Small town quality of life depends on committed citizens
July 7, 2007
Small town elected officials would probably be the first to admit that the hassles of public service often outweigh the rewards. So, as council members of Summit County’s six incorporated towns and cities near the end of their four-year terms, it is no surprise that many are having a hard time deciding whether to re-up for another tour of duty.
As we have reported, the state-mandated window for filing to run for municipal office is a bit earlier this year it opened Monday and ends July 16. But in the hubbub of the Fourth of July holiday and the overall commotion of a busy summer, some citizens, particularly on the East Side of the county, may not have realized that the time to come to the aid of their community is now.
It could be argued, especially in towns like Coalville, Kamas and Oakley where generations of the same families have made sure their neighbors have water, streetlights and not too many potholes, that civic duty is a genetic trait.
But as those towns grow, and the job of running them gets harder and oftentimes more contentious, many of the old timers say they ready to hand over the reins. Unfortunately, though, there seems to be a dearth of citizens willing to take their places.
Unlike Park City, where local activism is a widely held mantra, the more rural towns on the east side are having an especially tough time finding willing candidates to sit on the town boards. Maybe some of the new residents haven’t yet bonded with their new communities or maybe they are suffering from urban flight syndrome, one symptom of which is to pull the curtains shut and refuse to engage in local politics at all. Others fear their lack of political expertise is reason enough not to try. But in a few years, they may regret not taking a more active role in helping to guide the future of their new neighborhoods.
With growth pressure bearing down on the East Side’s rolling ranchlands the next several years will be critical for Henefer, Coalville, Oakley, Kamas and Francis. Whether today’s residents still feel comfortable in their towns a decade from now will be determined by those who sign up to run for office this coming week. For more information about running for a seat on your town council call Summit County Clerk Kent Jones, 615-3203
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