The Who, What, When, and Why of Town Elections: Part 1

Voting is not only a privilege, it’s a civic duty that can have a huge impact on the future. Local elections may not be as extravagant and widely publicized as federal elections but are actually more impactful on your daily life. Local elections have significant consequences in reality and have a long history of shaping change within a community. Whether it is the guarantee of having healthy drinking water or the benefits of maintained streets and parks and developing infrastructure, these concerns should remain on the forefront of everyone as they consider participating in a city-level election. 

In part 1 of this two-part article series, we will discuss what town positions are elected into office and what their main responsibilities are.

Elected Town Positions:

Every town has the same general governmental structure, though there can be a lot of variance within that structure. Here’s a general list of the different town positions that the community elects into office:

  • Mayor
  • City Council Members
  • School Board Members

Each elected position plays a vital role in town operations. Let’s take a look at what these roles are.

Roles of Elected Town Positions:

We elect representatives to craft policy for us and create policies that will address specific issues that impact a constituent’s life directly daily. Most states elect local authorities to serve in three key administrative branches: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. The Mayor fulfills the Executive functions, the City Council or Commissioners perform Legislative, and the District Attorney or City Attorney implements Legal procedures.

Here’s a brief description of each function, with its core responsibilities:

  1. City Manager — In charge of the day-to-day operations of the city and answers to the Council
  2. The City Council — Has the final vote on lawmaking, policies and the city budget approval
  3. District Attorney/City Attorney — Investigate and bring issues to trial, prosecute criminal offenses and make sentencing recommendations
  4. School Board — Decides how and what students are learning by setting policies, curriculums, and budgets for the school district

Community members elect individuals to fill each of these positions, and that means your vote directly relates to how your community is operated, but only if you vote! For part 2, we will cover the terms of each position and break down the election schedule for Yountville and how to stay notified for upcoming elections.

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