With the 2023 Legislative Session quickly approaching, we thought our readers would like to hear directly from some of the “champions” that back local decision-making in Tallahassee.
State Senator Ed Hooper cut his teeth on the Clearwater City Council where he learned what real elected representation was all about. We asked Senator Hooper if he agreed with Thomas Jefferson that government closest to the people governs best. Here’s what he said:
“Any elected official can tell you about their district, but it’s the one whom has their ear on the hearts and minds of their constituency that governs the best. I learned as a Clearwater City Commissioner that representation is not only about knowing the issues but staying informed of the consensus on various policies from your electorate. Those of us fortunate enough to serve in government not only have this duty, but it is in the best interest of all parties to ensure the decision-making process includes the people themselves. Leading with proactive discussions involving everyone affected will always yield the most effective government!”
Before Dan Daley served in the Florida House of Representatives, he was a Coral Springs City Commissioner and Vice Mayor. He knows firsthand that Florida’s local communities are both unique and diverse — and that it’s important to allow them the flexibility to fix local problems. We asked him how local decision-making helps residents. His response:
“I know this concept to be true, and it has become my guiding principle when it comes to good government. From my time as City Commissioner and Vice Mayor for the City of Coral Springs, I learned that there are incredibly unique problems that arise in one community that may not be able to be solved with a solution intended for all of Florida. By following the right to Home Rule enshrined in Article VIII of Florida’s Constitution, local governments can draw from the community’s consensus on an issue to solve it in the manner the residents see fit.”
Representative Melony Bell has a passion for local leadership born from her time serving as City Commissioner, and later Mayor, for the City of Ft. Meade. States are often called “laboratories for democracy.” The idea is that they experiment with public policy and, eventually, the best ideas are picked up and implemented by other states. We asked Rep. Bell if the same thing is true of cities, towns and villages—are they also “laboratories for democracy?” Her reply:
“I would say this applies to municipal governments due to their close proximity to the problems and their ability to experiment with several solutions based on the preference of the local citizens. I like to think of these foundational levels of government as the front line for solving policy predicaments. When I was the Mayor of Fort Meade, I enjoyed the benefit of addressing issues head-on in a manner that best suited our community during our monthly commission meetings. While the same solution may not fit every municipality, we frequently see similar issues arise across the state, providing the opportunity for each consider how other municipalities have approached the problem when finding their own solutions. To this end, one can certainly call each individual attempt by a local municipality to solve a problem an experiment in the laboratory for democracy; one that our Founding Fathers would be proud to see!”
Local Voices United is thankful for champions like Senator Hooper, Representative Daley and Representative Bell for being a voice for local decision-making in Tallahassee. If you have a moment, consider taking action by sending these local leaders an email thanking them for their support by clicking here.