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Monday, May 11, 2015

Local Democracy.

(2nd update, see below).There are several government Districts here in Point Roberts, run by Commissioners who are elected.  To get elected, you have to file for the office in question (e.g., Point Roberts Park and Recreation District, Position 1), and then enough people have to vote for you to get elected.

The current Commissioners may or may not be running for re-election.  At the time of filing for a position, it is hard to know whether they are: are you thinking of running for a position that has a sure-fire winner already?  Or what?

Running doesn't seem to require much other than filing for the office: not even any charge for it. [Update: you have to be a resident and a registered voter.]  The Voters Association might sponsor a meeting in which you would get to stand up and talk about why you want to be elected.  And there are only some 600+ voters that are your target.  It ought to be organized more effectively, but of course that's the problem with government in Point Roberts: there is no overall organizer for effectiveness.  I suppose the County doesn't care much about how these positions get filled.  If we had stronger local associations, that might be the route.  But we don't.  There are a few people interested in this stuff, but not very many.

BUT IF YOU ARE SUCH A PERSON, consider filing for a position.  The Park and Rec District has at least one clear opening as Mark Robbins (after 8 years) is not running for reelection.  The Water District has one clear opening (presumably resulting from Bill Meursing's resignation).  On the other side of people who are running for reelection, we have Kandace Harper, who was just appointed to a vacant seat, at the Hospital District, and Stephen Falk who is running for reelection at Park and Rec.

Beyond that, I don't know.  Is Linda Hughes running for re-election at Park and Rec?  Is Stan Riffle running for re-election at the Fire District?  Is Madeleine Anderson running for reelection at the Water District?  Ernie Loreen at the Cemetery District?  Don't know.  Ask them.  Because they're incumbents, they generally have the edge in an election such as this.

Consider whether you care enough about the community to commit some time to it; consider whether you're actually available to commit some time to what needs to be attended to; consider whether you have some actual skills or expertise that might be helpful.  E.g., Park and Rec is engaged in considerable maintenance of the Community Center and we expect them to be moving on to the new library soon.  Those projects don't just get managed from the sky.  The Commissioners have to have an overall view of how they are to proceed once funded, how to keep the projects on track, etc.  It's real work with real importance.  You up for it?

If you are, here's the link to the Whatcom County Auditor's office which has a further link to a candidate's guide.  It looks more overwhelming than it is because it's intended to describe the process for big positions as well as small ones, such as local special districts, which is all we have here.  People are always flapping about freedom and democracy and the splendid government of the U.S.  But, all those things work for us only if good people are willing to step up to the task of making those governmental institutions work.  And the first job is to file for office.  The filing deadline is May 11-15.  And if you change your mind, you can withdraw your name over the week following.

This is a discouraging post to write.  I don't think there are many people in point roberts up for this kind of challenge, and that in itself is discouraging.  Obviously, there are people who are not able to do this for legitimate reasons: illness, family obligations, away-ness much of the time.  But there are so many others....We need people thinking about the water situation in Point Roberts, about how to apportion the resources of the Fire District between medical and fire, about how to provide medical services at a time when cost issues are so difficult for healthcare.  The cemetery, on the other hand, seems to be well in hand.

Update: Bennett Blaustein finds, where I failed, the Auditor's site where it tells who has actually filed for the offices:  HERE.  So far, I see, Arthur Reber has filed for the Water District, Kandace Harper for the Hospital District, and Stephen Falk for the Park and Recreation District.  Bennett tells me that he has filed for the Park and Rec seat being vacated by Mark Robbins, and that it should show up on the list tomorrow.  This is all good news and we need more of it.

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