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How to Follow State and Local Politics
By: Nathan Han
Local politics and its policies can play a huge role in everyone’s daily life. But it can be tough to keep up with local and even state politics like school bonds or transportation propositions when the spotlight is always shining bright on the national stage.
One of the best ways to be informed about local and state politics is to follow your local journalism news organizations! Whether it’s a newspaper, a local TV station, or an online publication, these local news sources have most likely invested plenty of resources into covering local politics like city council meetings and school board meetings. Many of those publications will also cover the state legislature (the Texas state legislature is in session right now!) and its specific policies and politics as well.
Another way to be involved is to be informed when you go to the polls to vote about local and state elections down the ballot. You can find your local and state elected officials and the districts you belong to here. While your local media may have solid information about the policies as well as pros and cons and political history of each candidate, nonpartisan organizations like the League of Women’s Voters have extensive voter guides listing each candidate’s stances on important issues here.
Town halls and city council meetings can be clunky, confusing, and hard to understand. But they’re also the best way to have your voice heard by local officials and learn about policies. Almost all of those meetings will be broadcast online on the city or county’s websites, and while sitting through hours of government meetings might be a lot of time to invest, agendas for city council meetings or town halls are also online. In those agendas, you can find the specific issues that matter to you and know when you can participate in debates and discussions surrounding those issues.
If you’re in Austin, here’s how the city encourages you to participate in its government. If not, your own local city should have something similar. Additionally, the Texas legislature is in session right now, so now is a perfect time to be involved in Texas’s legislative affairs! (TX Votes will cover the Texas legislature in a future newsletter, so stay tuned for that!)
Following local and state politics takes time and research, but if you have the resources to do so, being involved in your local community can be one of the best ways to make a tangible difference!
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