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In this together: Drama of local government worth following
Jun 19, 2013 | 2636 views | 0 0 comments | 86 86 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Louise R. Shaw
Louise R. Shaw

Clipper Staff Writer

BOUNTIFUL — If you’re looking for drama, the local theater isn’t the only place to spend an evening.

If you’re looking for high-stakes games, the local sports teams aren’t the only competitions to support.

There is drama and there are games no farther away than your local city council and community board meetings. And they’re free. And they have more of an impact on your life than you’d guess.

I sat recently, watching the faces of six members of a Davis County council as the citizens they are working really quite hard to represent took them to task for a decision they had made with what appeared to be the best of intentions.

The masks were more transparent on some council members than on others. Some appeared concerned, some disturbed, some angry, some tired of it all.

From what I’ve seen, it’s no easy thing to serve on a council or a commission or a board.

When taking a leading role in a democracy, you’re all too often faced with lose-lose situations. Making one decision will anger one group of people, making another will infuriate their neighbors.

This past week was the time when people threw their hats in the ring to run for civic position or re-entered those races despite knowing what stresses and strains the positions might hold and what costs may result from the effort to win them.

We need those people to make decisions for us about the best use of funds we contribute to local jurisdictions and the best way to prepare our communities for the future. We need them to help ensure there are stop signs where we need them and police officers when we need them, schools for our children, water for our lawns, parks and libraries and courts ensuring justice for us all.

But as if running an election and winning it isn’t hard enough, try spending a good chunk of your time researching issues, studying contrasting opinions, making decisions and then dealing with the backlash.

Ask the President of the United States how hard it is to share your vision, work toward a promise, take a stand on an issue or go on a vacation without being roundly and soundly criticized.

In smaller jurisdictions, there might be fewer people supporting or opposing every decision, but that opposition can still be personal and can still be draining.

Time after time, council meeting after council meeting, one particular resident in a city I cover aired his grievances to the local council. They were conspiring this, they were illegally doing that, they were unfairly doing something else.

Finally, the masks came down: We’re trying our hardest, we’re doing our best, we’re not hiding anything, they said. Let us sit down and talk to you, so you’ll understand why we’ve made the decisions we’ve made, said one.

But the next month the resident was back. Still angry, still resolved, still opposed.

Not every meeting has drama or games. Not every issue has controversy.

As the local election cycle begins, just before the celebration of American freedoms gets underway, there is one other thing that bears celebrating:   

Government just down the street and around the corner by the people for the people. Even when it’s not easy.
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