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Front Page » February 22, 2005 » Opinion » Ask not what your county can do for you, but what you can...
Published 3,509 days ago

Ask not what your county can do for you, but what you can do


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate community editor

American's today undoubtedly live in tile greatest democracy that has ever existed on earth. We are so lucky.

Yet most citizens have little to do with their government except to pay their taxes. Even the great gift to us of being able to vote for those that run our government is observed by less than 50 percent of those eligible to do so, and that percentage only shows up when a hotly contested presidential or congressional race is on the docket.

So I don't know why I am surprised when something comes up where citizens can have a good part in government and yet they fail to respond to that opportunity.

A good example of that was the low number of people who applied for vacant positions on some of the various committees and boards the county has in place to operate everything from the fairgrounds to the special service districts when they had the chance to do so in the last few weeks.

I often hear comments from citizens about their concern with the county's spending, operations or decisions about both of those things. Some complain a lot, others just have small gripes. The chance to be part of the solution, rather than to just complain about the problems was there. But few took advantage of it.

Last year the Carbon County Commission voted to advertise each and every opening on the county boards and commissions. What they were looking for was more citizen input and a wider choice of candidates for openings when they occurred. In the past, positions were often filled by word of mouth, or when one of the boards lost a member that board would find a replacement and recommend that the commission approve the selected individual. That process led to some good candidates, but it didn't allow for John Q. public to be involved the way they should.

At the end of last year a number of board positions came open because of expired terms as well as a few resignations and one death. The commission expected by opening up this process to all comers that they would have a hard time sorting down the dozens of'applications that would come pouring into the county courthouse for the vacancies.

Sadly instead, there were few citizens to pick from for all the positions that were open. In a couple of cases just enough people applied to fill the positions. In two others there was one more application than the county needed to fill the jobs. And for another, the Sheriffs Merit Commission, only one person applied to fill three positions, so there isn't even a commission at this point.

Citizens so often complain about not having input to what happens in government, yet when they have the chance to serve, or at least apply to serve, few take advantage of it.

So the next time you think about complaining when it comes to county services and how they are run, ask yourself what you have done to contribute to the process and then think again.


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February 22, 2005
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