Our view: Serving your community at the grassroots level
If you find yourself exasperated by what’s happening in national politics, we have a remedy for you — run for local office where you can have an immediate and lasting impact on your community.
In November, Steamboat Springs City Council and the Steamboat Springs School Board will each have four seats up for election, and in our opinion, there’s no better way to make a grassroots difference than serving on either of these important decision-making bodies.
The first step in running for office is to pick up a nominating petition. Petitions to run for City Council became available Tuesday, Aug. 6, and individuals have until Monday, Aug. 26, to return the petitions to the city clerk. School board petitions are available beginning Wednesday, Aug. 7, and must be returned to the district office by Friday, Aug. 30.
Our City Council and school board members are tasked with making many decisions that affect the future of Steamboat Springs. These front-line leaders will set policy in a number of important areas, including where our community will grow, how it will grow and how this growth will be funded. Other important issues that they’ll have an opportunity to impact include housing, school overcrowding, tourism, tax structure and much more.
In 2015, Steamboat Pilot & Today hosted two “Step Up and Serve” forums aimed at providing city residents with an opportunity to learn more about what it is like to serve Steamboat Springs as a City Council member. The sessions were prompted at the time by the fact that City Council races were going uncontested, and there seemed to be very little interest in running for local office.
Former council members Paula Cooper Black, Jon Quinn, Cari Hermacinski and Loui Antonucci participated in the forums and offered an insider’s look on what it’s like to serve on City Council, and four years later, as we approach the start of another election cycle, we think the wisdom they shared is worth repeating and should guide individuals as they consider running for city council or the local school board.
• Serving on council or the school board isn’t about one person’s agenda; it’s about the community’s agenda. Residents should not run for local office if they have an ax to grind or are single-minded in wanting to accomplish one project or right one wrong.
• Effective council and school board members need to have the ability to look far beyond their lifetime and initiate projects and policies that will have a long-term, lasting and positive impact on the future of Steamboat Springs.
At issue: The application process for local City Council and school board seats opened this week.
Our View: We hope qualified candidates will step up and consider running for these offices, and ideally, every race would be contested.
- Logan Molen, publisher
- Lisa Schlichtman, editor
- Michael Marchand, community representative
- Jim Beers, community representative
• Good elected officials do their homework. They research topics, gather facts and reach out to constituents to gather input, so they can make educated and timely decisions under pressure.
• In small towns, there are only a few degrees of separation, so it’s vitally important that City Council and school board members exhibit a high level of integrity by acknowledging potential conflicts of interest and stepping down from decision-making when necessary.
• To serve in public office, an individual must also have thick skin. City Council members are often the subject of discussion within the community and targets for criticism. They must resist the urge to get defensive and instead remain open to hear what various factions are saying. Important decisions must be made and those decisions are rarely going to please everyone.
• Good council and school board members ask questions and conduct business openly and transparently.
We believe our list above provides a good template for grassroots leadership, and we hope it will inspire people to step up and serve this election season.
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The Longevity Project: Part three of a four-part series