Why State and Local Elections Matter

Run for Something
4 min readJun 23, 2022

State and local politics play a critical role in shaping the reality of our country AND our day-to-day lives. Are the roads in your town screwed up? That’s a city council or state legislature problem. Pissed off about the removal of mask mandates in your school district? Talk to the members of your school board. Are you fuming about the looming repeal of Roe v. Wade? All of that started in state legislatures.

We know the stakes and we know what can be lost if we don’t elect strong progressive leaders to general assembly, city council, and school board. That’s why we need you to run for something local.

Take a closer look at why state and local politics are the cornerstone of our society.


When we have progressive leaders in state and local government, we are more likely to see policies that positively impact our most underserved communities passed, and policies that hurt our constituents, blocked.

A good example: Colorado State Representative Brianna Titone (who, by the way, was the first trans state lawmaker in the state!) has introduced bills that support reproductive care and pushed to halt the penalization of marijuana use. Representative Titone’s work in the CO state legislature has opened up much-needed conversations around state-funded reproductive resources, such as menstrual products, and forced discussions on the disproportionate number of Black and Brown men arrested for marjiuana use in CO. Rep. Titone is one of many: as more young progressives run for office — and win — we see policies introduced that promote equity and fairness.

A bad example: The impending repeal of Roe v. Wade started at the state level. It is not hyperbole to say that if we had more progressive leaders in state legislatures in blue and red states — like Senator Megan Hunt of Nebraska — the repeal of Roe would not be on the table almost 50 years after it was originally passed.

This same theory of progress also stands at the local level. In Austin, Texas, District Attorney Jose Garza made a commitment to address unfair policing once elected to office. The DA made good on his promise: In 2021, he indicted 21 APD police officers for their conduct towards civilians during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests.

While this indictment may seem small, it sets a huge precedent in Texas, across the country, and highlights the good work that can be accomplished when the right people are leading.

Simply put: If we want to see good policies, we need to have good leaders — like you — making the decisions.


When young, diverse, progressive candidates that center people and the issues they care most about run, we create a new generation of trusted leaders who can go into halls of power equipped and ready to make real change. You know your neighbors and they know you. These relationships mean that your neighbors are more likely to engage in the democratic process and trust you as an elected official.

Downballot elections also have a major impact on how folks perceive the “top of the ticket.” New research, commissioned by Run for Something and For Our Future, shows candidates running for state and local offices were responsible for increasing turnout for statewide or national candidates aka the Reverse Coattails Effect. That’s a fancy way of saying when a local trusted candidate (like you) appears on the ballot, more people vote, and that gives a bump to the candidates running for those fancy offices like Governor, Senator or President. By throwing your hat in the ring locally, you’re helping defend democracy nationally.


You can’t be what you don’t see. Our country is (and continues to be) run as a gerontocracy — a very White, male, cisgender, hetero system mostly dominated by older people. Although Millennials and Gen Z make up the majority of the U.S. population, and racial groups like Latinos and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are rapidly growing, they are all drastically underrepresented at every level of government. The political establishment has failed to empower, support, and train the next generation of young, diverse talent. This has a few implications:

  1. Young progressive leaders are being ignored and are unable to make critical changes that improve the lives of their constituents in real-time as elected officials.
  2. The issues of young and traditionally underserved people are not being prioritized or properly addressed at any level of government. The most pressing issues for young folks — racial justice, climate actions, and student debt — are being pushed aside again and again.
  3. Running at the state and local level creates a pipeline of ready-to-serve leaders at the national level. The city council members and school board members of today are tomorrow’s Congressional members and Vice-Presidents. This doesn’t happen if we don’t start the work right here, right now, right where you are.

The way to improve our democracy is by starting at the state and local level. We can begin to build the changes we want to see federally at the municipal level. We can provide safeguards for our most vulnerable communities as state reps when our federal government fails. We have the power to improve things: it just doesn’t begin at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

So Now You Know. But What Can You Do?

Run. It’s just that simple. If you are ready to be a part of the change we deserve, sign up with us today and learn more about open seats in your community and how we can — and will — help you run for something.



Run for Something

Recruiting & supporting young people running for office. Building a Democratic bench. Want to help? hello@runforsomething.net