Sticker Swag

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For many, wearing that sticker on the first Tuesday in November serves as a badge of honor. For others who didn’t vote, its sight may serve as a mild source of shame.

If I’m being honest, while I always vote during the big election years, for “off years” (like 2023) I typically haven’t given the ballot much thought. Since there are no nation-wide or state-wide elections of consequence this year, it’s easy to fall into the mentality that whatever might be on the ballot doesn’t merit much of my time or energy.

Yet the more invested I get in my neighborhood and the more Flourish involved is in the work of placemaking, the more convinced I am that local elections are the most important of all.

Don’t get me wrong — who we elect at the highest levels matters, as we’ve seen and felt their impact on everything from the Supreme Court and public safety to taxes and education, and everything in between.

But the truth of the matter is that our vote gets the most bang for the buck at the local level. Not only is the impact of your individual vote felt more in a smaller voter pool, but the outcome of many local elections most directly impacts the day-to-day reality for you and your neighbors.

For instance, where I live in Richfield, the only items on the ballot are for the district school board and two funding measures for Richfield schools. On the one hand, it could be easy for me to give this year’s ballot little thought since my kids are still at the Minneapolis school they’ve attended for years. Yet I recognize (and believe with all of my heart!) that there should be few priorities (if any) higher for a community than the education it provides for its children. My vote to choose ongoing and increased funding for the school district’s work should matter deeply to me. My neighbors would feel the impact of underfunded schools immediately, and our city would feel the impact for decades.

For all of us seeking to love our neighbors well, local elections matter.

I don’t know what’s on your ballot this year, but whatever it might be, please don’t take it lightly.