Local Civic Challenge #1: Get familiar with your local gov


Below is an excerpt from the original article at The Jefferson Center's site at

"To kick off the first week of the Local Civic Challenge, we want you to learn more about the ins and outs of your city government! That includes how it operates, whos involved, and ways you can give feedback. Once youre done, youll be more familiar with how the system works, and you might even have some ideas on the ways things could be improved.

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1. Locate your citys charter

In the United States, city charters usually define the organization, power, functions, and procedures of local government. Not all states allow local governments to create their own charters, so double check this list before your search.

2. Find out if your mayor is strong or weak

This isnt a comment on your mayors effectiveness (thats a different conversation), but their level of authority on local issues. In a strong mayor system, mayors are directly elected, and can make appointments and veto legislation. Meanwhile, most weak mayors are elected from within the city council, and do not have veto powers or executive authority on most matters. Yours may not be entirely one or the other, either!

3. Give some feedback

Whats one thing you think your local government is doing well? What could they improve on, and do you have any suggestions for them? Make a list, then head to your citys website to find who to contact. Most have phone numbers and email addresses for different departments, from parks & rec to public works, so you can reach out to the right people..."

Read #4 - #6 at