There is no government that affects the daily lives of local business owners and stakeholders more than local government. So why is local voter turnout historically less than 20% of eligible voters?
On April 6th, Edmond residents will vote for a new mayor and two new city council seats, and now it’s more important than ever that small businesses participate in the election process.
Start with the basics
To grasp the impact of your vote, it’s helpful to understand the roles and influence of each elected official.
Edmond operates under a Council-Manager form of government in which the mayor and council are the policymaking, legislative body. The city council then appoints the city manager, city attorney, and municipal judges.
The city council also reviews and appoints members for more than two dozen boards and commissions. Some of these include the Capital Improvement Projects Advisory Board, the Central Edmond Urban District Board, the Edmond Economic Development Authority Board, and the Edmond Planning Commission, all of which directly affect local businesses.
These boards and commissions advise the council, suggest policies, and gather community feedback to ensure the current council members and policies are properly serving Edmond.
When you vote for a council member, you’re voting for their ideas and values that will ultimately span across all areas of local government.
Understand the scope
One main function of the city council is monitoring and approving the city’s annual budget. Council members are the stewards of local tax dollars, ensuring your contributions are spent well within the community.
Want to ensure the budget aligns with your needs as a business owner? Vote for a candidate who understands the local business community and supports development programs like the Edmond Economic Incentive Policy.
Beyond budget, the city council also upholds the city charter, approves development plans, sets tax rates, and regulates land use through zoning laws, all of which can make or break a new venture or business expansion.
Use your voice
The mission for the council states they will serve “as stewards of assets for today’s, as well as tomorrow’s, community and city.” Each year, the Edmond City Council creates a strategic plan outlining the specific goals and policies of focus for the coming year. The plan serves as a guide for city council decisions and provides performance benchmarks for the community to understand their priorities and measure council effectiveness.
The council is there to support and serve the city and its residents, and they want to hear from you! If you have questions, concerns, ideas or feedback, reach out to your councilmember via email, phone call, or city council meeting. Council meetings take place at 5:30 pm on the second and fourth Monday of each month at the Council Chambers and always include a time set aside for citizen comments.
Three out of five council seats are up for grabs in 2021: Mayor, Ward 3, and Ward 4. In local elections with a smaller pool of voters, your vote truly does matter and could make a difference in the future of Edmond.
What can business owners do to ensure their interests are heard? Learn more about each candidate, show up to vote, participate in city council meetings, and consider applying for one of the many boards and commissions in Edmond.
The Edmond Chamber of Commerce is the voice for business in the community and is committed to providing information, resources and opportunities for business owners and stakeholders to be involved in local government.
The Chamber is hosting a Candidate Forum on February 23rd with the top two vote-getters in each of the three races. Attendees can hear from candidates and ask questions about what they plan to do if elected to city council.
To register for the Candidate Forum, visit EdmondChamber.com/Forum.
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About Ashley Neese
Ashley Neese is the Communications and Marketing Manager at the Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce where she promotes Chamber events and helps members gain exposure. She also leads the Edmond Young Professionals organization and the Chamber’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.
Ashley grew up in Edmond and graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma in 2017 with a degree in Mass Communication. In her free time, she enjoys brewing coffee and finding the best local eats.