The Levers of Power in Local Government

by Hon. Jon Russell

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Though different in each state, municipal government in the United States is extremely
important to the understanding of federalism. The genius of the Founders’ federalism
was in diffusing power between different layers of government. Understanding the
fact that local government is closest to self-governance is necessary to a more
complete understanding of distribution of power in American government. This
guide was created with the intention of producing a comprehensive look at local
government as well as an understanding of the different structures.
When the Founders created a federal system of government in the Constitution,
they were very specific about the national government, less specific about state
governments and not at all specific about local governments. As a result, local
governments have been free to develop and meet the particular needs of the
communities in which they exist as permitted by state law.

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