As candidate filings for city and school district posts continue to trickle in, we are left wondering if the time will come when no one wants to seek elected positions at the local level.
What will happen then? How will our cities and school districts operate effectively? If no one is interested in seeking council and trustee positions, who will make the decisions necessary to keep local government entities up and running?
Granted, these jobs require a huge commitment on the part of those who run — the investment in time alone is great and the few hours spent at regular meetings is only the beginning. Successful candidates will find themselves spending a lot of time doing “homework” to prepare for meetings and stay current on issues, and the jobs typically require public appearances and other commitments.
An effective council person or school board member may find that the position approaches the level of a full-time job in terms of time required — without the financial compensation.
We can understand how tough it is to decide to run for office, knowing full well that if you’re successful the job will take huge chunks of time away from your family and career.
There is also a significant financial investment required. Getting elected can be expensive in terms of campaign costs alone, and there are plenty of other expenses that must be considered.
Luckily, there are still individuals who are willing to seek office, and we appreciate their commitment. But the supply of candidates seems to be dwindling, and we believe that cities and school districts must do something to counteract the apathy.
We need to encourage as many people as we can to file for open positions on city councils and school boards. When you get right down to it, few jobs are more important.
Elected officials in even the smallest cities and school districts make decisions regarding expenditures of millions of dollars, and they decide issues that can affect not only the immediate quality of life but also the futures of our children and grandchildren.
Some cities, school districts and chambers of commerce have programs in place to encourage citizen participation and provide training in various aspects of local government, and those are a great start, but we believe that more must be done.
If we don’t act now to encourage people to get involved in their communities and offer additional avenues to experience that can help prepare candidates to run for office, then we may eventually see elections where no one files.
We’ve heard people say that serving on council or school board is a thankless job, but we don’t believe they’re right.
In our view, community service is always a worthwhile investment — the benefits far outweigh the costs.
Why not give it a try? You’ve still got plenty of time to file for city and school posts — the deadline is Feb. 28.