By Martha Yoder
I am so proud of my little town. Those of you who know I was elected trustee in the recent election might assume that I am proud because of that. While I am grateful that I was elected, my pride has another source.
Seven people ran for two trustee positions in my town. The fact that so many people were willing to take the time to get more involved in their community is certainly something to be lauded.
For the first time in anyone’s memory, we had a candidate forum. Those who organized the event were told not to expect too many people. Some people even said that no one would come. On the night of the forum, it was standing room only at the VFW. Later, there were more than three hundred views of the forum on YouTube. On Election Day, there was a more than 40 percent turnout when the rest of the county was at mere 25 percent.
I am proud of my community, but I hope that the people in Farmington and West Farmington, as well as the people in this county, understand that citizenship doesn’t begin or end at the ballot box. It is a continuous process of informing and involving yourself in your community.
My goal when I started writing my column in The Tribune Chronicle was to wake people up – to get them more informed and involved in local government. I’ve had some of my more cynical and jaded friends tell me that people just don’t care about such things. I think they’re wrong. I saw that in the response to my columns – people are passionate about issues that may seem mundane, but really affect us all in our daily lives. As part of my campaign, I began knocking on doors in May. I had very few people who didn’t want to talk to me. They care. The folks that came to the forum – they care. The people who voted on Election Day – they care.
I think sometimes (and for some reason especially here in our county), public officials forget that they are elected to serve. They forget that the business of governing isn’t their own private business – it is the peoples’ business. They don’t want people to get involved. They see that as meddling. They don’t encourage it.
I’m not so sure that some of what passes for apathy is really a feeling of being intimidated by those in office who think that what they do is none of your business. Those public officials are wrong. It most certainly is your business.
One of my favorite quotes is from Thomas Jefferson. He said, “If once (the people) become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, Judges and Governors, shall all become wolves.”
Not only is it our business to be informed, it is our responsibility. Our founders knew that and intended for us to be active participants in our government. Our responsibility is to keep public officials from becoming wolves.
I know, probably as well as anyone, that doing this takes time. We make time for what is important. Who is elected locally and the decisions they make affect our daily lives as much as what happens in Washington. Keeping up with these issues is far more important than Keeping up with the Kardashians.
Make time for it.
We need to really understand how important our local issues are, and that we have the power to change and improve things if only we stay involved and informed.
Go to meetings.
Force change when you need to.
Don’t let busyness stop you.
Don’t let ingrained and entrenched politicians stop you.
I used the quote above in a column I wrote last year after the election. I noted that it seemed wolves were just so Trumbull County. They still are, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.
Don’t let it stay that way.
- Look what happened in famous eminent-domain case (wnd.com)
- Ann McFeatters: Resolve to be better citizens in 2014 (lacrossetribune.com)
- Local Citizen Involvement Wanted? Whatever! (personalliberty.com)
- Unjust Public Service, inadaquate Public policy or Official misconduct? (zalainacarp.wordpress.com)
- The Best of 2013: The Great Awakening about the Status Quo (dianeravitch.net)