Give citizen leaders the training and support they deserve
December 8, 2015
The backbone of a healthy community is a well informed and active electorate. From congressional hearings to small-town roundtables, the democratic process relies on vigorous public input and the willingness of regular citizens to step into leadership roles.
Locally, Summit County and its six towns are constantly in need of citizens to serve on various boards and commissions. Right now, Park City is in the hunt for a new planning commissioner and the county recently found itself looking for a volunteer to fill an empty seat on the council.
Unfortunately as people’s lives become busier and politics becomes more polarized the pipeline of candidates for both elected and appointed positions is dwindling. For example, in November one town on the East Side of Summit County cancelled its election for lack of interest and a few others had trouble filling their ballots.
To counter that worrisome trend we would urge the county to launch a citizen training initiative. And since the county is working on its budget for next year, now is the time to make that commitment.
Park City’s highly successful leadership program could serve as a template or the county might consider offering a variety seminars and workshops. Some resources may already be available through the League of Cities and Towns and nearby universities.
Citizen leaders deserve all the support we can offer. Many, who have no prior experience become frustrated and when controversial issues erupt, they don’t always have the tools or counseling to move toward consensus. The county’s East Side Planning Commissioners, for example, were recently treated to a drubbing from friends and neighbors that must have made them wonder why they had ever offered to serve.
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It is our job to ensure those who are already participating have the support they need to convert their dedication into sound public policy. And, as our diverse communities face issues related to accelerating growth and development we must devise a way to cultivate a new generation of smart and confident leaders.
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