Fate of cities and towns turns on finding qualified candidates
May 29, 2015
The DNA of each of Summit County’s six municipalities has been shaped by past council members. Whether the result of dedicated leadership or, at times, shortsighted neglect, their decisions have defined the future for successive generations of residents.
Monday marks the opening of the filing window for the next generation of local leaders. Prospective candidates, including incumbents whose terms are coming to a close, must file between Monday and June 8 if they want to be on November’s municipal election ballots. It is time to think about whether it is your turn to take a leadership role in your community.
Council members’ primary responsibilities include approving or turning down new development and safeguarding their town’s infrastructure, including culinary water, sewer systems and public roadways. They also have the power to establish a wide array of public amenities including parks, commercial districts, sidewalks, trails and pavilions, among others.
Take a walk around Park City, Kamas, Coalville, Francis, Henefer and Oakley and you immediately see legacies left by previous councils: downtown plazas, skate parks, rodeo arenas, historic monuments, public art and playgrounds. Each community has benefited from the efforts of ordinary citizens who stepped up, attended meetings, studied unfamiliar government jargon and made difficult decisions.
And, beyond upholding their respective town codes, council members set the tone for their communities. They can be traditionalists, hell-bent on preserving the status quo, or change agents, hoping to boldly address new challenges, both economic and environmental. Either way, an enthusiastic councilmember can make a big difference in his or her community.
In Park City, Kamas, Oakley and Coalville, three seats on each five-member board are up for election. In Francis and Henefer, which have four-member boards, two seats will be on November’s ballot. In a few cases, where previously elected officials have steps down mid-term, additional seats are up for grabs.
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Municipal candidates do not need to be affiliated with a political party and the election campaigns do not require hefty expenditures. Political capital, instead, is based on involvement in the community and positions on hyper-local issues.
So, take a moment this weekend to evaluate your commitment to your community. Several incumbents around the county, especially those who have served two or more terms are itching to hand over the reins. It isn’t an easy task, but, according to those who have served their time, can be immensely rewarding.
For more information about the filing requirements contact your town clerk or recorder. Then talk to your neighbors and current council members about the specific challenges facing your community. You might be just the right person to meet them.
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