Whether you have been on social media or watching any form of news, you have probably seen that a majority of the conversation is about the 2020 election. While it is important to find a good candidate to take on President Donald Trump and reverse several of his destructive policies, there are important events happening in small towns and cities across the Lower Shore in 2019 that are being overlooked. The 2019 Municipal elections are where we will be electing many of our town council representatives and mayors, depending on the area you live in. From cities like Salisbury to small towns like Brookview in Dorchester County, these elections are the simplest way to have a major impact in order to build the best possible future for our region.
One major reason you should be involved is it’s necessary to keep you informed about what is going on right outside your door. It doesn’t matter if you live in a city like Salisbury or a small town like Pittsville, there are many things going on in your community that you might not think about on a regular basis. By becoming involved in local politics in your town, you not only get a chance to meet your neighbors, but you acquire an understanding of the issues facing your area. Knowing the needs of your community helps you to become an active member in finding solutions to those issues, therefore improving both the community and your personal life. The old saying is true that if you want to change the world you should start locally!
Another major reason you should be involved is it gives the Progressive Movement on the Shore a unique opportunity to build a bench for future races. In 2018, we were able to get some progressives elected into office. However, we still have a long way to go in order to build a government on the Shore that works for the many. One of the biggest problems we faced in 2018 was our candidates didn’t have name recognition and that played a role in some of the close defeats we had. By having progressives start at the local level, candidates gain the experience and the name recognition needed to run for higher offices on the county or state-level in the future. This will not only help our movement in the future but also improves our local governments now, providing an opportunity to have a greater impact in our communities sooner rather than later.
Finally, local governments have the biggest direct effect on our lives. In our political system local governments are in charge of many services like parks and recreation services, police and fire departments, housing services, emergency medical services, municipal courts, transportation services (including public transportation), and public works (streets, sewers, snow removal, signage, and more). For years people really haven’t paid attention to their local governments across the Shore and it has had a pretty serious effect on events in our community. A perfect example is when Pittsville Town Commission President Denver Moore hired his daughter Carla Moore as town bookkeeper. She went on to embezzle more than $170,000 from the town and was sentenced to jail time for her actions. This isn’t the only time local governments on the Shore have done shady things behind the backs of the public. If you have been paying attention to local news you have probably heard about the tragic death of Anton Black. Despite knowing of Thomas Webster IV past use of excessive force and protests from the president of the Central Delaware NAACP chapter warning the town of his history of violence, the town council still decided to hire Webster and put him in a position of power in the community. This decision is a clear failure on the part of elected officials of the Greensboro town council and a tragic reminder of the need to make sure we elect local leaders who listen to the public and don’t put people with questionable pasts in positions of power within our community.
Even though most towns haven’t had a major negative news story like Pittsville or Greensboro, there are still other major issues with our local Governments across the Lower Shore. Other than the great work being done Mayor Jake Day in Salisbury, many towns on the Lower Shore struggle to find enough people to fully run their town governments. This forces towns to fill their seats with folks who don’t know what they are doing. This lack of experience means that even when full, a majority of the major issues facing our local communities are often not addressed. This is one of the biggest reasons why Progressives should focus on local races in 2019. Not only can we get progressive leaders elected, but we can look to address the corruption and ineffectiveness that plagues our smaller communities. Paying attention to local elections and looking at elected leaders who will actually put forth ideas backed up by hard work to improve our towns and cities will help all citizens build a brighter future for our region--brick by brick.