Insights to our local politics

The+old+Washington+County+courthouse+is+located+at+the+Mountain+Street+and+College+Avenue+intersection.

Madeline Mitchell

The old Washington County courthouse is located at the Mountain Street and College Avenue intersection.

Gavin Kuncl, Writer

National politics are always on the forefront of the minds of people, with local politics often being put on the back burner or ignored entirely. Despite this, local politics are just as important as national politics, if not more.

It is undeniable that big decisions are made in national politics, however, the large decisions can often be stuck in bureaucratic processes for months on years. local politics are more pressing, as the decisions are almost immediate and are truly local.

Suki Highers, a veteran teacher at Fayetteville High School, as well as a Justice of the Peace for the county government, sat down to give insight into local politics.

“I feel like local politics are of the utmost importance because through local politics all of the things that impact your daily life are there. Anything from the streets that you drive on, to the schools that you go to, jail population,” Highers said.

Highers went on to stress the importance of local politics.

“Everything through the community is built through local politics, whether you participate in it or not. So your city council is making decisions about where things will be built, how things will be zoned, the rules and regulations your local government will follow. The county is a little bit more widespread than that, but the big things that impact you on a daily basis come from your local government.”

Highers explained that the jail is an unpleasant situation, where the local government would have to ask taxpayers for over $38 million dollars.

“We have a situation, where over 400 people are sitting in jail without being convicted of a crime,” Highers said.

Regarding the involvement of citizens in local politics, there are many ways to get informed and or interact.

The Washington County Quorum Court has a calendar of their events posted and available to the public at www.co.washington.ar.us.

“Both Washington County Quorum Court and the city council livestream our meetings on YouTube. You’re always welcome to go to a meeting, we love to have people at meetings, and you can just check the local calendars to see when meetings are. There are a lot of volunteer opportunities on boards, like on the housing board for the City of Fayetteville,” Highers said.

FHS Junior Amelia Southern, an avid activist, also gave advice on getting involved, as well as a pressing issue to the local community.

“So there are a bunch of ways to get involved. The easiest one I keep telling everyone who is 18, is to vote. You have to vote. Your voice matters, even if you don’t think it matters, it completely does matter. Or, you could campaign for politicians who you support or for reasons you think matter. They shape your future or the social-political influences,” Southern said.

Both Highers and Southern focused heavily on the importance of local politics over national politics.

“We are so hyper-focused on what is happening nationally, that a lot of people don’t pay attention to what is happening locally. At least at the county level, most people have no idea that a county level government even exists. We have a lot of people who are not aware of what really happens, what really affects them on a day-to-day basis, while they are very aware of what happens nationally. I think it is the same way for the state, a lot of people don’t pay attention to what comes out of the state. Most of the things that affect education come out of the state,” Highers said.

“Whether what side of the spectrum you are on, whether you don’t really care about politics, or you really are out campaigning, it’s going to affect your everyday life. School, work, how you make a living, what you do. Even if you don’t care about politics, your voice matters, as it affects your daily life,” Southern said.

Southern advised that it is best to take a class about government, giving examples such as AP Gov or AP Comparative politics.

As she is a member of the local government, Highers has an inside take that is hard to understate. Highers went on to express views on her job.

“I’m not sure if I’m happy in government, but I feel like I’m doing good work for the community.”

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