Ames EDC

A Guide to Local Politics: How You Can Get Involved in 2020

Posted on 01/22/2020 at 09:00 AM by Drew Kamp

As we start the new year and find ways to be more engaged and involved in the Ames and Story County community in 2020, there are plenty of opportunities to be involved in the governing and policy making process. The old adage that all politics is local still rings true, and this is evident in many of the ways citizens can be involved in the public policy process throughout 2020.

There are ample opportunities to be involved throughout the calendar year, including the 2020 State Legislative Session, which starts on January 13th and should conclude by April 21st; the 2020 Democratic Caucuses on February 3rd, volunteering for a Board or Commission at the state or local level, Ames Day at the Capitol on March 17th, the Ames Chamber of Commerce Washing ton, D.C. Fly-In on May 19th-21st, the 2020 Primary Election on June 2nd, the 2020 General Election on November 3rd, to name a few.

There are several critical policy issues being considered in the 2020 Legislative Session, and it is important to stay informed and advocate on policy priorities, such as the need for talent to address Iowa’s workforce development challenges, investment in economic development, cultivation of a strong business climate, and investing in Iowa’s transportation network and critical infrastructure. The Ames Chamber of Commerce advocates tirelessly for our members priorities, but we are the most impactful and successful when you provide your insight, experience, and voice throughout the legislative process.

As Iowa residents, we are all well aware it has been Caucus season for some time, but as the Iowa Democratic Caucuses quickly approach on February 3rd, it is important to remain informed and participate in the electoral process. Though this year’s Caucuses are only for the Democratic candidates, and only registered Democrats can participate, voters need to be informed heading into election season. Therefore, as we work to retain our first in the nation status, Iowans need to capitalize on the access we have to all candidates and educate ourselves to make sure the best possible candidate is elected.

Another way to give back and be engaged in a very meaningful manner is to volunteer for one of the many Boards and Commissions available at the state and local level. There are always ample opportunities to serve at the city, county, and state level, and these technical committees play a key role in the vetting of public policy. In Ames, boards and commissions are filled at the recommendation of the Mayor. The City accepts applications for local boards and commissions until February 5th and is always in need of quality applicants looking to serve their community. The Story County Board of Supervisors is also frequently in need of quality members for their boards and commissions as well. Interested individuals can apply on the county’s website and can always inquire with any of the three Supervisors to learn how their talents may best be utilized. Finally, the State of Iowa also has a wide array of boards and commissions citizens can serve on. The Governor makes these appointments throughout the year, and interested individuals can apply online for positions via the Iowa Talent Bank. Members of boards and commissions may not always get a lot of attention, but they all serve pivotal roles in Iowa’s state and local governments, and provide elected officials valuable technical assistance and expertise.

Annually, the Ames Chamber of Commerce sends a delegation of key Ames and Story County business, community, and institutional leaders to the nation’s capital for our Annual Washington, D.C. Fly-In. While in DC, the delegation meets with all of Iowa’s federal elected officials, the White House, and key federal agencies to present and discuss the priorities of our members. It is a great opportunity to engage our elected officials and learn more about critical policy issues, but it is also an excellent opportunity to meet key community leaders and develop relationships with them during this 3-day excursion.

With this being a Presidential election year, not only are the Iowa Caucuses in February, the Primary Election is on June 2nd, and the General Election is on November 3rd. While it is always important for people to participate in the electoral process, the 2020 General Election may bring a record number of individuals to the polls, so it is important that all voters educate themselves, so they can make an informed decision. In the Primary, voters will vote for the United States Senate, United States House, applicable state offices, and applicable county offices for their respective party. In the General Election, voters will cast ballots for President/Vice President, United States Senate, United States House, applicable state offices, and applicable county offices.  As in past years, the Ames Chamber of Commerce will provide an array of election resources to ensure all members are adequately prepared before heading to the polls.

Finally, there are always a wide assortment of plans being undertaken by the City of Ames that are important for Chamber members to know about. In 2020, the City will finalize the Ames 2040 Comprehensive Plan, , which will guide the city’s priorities for the next 20-years, the Long Range Transportation Plan, which will guide our transportation and infrastructure planning through 2045, the Ames Municipal Airport Master Plan, which will guide operations at the Airport through 2040, the Downtown Parking Study, which will set the stage for current and future parking throughout Downtown Ames, the development and adoption of the FY2021 budget, which will guide Ames’ funding priorities through June 30, 2021, and the Capital Improvements Plan, which will prioritize capital expenditures for the five-year period of FY2021-FY2025. Each of these plans take a substantial amount of time to complete, and it is important that Ames Chamber of Commerce members play an active role in the development of each, as the voice of the business community always needs to be heard.

As you can see, there is no shortage of opportunities for Ames Chamber of Commerce members to be actively engaged in the public policy process in 2020. Now all you have to do is take advantage of them.

Categories: Enhancing Community

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