January 3 editorial
January 2, 2009
Despite the dismal economic and international news, 2008 ended on a somewhat hopeful note. Both locally and nationally, Americans jumped into the political process and turned out in record numbers to vote on Election Day. Now, we hope citizens will carry that energy forward by continuing to pay attention to the grave issues facing the world and our hometowns.
There has been a short hiatus while waiting for the new officials to take office, but once they do they will our need support to turn their promises into policy.
Monday, Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. will be sworn in to serve another term. Last fall he wisely called legislators back to rein in the state’s budget at the onset of the economic downturn. He is now trying to prevent further cuts in education and essential human services. In light of his earlier action, citizens should support his effort to prevent knee-jerk cuts that could do irrevocable damage to schools and families.
Then, on Wednesday, Jan. 7, Summit County will swear in its first county council. The old three-member commission will give way to five councilors: Sally Elliott, Claudia McMullin, John Hanrahan, Chris Robinson and David Ure. After a brief ceremony, they are expected to get right to work selecting a chairperson and assigning committee responsibilities. Then, on Friday they will meet again in special session to begin setting and prioritizing their goals for the coming year.
Like the governor, they will be challenged by the shifting financial winds around them and may have to make spending cuts. After so many years of prosperity, saying no to new projects will be not be easy.
Council members, while busy defining their own new roles, are also charged with hiring a county manager. Choosing the right person one who can communicate with constituents in all regions of the county is crucial to the success of the new form of government and will be an exhausting process.
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Last, but not least, on Jan. 20, Barack Obama will be sworn in as the nation’s 44th president. During his campaign Obama banked on support from regular citizens and promised to reform the federal bureaucracy to make it more responsive to citizens and less beholden to special interests. That will be hard to deliver, though, if voters assume their job is done and become apathetic.
With so much bailout money being offered, and so much new legislation in the pipeline, there is no doubt that special interests will be clamoring for the new president’s attention.
In order to provide some balance locally and nationally, citizens will need to stay active and informed.