The Park Record editorial, July 9-12, 2011 | ParkRecord.com

The Park Record editorial, July 9-12, 2011

WANTED: Small-town leaders to shoulder big responsibilities

While state and national politicos jockey for space in the spotlight, there is a much quieter political story unfolding in small towns throughout Utah this month. From now until next Friday at 5 p.m., local election clerks are propping their office doors open, hoping to help prospective candidates fill out the paperwork to run for seats on their town councils.

However, on the East Side of Summit County, they have not had many takers. As of Friday, July 8, only three candidates had filed to run for the 13 seats up for re-election this November. There were two candidates in Coalville and one in Kamas. But none so far in Oakley, Henefer or Francis.

state statute, three of the four-year seats on every city council in the state will be on this November’s General Election ballot. The other council members and mayors can relax. They won’t be up for re-election until 2013.

But with half of the filing period already over, there aren’t enough candidates to fill the available positions and that could prove disastrous for the communities in North and South Summit. If incumbent councilors don’t want to run again and no one comes forward to file, the councils will have to draft members. That not only sidesteps the democratic process, it suggests a worrisome lack of civic spirit.

Granted, there isn’t much glory in small-town government. Instead, there is lots of face-to-face contact with constituents and elbow grease. If you attended any of the Fourth of July events in Henefer or Oakley, chances are you saw your elected officials grilling hamburgers, taking rodeo tickets, refereeing potato-sack races and organizing the parades. Last winter, if you lived in Francis, it’s likely that a council member knocked on your door during the snowstorms to check on your welfare. In Coalville, council members show up to do everything from filling sandbags to planting trees and last week in Kamas, the council helped host horse-drawn wagon rides. And all those extra duties don’t include reading lengthy budget documents or attending meetings.

It is a wonder then that so many of the current council members have served multiple terms and that many come from the same families, generation after generation.

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Henefer, Coalville, Oakley, Kamas and Francis have benefited from the leadership of many devoted civil servants. But some of them are ready to retire and are hoping that a new generation of community minded citizens will come forward to take over.

Now is the time. No experience is necessary, just a willingness to help lead your community.

For more information, contact the individual city offices or the Summit County clerk. More information is also available by logging on to: http://www.co.summit.ut.us/government/index.php

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