Many of us are now happy to put this election cycle in the rearview mirror. After a fever pitch of emotions, we can now settle into the reality of the next four years. Many of us still have unanswered questions about our government. But we can all be thankful to return to a sense of normal.

Here is my case to make to you. No matter if the candidates you voted for won or lost, we are all still citizens of this great republic. At a time when we have put all our hopes and dreams into the people who run for the highest offices, it’s easy to forget how important our neighbors are. It’s easy to feel dismayed or discounted by the system. But, we the people are the system. If you aren’t happy with the results of the election, then you have the opportunity to do something about it.

How many issues were raised during the campaign that affect each of us on a daily basis? What about the devastating epidemic of drug addiction and abuse, an education system that struggles to prepare children, or an economy in transition, just to name a few? Ask yourself this question: is anyone from Washington D.C. going to swoop in and make life better for us in rural Ohio by waving a magic wand? Of course not. Regardless of who gets elected, the only people who can lead our communities are those of us who live in them.

If you are looking for the people who can change our towns for the better, look up and down the streets where you live. Look at yourself. You have the power, the opportunity, the responsibility to serve your friends and neighbors. No one on the nightly news has the answers to move us forward. That’s because no one on the nightly news understands the day-to-day experiences we have living in Tiffin or Fremont or Gibsonburg or Fostoria. But we do. We are very fortunate to have individuals here at home who understand what it means to work as a team, to roll their sleeves up to get the job done. I am honored to continue working alongside committed local leaders to serve our fellow citizens.

So in the coming days and weeks, pledge to making a difference. Are you concerned with the pervasiveness of drugs in your neighborhood? Volunteer with the mental health clinics who are helping people get back on their feet. Do you know someone who needs to take a new step in their career? Offer to look over their resume and help them prepare for an interview. Do you know a child who isn’t living up to their potential? Spend an hour a week with them, mentoring and encouraging them.

It’s time to let the anger go. It’s time to turn the page and move on. It’s time to take responsibility for our own communities instead of sourcing it out to distant politicians. We are the ones who will make our communities the best places to live, work and raise a family. Let’s take back our towns and look for leadership where it works best—locally.

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