With new mayors due to be sworn in for Park City and Coalville and a handful of new city council members also due to take office, it is an excellent time for residents to resolve to become active participants in their local government as well.
On the most basic level, that means paying attention to local issues and offering feedback both positive and negative when called for. Too often, residents say they have been blindsided by new regulations, when in fact the changes were noticed, input invited and public hearings held weeks, if not months in advance.
There is probably nothing more frustrating to local officials than being criticized for not listening when, in fact, no one showed up for multiple, well-advertised public hearings. When citizens do show up, many have found that elected officials have been eager to hear their suggestions and are more than willing to incorporate them into their deliberations.
For those longing for greater involvement, Summit County's small-town boards and committees are always recruiting volunteers. Serving in that capacity is a great way to learn more about the inner workings of grass-roots democracy and to make a difference in your own backyard.
For those more comfortable working outside the system, there are lots of examples of local activists who have brought about tangible change by petitioning city hall for new initiatives like pedestrian walkways, affordable housing and public transit. Concerned citizens have also been successful in halting new developments, curbing government spending and holding government officials accountable for their mistakes.
But perhaps the highest calling for a democratic citizen is to lay it all on the line and run for an elected position. This year, numerous county, state and federal positions will be up for election and it is not too early to consider whether it is your turn to step forward.
In Summit County the four-year terms for all seven department heads are coming to a close. The offices of county attorney, sheriff, clerk, treasurer, assessor, auditor and recorder will be up for election. Two of the county's five council members, Chris Robinson and Dave Ure are also up for re-election. The elections are partisan but individuals may file as independents.
A number of school board seats will also be open in North and South Summit and Park City.
At the state level all of the seats in the House of Representatives will be on the ballot, including the three in Summit County now held by Reps. Kraig Powell, Brian King and Mel Brown. The senate seat for District 26 which covers Summit County and is held Sen. Kevin VanTassell is on the ballot, too.
On the federal level all of the House seats, including Rep. Rob Bishop's will be in contention.
If you think you can do a better job than any of the current office holders, please consider filing.
The filing window for all county, state and federal offices is March 14-20. A primary election to narrow the field of candidates is scheduled June 24. For more information about filing requirements go to: http://elections.utah.gov/ , or http://www.co.summit.ut.us/
Whether you have ambitions of becoming a victor on election night or simply being a more vocal contributor at a town meeting, this is the year to show Washington, D.C. how democracy should work.