MICHAELA GIBSON MORRIS: Presidents get press, but city officials make biggest impact

A few weeks ago, a City Council candidate dropped by our house as he walked the neighborhood.
He was a well-dressed African-American man (who will remain unnamed in this space to avoid suggestion of any bias).
My 4-year-old son stuck his head out the door, and in a loud, clear voice said, “Hello, Barack Obama.”
The candidate kindly took the compliment in the spirit it was intended. As we’ve shared the story with friends and family, there have been many chuckles at our little guy’s well-intentioned case of misidentification.
Most adults aren’t likely to mistake city council candidates for the president. But by our actions, we do the same thing. Not nearly as many voters show up for local elections as they do national elections.
Today, those of us who live inside incorporated limits will have the chance to cast a ballot in the city elections.
Those elected as mayors and city board members may not have the power to deploy the Marines, appoint Supreme Court Justices or command worldwide media attention.
But on a day-to-day basis, those men and women who serve in city offices have a tremendous impact on our quality of life.
They have to make tough decisions about basic services – police and fire protection, street maintenance, building inspections, garbage collection and utilities.
Their actions affect where businesses can locate, how many programs Parks and Recreation can offer and what happens when dogs run loose.
In Tupelo and several other cities, the City Council has a long-lasting impact on schools because it make appointments to the school board.
What matters more to us than the education and safety of our children?
I’m not saying people should pay less attention to choosing a president. But what goes on at City Hall should matter as much to the people who live in this city as what goes on in the White House.
The mayor and city council can’t overturn Roe vs. Wade. They can’t call a moratorium on the death penalty. They can’t call off the Internal Revenue Service.
But you can have a face-to-face conversation with them about what matters to you, and you don’t have to buy a plane ticket to do it.
And that is priceless.
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Exercise your right to have a say in your city’s future.
Michaela Gibson Morris is a Daily Journal staff writer. Contact her at 678-1599 or michaela.morris@djournal.com.

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