This really should be titled as a “Pamphlet Review,” but it’s no big deal. Also, please remember that this manual is written for New Jersey citizens! This manual is a product of the Center for Civic Responsibility and is authored by Harry S. Pozycki. I believe that this manual is an important read for anyone who intends on or is thinking about becoming engaged in local politics. Some of the points addressed in the manual are extremely relevant given many of the town meetings that I have attended.
One of Pozycki’s best points is about how local citizens can act for change in a community or a region. He details the need to be well-versed on the subject area that you seek a change in and he talks about how one must show respect to those in elected positions. In other words, don’t storm into a council meeting and demand that a business be condemned because you think they are too loud in the morning! Instead, speak with the business and try to handle the problem yourself. If that does not work, then speak with neighbors to get their views and – if support exists – prepare a petition that asks the town council to sanction the business unless certain guidelines are met. And at all times, be very respectful to everyone around you because remember – most of the people who are in positions of power are not paid to be there.
Pozycki also does a nice job of explaining how the planning board and school board has a great deal of power to make significant changes in local municipalities. Many times people overlook these two entities and make all of their judgment calls based directly on the town council. That’s not only not fair to the hard working men and women on the planning and school boards, but it does not do much to accomplish and real change in an area.
One of the best pieces of this manual is that it tells people about party committee seats. These are seats that are elected locally and election district-specific. The folks who serve as committee seat-holders are the ones who get to help decide a specific political party’s slate of candidates and who will fill the holes left by retirements or elected officials stepping down. This is a great way for a local person to become engaged in the political process, though you usually only find Republican and Democratic party committee seats…options that not too many of New Jersey folks may find appealing!
There are a variety of other topics covered in this manual. The manual is written in a way that cuts through the BS and gets right down to business. You can download this manual download as a PDF by clicking here. I highly suggest giving the manual a read if you are into this type of stuff!