level of local government involvement? If the involvement is high, why do you think that is the case? If the involvement is low, what, if anything, should be done to increase participation?

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