As Pennsylvania celebrates Local Government Week, April 15-19, this is the perfect opportunity for you to better understand that the level of government that most affects us every day is much closer to home than the White House, the halls of Congress or even your state capitol building.
Your local government – council, township supervisors, county commissioners, , etc. – is the level of government that live and work in our area and have a significant impact on our lives every day.
The Constitution of the United States does not even mention local governments, these elements of authority, from the mayor’s office to the county clerk are developed by individual states.
Each state grants authority to local government through written rules called charters, often detailed in the state’s constitution. These charters may be specific to the municipality, as is the case with home rule charters for certain cities, or they can be based on features, like size or population of the communities. Sometimes special charters are drafted for towns with unique situations, such as geographic distances or specialized industries.
The structure of local government varies from state to state and town to town but usually mirrors the separation of powers found in the federal government. Most towns and cities have a mayor, who serves as the city’s chief executive; much like the president is to the U.S. federal government. The legislative branch of local governments is made up of a group of elected representatives, often called the council, township supervisors and board of commissioners and it serves the function of a local congress. These officials propose debate and sometimes enact new local laws and regulations. In some cities, the mayor is a voting member of the city council; in others, they simply approve or veto legislation that the council approves.
The first step towards knowing your local representatives and communicating your views with them is to stay informed, read your local newspaper and learn as much as you can about your local area and then to get in touch with your local government officials, you can visit http://www.