There is no more important time than now to be involved in local politics as a voter.
During the past few weeks, we’ve seen voters, ordinary residents, rally to express their displeasure with COVID-19 mandates before school boards or in public, and while we can agree or disagree with their motivations, the fact is they are exercising a fundamental right to have their voices heard.
On the horizon, Oregon lawmakers are preparing to frame new legislative districts for the state, an important — perhaps even crucial — decision that will impact every voter.
Voters need to get involved not only on issues such as the redistricting plan but in government. We understand that can be a tough assignment. We all are busy. But by attending a city council or county commission meeting, we acquire a stake in our government.
The founders designed the American way of government as a two-way street between those who are governed and those who govern. Input from the body politic is the essential ingredient to successful government.
Voters who participate in government — either through attending meetings or by keeping tabs on meeting minutes and agendas — also act as a very important check to those who govern.
Especially in secluded places such as Eastern Oregon, public oversight of government officials — elected or appointed — is critical. That’s not because our appointed and elected leaders are inherently dishonest. Most elected and appointed leaders are honest and want to do the best they can in what is, arguably, a tough job.
Yet, often decisions made inside the bubble of a county commission or a city council may seem to be right and proper — even brilliant — but once reviewed by the voters those same ideas prove to be less than thoughtful.
The danger of unintended consequences to decisions made by elected leaders is always real, and that is why voters must stay alert to what is going on with elected boards and commissions. It isn’t an easy task, but a crucial one for a Democracy to function.
Proper oversight by voters of their elected leaders is essential, even in small-town America.