"A basic understanding of Pennsylvania's system of local governments is the first step towards greater involvement, as a citizen or an elected official. This video provides an overview of local government functions and the roles that we can play within our communities."
Ok, now that you watched that video (you did watch it, right?), what do you do next? Of course you are going to get out and vote in the next election (right?), but what about after that?
Are you now going to pay close attention to see that the people that you voted for do the things that you want them to do? Are you being vigilant to be sure that they are fixing that street in front of your house, maintaining that playground at the end of the block, and paying attention that the local police are patrolling your neighborhood (like you told them that you wanted, when you talked to that candidate in front of the polling place or at your front door)?
Wait, what? You don't have local police? (Guess what, you are not alone. See this Keystone Crossroads Report, and check out the municipal map that illustrates coverage.)
So, if you don't have local police, how is the public safety ensured? (It's complicated.)
Well, at least the local roads are paved and well kept. Uh oh. What do mean you live on a "dirt and gravel" road? (Who knew that over 25,000 miles of Pennsylvania's roads are unpaved?)
Hmmm... Looks like those candidates that you voted for have a lot of work in front of them, doesn't it? Well, that's why they make the big bucks.
Um.... What do you mean they're mostly service positions, with little to no pay?
Given our expectations, we all may have to pitch in to make our communities great places to live. Here is one place to start --
What it Means to be on a Citizen Planning Commission; January 27, 2017; Learn about the expectations and impacts of being on a Citizen Planning Commission in your community. Read More about What it Means to be on a Citizen Planning Commission…
Does your community have a planning commission? Who are it's members? Is that a position that you could fill for your community?
If "Planning Commissioner" is not your thing, how about "Recreation Commissioner?"
No? How about "Shade Tree Commissioner?"
"Municipal Authority Board Director?"
All of these titles and more represent ways that Pennsylvania citizens can and do become involved in their local communities' governance and service provision. If you want to make your place a better place, applying to fill one of these roles is one place to start.
And if that's more than you can do right now, consider volunteering to help those that are already serving in these roles.
Notice I didn't say "consider just volunteering.... " Given that there are over 2500 municipalities in Pennsylvania, each charged by the Municipality Planning Code and other state enabling legislation with certain unique powers and duties (Information on enabling legislation of only one type of local government, "Second Class Township"), there is a lot of work to be done.
It takes a bunch of volunteers.
Your municipality, your local community, needs you.
Where does your time and talent best fit?
For those who live in a Pennsylvania borough, you may learn more about the enabling legislation for your municipality on the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs' website.