Civic responsibility: Get involved with your local government
~First published in the Burlington Times-News in 2016, section A10
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.
Meetings open to the public:
County, municipal, and education board meetings are open to the public, and meetings are held at regular times each month. A complete schedule is listed below. For meetings beyond the council or alder level. such as local planning board meetings, check individual websites for dates and locations.
Alamance County Commissioners meet at 9 a.m. the first Monday of each month and 7 p.m. on the third Monday of each month in the Commissioners Room. If the meeting location has been moved, it will be posted on the County website: www.alamance-nc.com
Alamance-Burlington Board of Education meets at 6:30 p.m. on the fourth Monday of each month in the ABSS Central Office Auditorium.
Village of Alamance Alder meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Monday of each month in the Town Hall. Meeting is held on the third Monday, May through December. www.villageofalamance.com
City of Burlington Council meets at 7 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays in the Municipal Building. www.burlingtonnc.gov
Town of Elon Alder meets at 6 p.m. on the second Tuesday in the Town Hall. www.elonnc.com
Town of Gibsonville Alder meets at 7 p.m. on the first and third Mondays in the Municipal Building. www.gibsonville.net
City of Graham Council meets at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday in the Municipal Building. www.cityofgraham.com/
Town of Green Level Council meets at 7 p.m. on the second Thursday in the Green Level Center. greenlevelnc.com/
Town of Haw River Council meets at 7 p.m. on the first Monday in the Municipal Building. www.townofhawriver.com/
City of Mebane Council meets at 6 p.m. on the first Monday in City Hall. www.cityofmebane.com
Town of Ossipee Council meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Monday in the Altamahaw-Ossipee Community Center. townofossipee.com
Town of Swepsonville Council meets at 7 p.m. on the third Tuesday in the Swepsonville Fire Department. www.swepsonvilletownof.net