by McKenzie Stalkenburg

Every now and then we will need to engage with politicians, or we will have zero impact on the decisions that impact our lives long term. It is hard to tell if your elected local politician really cares about the issues that matter to you, and you will need to be diligent when you choose who to vote for or engage with. No matter if you already have a political or ideological view or not, voting for local elections is more important than you think. While those in the White House  make the big strategic decisions it is the local politicians who work for communities and on improving people’s lives. Below you will find a few tips on how to decide whether or not the person deserves your vote.

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Image via BestColleges.com

Check Their Records

It is important to do your background check and not to waste your vote on people who don’t deserve your vote. You only have one, so make it count. You can check public records to find out what their background is, what training and qualifications they have achieved, and whether or not they have relevant life experience. There is nothing worse than voting for a politician who is disengaged with the community and doesn’t understand their problems.

Meet Them In Person

If you would like to make an informed decision who to vote for, you will also need to rely on your gut instinct. If you get the chance to meet them at an event or a drop in session, do so, so you can find out more about the person and their values and make a judgement based on how they treat you and communicate with you. They are likely to be present at charity events and local festivals, and you have to make the effort to set up a meeting with them to get the full picture.

Voting History

One thing you have to check is their voting history, so you can decide whether their values are aligned with yours. You can retrieve this from public sources, even government websites, However, you also have to check official and press publications regarding to their activities and votes, so you can see if they prioritize the same issues that matter to you or have no idea about the needs of the community.

Follow Them On Social Media

If you would like to know whether a local politician is interested in what the people in their state care and worry about, it might be a good idea to check out their social media pages. While they are likely to have some help with crafting their messages and PR campaigns, as well as their campaign slogans, their interaction with the public will often tell a different story. If you are interested in the most powerful campaign slogans and messages, you can view here some of them to get a better idea of how professionals try to influence your views.

See the Local Decisions

If you would like to know what they are doing for the people like you and which causes they campaigned for, you can check out meeting minutes and reports, to see which side they usually take. For example, if you live in an ex-industrial town, you might want to know what they did to regenerate the housing stock, attract new businesses and employers, and rebuild communities. If they were not interested in any of them, only did the bare minimum, they might not deserve  your vote.

Check If They Turned Around About Issues Before

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Image via Vice

Integrity is one of the greatest assets a politician can have. It is important that you check whether they keep their word or change their mind. If they are easy to influence, and are motivated by power, you might not want to vote for them. If, however, they have a strong mission and vision statement they stick to every time they vote on local issues, you might have found a person you can rely on long term, at least for the next few years.

Guilt By Association

When assessing politicians, you will also have to check who they are associated with. In fact, you have to make sure that they are not involved with businesses or are likely to turn their decisions to their advantage. If - for example - they support one industry in the region that is likely to reduce the living standards in the region, you might not want to give them your vote. In case they come from a corporate background, you will have to check what industry they are still involved in and whether or not their involvement is likely to influence their future decisions.

Lobbying History

It is also crucial that you check whether or not they are involved in corporate and industrial lobbying. No local politician is immune to influences, but not all of them will sell their soul for an award, an honor or a recognition. It is important that the person you vote for is serving the community first, and the rest of the country second. This might sometimes conflict with their party politics, and they can make a decision to start off as an independent candidate instead, so they can be true to their beliefs.

Public Reputation

Finally, you will have to check the public reputation of the local politician. If they are new to politics, you might want to ask around and find people who used to work with them or were associated with them. The public opinion, scandals, and gossip can influence people’s votes, and you will have to decide whether or not you believe the campaign slogans or the image that surrounds the person.

It is not easy to make sure that you vote for the right person at local elections. Your vote will also have a more immediate effect on your future. It is your responsibility to do your research and engage with the person who is asking for your vote. Check their political and previous career, and ensure that their values are aligned with yours.