Civic responsibility: Get involved with your local government

Gene Mabe of Burlington votes at Turrentine Middle School on Nov. 3. / Steven Mantilla, Times-News

By Chandler Holland
Times-News correspondent

   As teens go about our lives, going to school, hanging out with friends, and playing sports, most of us are not yet thinking about the “adult world” and our day-to-day effect on it. So we tend to leave the politics up to our parents, assuming that even if we did pay attention, our voices would not be heard. Thankfully, even as teens, our opinions do matter, and making them known to our local leaders is way easier than you would think.
It’s a big year in the voting polls. In Alamance County alone, we are voting to elect a president, a governor, and several county commissioners. So if like me, you are not old enough to vote, what can you do to make sure your voice is still heard? One of the easiest ways is by attending local government meetings. County, municipal and educational board meetings are all open to the public, and they are one of the simplest ways to both be “in on the action” as well as having an opportunity to speak your mind on current topics up for debate.
Volunteering with local nonprofits, with candidate’s campaigns, and taking on local leadership roles, will get you in touch with your local community, and look great on your college resume. Writing letters, whether by hand or through email, is another proven way to share your opinion with local officials.
Though it might sound cliche, go and meet your political representatives. Get to know them on a personal level, and judge them for yourself, rather then simply going by what the media tells you. One of the best resources for finding out the “who, what, when and where” for local governmental gatherings is through the Alamance County Board of Elections. Its Public Officials Directory lists every single local government official in Alamance County, along with all their contact information.

So what is civic engagement, and what does it mean to you? As American citizens, is it our right or our obligation? In some ways, it really is both, and it’s up to you to get involved. As a teen myself, I strongly encourage you to speak up and make your voice be heard. You may just be surprised by what you find.

Chandler Holland is a junior home-schooler and a Teens & Twenties writer. She was a lead intern at C’est si Bon! Cooking School, and co-teaches the Kitchen Capers kid’s cooking classes at Alamance Arts.

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