It's Election Day. While today’s outcomes won’t decide the next United States president or give you the opportunity to toss out members of Congress (which two-thirds of small-business owners apparently wouldn’t mind), many state and local offices—from mayors to city council members to state legislators—are on the ballot. Two states, New Jersey and Virginia, also have governor races today.
These election “off years,” as they’re known, are notorious for low voter turnout. Many cities and states are lucky if more than 20 percent of the electorate show up to vote on an off year.
Yet the outcomes of local elections can arguably have the most direct and visible impact on small businesses and the overall local economic climate. Local and state officials make decisions about local tax rates and how tax dollars are spent, regulations and ordinances and city spending priorities. The planning commission decides which building projects to approve and the future landscape of your local community. The local school district’s levy decides how much you’ll pay in property taxes.
Beyond the local and state officials running, many states and local governments have referendums on the ballot that can affect their economic and political landscapes for decades to come. New York State voters, for example, are deciding today on whether to allow Las Vegas-style casinos throughout the state. That type of decision may not only mean business opportunities for some entrepreneurs, but it could also affect the socioeconomic dynamic of communities in the state.
Though it’s easy for business owners to discount the importance of voting in an off year, that may be short-sighted. The races on the ballot today could have greater impact on your business than you realize.
Read more articles on local government.
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