The 617: Why local politics matter

In the era of Trump-driven news cycles, everything else can seem to get swept under the rug. Local news stations constantly discuss Mueller’s Russia investigation or controversial tweets from President Trump. But there’s more to politics and news than the gossipy headlines from Washington, D.C. While the Russia investigation or tweets from the President may affect the average person, the actual legislation and news that matters comes right from your local town hall: Funding for public schools, changes in public transportation, laws surrounding police or efforts to stop the opioid crisis. These aren’t laws that come from the Capitol, they come from your local city council.

You’re right. Talking about real estate tax allocation in Medford, Mass. is nowhere near as fun as gossiping about proposed bills in D.C. But the reality is that the majority of legislation passed in D.C. won’t affect your day-to-day life. A bill on increasing the defense budget might be headline-breaking and interesting to discuss, but it won’t change much in your community. Most Tufts students probably didn’t pay attention to the contentious debate between the Medford Zoning Board and Tufts administration over expanding housing for Tufts students. A member of the Medford School Committee said they wanted the area to remain a “Hillside neighborhood, not a Tufts neighborhood.” These interactions between Tufts and the Medford/Somerville area are arguably more important than what happens in Trump’s White House. These are the decisions that affect students’ lives today and tomorrow.

Even outside of the Medford/Somerville area, what happens in the surrounding Boston metropolitan area is important to pay attention to. Hundreds of workers at Boston’s Logan Airport are planning to go on strike to fight for higher wages. Ballot initiatives for November are already raising millions of dollars, with the most popular ballot question regarding nurse-to-patient ratios in Massachusetts hospitals. The Boston City Council President is looking into allowing non-citizens to vote in elections for councilors and mayor.

Getting politically active doesn’t mean following President Trump on Twitter and watching CNN sometimes. Political activism is attending city council meetings and learning the name of your local representative, not only in the U.S. House of Representatives but in your state-level House and Senate too. Voting in races for local positions matters more than races for federal-level positions, but voting turnout for local races is dismal at best. In a time when people seem to want change and to make a difference in legislation, people need to start paying attention to local politics.

Michelle Obama recently said, “Real change doesn’t happen from the top down here in Washington. Real change happens from the bottom up in communities across the country.” Read the Boston Herald or the Medford Transcript. Follow our U.S. House of Representatives member Katherine Clark on Twitter to see how she’s helping our district. Get involved in the upcoming 2018 gubernatorial race. It’s time to pay attention to the legislation that affects our community and the legislators that represent us on a local and state level.