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COMMENTARY: Thank you for voter participation

League of Women Voters Park Rapids (LWVPRA) would like to congratulate all the citizens of Hubbard County for voting in record numbers in this last election.

Also thank you for supporting and attending our candidate forums. We can all take some time to breathing a huge sigh of relief that all the campaign ads are over and think of the holidays.

A citizen's work, however, is not done once the elections are over, whether or not your chosen candidates won. You have the responsibility to keep in touch with those candidates to let them know what needs are important to you that can be affected by the policy they develop.

With internet access, you can email senators and representatives at the state and federal levels or use the old-fashioned snail mail letter. Phone calls are fine, but only to indicate a favorable or unfavorable response to a policy that is going up for a vote. Phone calls are also good if you have a particular issue that your senator or representative might be able to help you with.

Most of your local candidates may also be reached by either email or phone.

If at all possible, it's good to attend at least an occasional local meeting, whether that's your township meetings, city council, county commissioners or school board. It is good to know what issues these governmental bodies are addressing and how they are addressing them. Most meeting times and places can be found online with a short search. Most meetings, except for the county commissioners, are in the evenings. If you have never attended any of these meetings, pick one and commit to attending.

If you have an issue that you would like to bring up, you must contact a member of these governmental bodies to get on the agenda. Don't be afraid to speak up. Remember that these people work for you.

Make citizenship of our country and our local region a commitment. What we do may seem insignificant if you look at how many people are in the country, but numbers don't add up if no one shows up. When you don't show up, or don't keep in touch with your elected officials, you give your power to those who do.

LWVPRA is providing citizens an opportunity to get to know your elected officials better. Your first opportunity is a meet-and-greet with local elected officials that will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29 at the Northwoods Bank community meeting room in Park Rapids. Come for casual conversation over pie and coffee. All are welcome.

LWVPRA is a non-partisan volunteer organization whose mission is to encourage informed and active participation in government and influence public policy through education and advocacy. Please direct any questions about LWVPRA activities, events or on how to join LWVPRA (not for women only) by emailing lwvparkrapidslwvparkrapidsarea.blogspot.com.

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