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Local democracy in the United States will have to be strengthened state-by-state and local government by local government.

In many states, the inclusive and responsive nature of local governments is limited by state law: for instance, state law may limit the powers of local governments; may limit the number of representatives that comprise the local government council or board; may prevent the election of local executives (and thus, limit checks and balances); and may limit local governments from using more representative election mechanisms. As such, state-level reforms will be needed to ensure democratic and representative local governance.

At the local level, local governments don’t always use the mechanisms available to them to be as inclusive and representative as possible. Options for local level reforms include making sure that the mechanisms of democratic representation are as inclusive as possible (as permitted by state law), and ensuring that the local government operates in an inclusive, transparent and responsive manner.