Like clockwork, we’re asked to advise readers of vacancies on town boards and commissions. And like clockwork, we remind readers to consider those openings, as well as to take a crack at signing up to serve on town councils and boards of selectmen.
So there’s no time like the present to send out the message once again. Wanted: Town residents eager to serve their community. Qualifications: Opinions about what your community needs. A sense of ownership and caring about your hometown. The ability to tell the difference between what would benefit you and your family and/or business, and what is best for the town.
A willingness to prioritize your time to attend meetings. The strength of character to take a public stand when it counts, not just hear yourself talk. And not least, tough skin. Would you answer that advertisement? If so, your community awaits you.
It’s easy to preach to the choir, send emails to like-minded folk or comment anonymously about town operations, especially after the fact. It’s a lot harder to be involved in the decision making. And even harder to have to look at both sides when making those decisions.
No doubt you care. So how about getting involved in that decision making? Most of us have an interest in some aspect of town government. Build on that interest. But we don’t mean self-interest, although something that affects us personally is usually the impetus to get involved.
For example, the Woodmont nay-sayers could serve the town more effectively on planning or zoning boards or the town council. Your perspective counts. Especially when you’re willing to volunteer to sit on a board or commission, be identified in front of everyone else in town, and explain your position in regard to statute and ordinance.
Such work should be rewarding. But it won’t be easy. It’s one thing to complain in the privacy of your home. It’s another to debate on the record. Volunteers aren’t always treated with respect. That’s where the tough skin comes in. Other members of town government – or people who won’t get involved officially – are quick to criticize. Some work in cliques, and leave fellow board members out in the cold. Some seem to thrive on divisiveness.
And those who make the appointments should be willing to choose people who aren’t part of their circle of friends. When residents are willing to spend countless hours at meetings and make decisions based on facts, they can go home satisfied that they have contributed to their hometown. And those not willing to do the same ought to be saying thanks.