Old people do local government work [Report to the People] – Reading eagle

Local government can be one of the most overlooked elements impacting our daily lives. Whether it’s emergency response services, local park maintenance, snow removal, or road maintenance, there’s a long list of services we use every day without even realizing it. account.

The Pennsylvania Local Government Commission (LGC) is a bicameral, bipartisan legislative body of the Pennsylvania General Assembly of which I am fortunate to be a member. As a member, I hear about the needs of local governments from all over the Commonwealth. With such a diversity of communities in Pennsylvania, the issues at the top may vary, but they all have a few commonalities.

For example, in communities in Pennsylvania, older people currently fill important roles in local government. The LGC recently surveyed 866 city officials to get a sense of current demographics. The survey revealed that the average age of municipal officials is 60.8 years old. Overall, about 74% of municipal civil servants are 55 or older. And 12% are over 75 years old.

Older officials bring many positive attributes to the table. On the one hand, they tend to be in office longer and have more experience in managing the ins and outs of local government. The survey also revealed that older respondents tend to have lived in their municipality for more than 20 years. This is a tremendous asset that gives public servants valuable insight into what is needed and enables them to develop deep community connections that are crucial at the local level.

While civic-minded seniors are currently providing a firm hand at the helm of local governments throughout Pennsylvania, they won’t be around forever. When older public servants decide it’s time to retire, we’ll need people who are ready to fill those roles and carry on the work of local government. During the last cycle, nearly half of the local elected representatives ran unopposed in the primary and general elections.

Luckily for Berks County, last year we had our fair share of amazing young leaders who stepped up and took an interest in the communities they call home. Last month, a number of young civil servants were sworn in to serve as city council members, ward mayors and township supervisors. These young local leaders have a bright future ahead of them in the public service.

This is an encouraging development which I hope will become a trend. The LGC survey found that city officials believe resident apathy, which is often more prevalent among younger residents, is one of the biggest issues facing their community. The election of young leaders suggests that apathy may not be taking hold as strongly in parts of Berks County as in other parts of the Commonwealth.

What older adults in local government can do is start encouraging others around them to get involved. After all, who knows more about the importance of local government than the civil servants who spend every day making sure the services we rely on are in place? They are in a perfect position to talk about the importance of the work they do and why it needs to continue.

Judy Schwank is a state senator for the 11th district. Its Reading District office is located at 210 George Street, Muhlenberg Township. Contact her at 610-929-2151, [email protected] or visit her website www.senatorschwank.com or www.facebook.com/senatorjudyschwank.