The end of a calendar year often causes us to reflect on the year’s challenges and successes. Such reflection allows us to approach the new year with (hopefully) a bit more wisdom, lessons learned, and renewed conviction to achieve our goals. This reflection and eye to the future seems particularly important for local governments right now, as they continue to be tasked with responding to the actions (and inaction) of the federal government.

If you work in, or have worked in, local government, you know that local governments are always working to respond to the needs of their constituents. But 2017 seems to have reinvigorated this role in new and demanding ways. Because of the direct impact of federal action and inaction on local communities, many local governments have stepped up to tackle new challenges and existing challenges in new ways:

Throughout all of this, and often because of these federal actions, young people are increasingly running for local elected office.

This past year was just the beginning of a slate of new responsibilities and demands that will continue to face local governments nationwide. Debates surrounding disaster relief funding, healthcare, infrastructure, immigration, affordable housing, and entitlement programs like Medicare– and the role of the federal government therein– are sure to continue. Federal action or inaction on these and other issues will require local governments to fill in the gaps to respond to the needs and demands of local constituents.

Because of the nature of these challenging and technically complex topics, there will be few very clear answers. But that is precisely what makes this work so important; the future of our generation and future generations depends on it.

Jessie is a proud CHF ’12 alumna and Vice President of the CHF Board of Directors. She is currently a Staff Attorney with the National Housing Law Project in Washington, D.C. The views expressed in this post are her own.