Actions speak louder than votes
Getting involved is more important than voting. Engineering expert Robert B. Johnson said 'the world is run by those who show up'.
Elected officials do their best to make high level decisions on your behalf and in your best interest. In elections, we delegate authority to them, and occasionally they make mistakes on our behalf. For such a high profile and thankless job though, it's fortunate that we have people who are willing and usually able to do it.
Voting is not enough. To really make a difference, you need to care enough to actually do something. You're interested. You're talented. Your actions speak louder than words or votes. You know best where your help is needed.
Making things happen often means doing them yourself. In a community context, that can mean going it truly alone, volunteering with an organization or a cause that you believe in, or getting involved in the political process to make your views heard by the people who you've charged with making decisions.
Some things that you want to accomplish will be bigger than you can handle, and that's ok. Bigger things just mean you need help, and the more help you have, the easier it will be. Have the vision. Tell people about it. Rally them around the idea. Make it happen.
Being involved in something that matters to you has a social payoff for you as well. It's a great way to meet other like-minded people.
Vote, but don't fool yourself into thinking it's enough. Laziness and apathy don't get things changed. Vision and action do. This is real grassroots democracy. Your 'vote' is proportional to how much you care and how hard you're willing to work to improve the situation.
Change doesn't happen at the ballot box; it happens when people get involved in building and shaping their community, and it doesn't wait for election cycles. It starts when you see something you want to change, and there's lots of room for improvement.