Local action counteracts division


Gabe Kaplan

Gabriel Kaplan

It’s no secret the modern political world is more polarized than ever, but by coming together locally, we can break through the divisiveness. 

Over the past two months, I’ve had the opportunity to manage Larry Kraft’s campaign for the At-Large A seat on City Council — who I chose to support not only for his incredible compassion for others, but also because of his emphasis on youth involvement and the environment. Each Sunday, Monday and Thursday, we get together with several other volunteers to doorknock, text and call our neighbors. At the beginning of the campaign, I was very nervous to knock on strangers’ doors and call unknown numbers, but as the weeks went by, I learned to look forward to each of our outings and the opportunity to get to know a new part of the city.

Each knocked door offers a new story and the opportunity to learn more about the diverse and incredibly interesting group of people that call St. Louis Park home. As we’ve progressed through the 16 precincts of the city, I’ve been able to build connections with individuals across the community and get a sense for what each neighborhood is like.

In many ways, local politics are the not-so-sexy remedy to the dividing effects of national news. Although everyone has a different take on who should win the democratic primary or what to do about impeachment, each person I’ve talked to over the campaign agrees on improving our schools and building a safer community.

Discussing local issues brings out the best in people, uniting neighborhoods under common interests and ideas. Especially in a city like St. Louis Park where our differences hold us together, local politics are a key mechanism in creating a strong, tight-knit community throughout the city.

In addition to holding St. Louis Park together, I’ve found local politics to be an incredible outlet for political angst. There is not much any of us can do to address federal issues, but by working at the city level, we can create change that ripples through the system.

The core of all big movements lies in grassroots action, which occurs locally such as in the upcoming elections for School Board and City Council. I got involved because of Larry’s call for more comprehensive climate action. Even though electing Larry would only be a small step toward fighting climate change, it would still have an impact.

Take a look at what St. Louis Park did back in 2018. The City Council passed the most robust climate action plan in the state, and among the most ambitious in the nation. Even though we are only a small suburb, our policy had a ripple effect nationwide leading to the creation of climate action plans in scores of other cities. This goes to show our local politics really do matter.

If you ever are frustrated with what’s happening on the national stage, I encourage you to get involved here at home. Knock on some doors, volunteer with a favorite candidate of yours, call your neighbors. Whatever you do will certainly be more productive than worrying at home or debating on the internet, and it has the chance to make a real impact.