The Presidential election is the most active and cared about election, but is the one which has the least impact on voter's lives. While the president may be the figure head of our country, he has no true influence over our day to day lives. Your local elections are the true arenas where you wield your voting power.
Mayors, local judges, city councilmen, sheriffs, etc. are the people that create, interpret, and enforce the laws that affect your life day in and day out. So if you want to see true changes in your community and daily life you must vote locally. When voting locally you should research your candidates to find out if they support or oppose things that you care about. Knowing will help you make a more informed decisions rather than just voting strictly by party associations. Join or create local groups that help the community stay informed about issues that need to be changed or policies that strengthen the community. Use these groups to communicate and influence your locally elected officials to acknowledge and act on concerns that are important to you and your neighbors.
The next level of voting pertains to your state representatives which are your senators and congressmen, who are an extension of your local elected officials. Again we have a situation where these elected officials are more critical than that of the presidency. These officials create, interpret, and enforce laws that affect your state as a whole. It is important to know these representatives as have dual affects on your life. The first is that they have an impact on state wide policies that can trickle down and influence your local communities. Secondly they help to shape and run the country as a whole. Therefore you should know what type of policies this representative support and reject. These representatives are apart of a check and balance system as it pertains to the president. So while you have less of an influence over who will be president, you can make sure that you have someone who has your best interest in mind when it comes to presidential policies. So again Presidential elections don't matter as much as your local elections, so be informed and turnout whenever there is a vote in your community because it will directly effect you and your family.