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Serving on the city council may be a thankless job sometimes, but everyone should take a hand at it

By Lloyd Call

Associate Publisher

6-13-2019

 

Most people who run for office just want to make a positive difference in their communities; and now that the filing deadline is past, Sanpete’s municipalities have posted the list of candidates seeking local office, and for the most part, Sanpeters will have a good selection for voters to choose from.

The two communities this year with the most candidates are Mt. Pleasant, where there are two candidates for mayor, and seven candidates for three open council seats; and Gunnison, where there are 11 candidates for three open council seats. Both those communities will have primary elections to narrow down the field.

Other cities will also have contested positions: Manti has five people seeking four council seats, of which three are incumbents; Fairview, with four running for three 4-year seats, and one running for the single twoyear seat; Ephraim has four people vying for three seats, including two incumbents.

Fountain Green has seven candidates running for four seats, including two incumbents; Spring City has three people running unopposed for three seats, but there are two candidates for mayor; in Centerfield, seven people are running for three, 4-year council seats; and in Fayette, the mayor is running unopposed for re-election, but there are three candidates for two open seats.

Other municipalities have uncontested races, including Moroni, where four people are running for four 4-year positions, and one candidate is running for a 2-year term; Sterling, with three people running, two for 4-year posts, and one for a 2-year post, and Mayfield, with two candidates running for the two seats. In Wales, one candidate has announced for an open seat, but unfortunately, one seat will remain vacant.

If there are no write-in candidates, some of those cities with uncontested races may not even have to hold an election, but that doesn’t change the fact that those ordinary people are willing to tackle a hard job, most just for the satisfaction of stepping up to do their civic duty.

Serving in a small city is for the most part, an unappreciated effort. We congratulate all candidates for their willingness to seek improvements in their cities, and be willing to step into service for their communities.

My father, Max Call served on the Manti City Council, and told me, “Everyone should do their civic duty and serve in public office at least once.” When he served, he was surprised that some formerly friendly neighbors came to council meetings incensed with something the council had done or was going to do. “Whether it was dog enforcement, zoning regulations, water rates, or slow police response time, it amazed me that so many people found lots of things to criticize with people who are just trying to juggle the demands of a small city on a small budget,” he said.

“If the people who do the complaining sat on this side of the table, they would see it’s not as easy as they think it is to make these kinds of decisions,” he concluded.

While living in Ephraim, I grabbed my courage and took his advice and decided to volunteer at a caucus, but, well let’s just say there were more interesting people from which to choose, and I didn’t make the cut, so I consoled myself that I had at least been willing to serve.

I have also attended many municipal council meetings in Sanpete County.

With just a few exceptions, these were informative, occasionally entertaining or even humorous, but always afterwards I was grateful for people’s willingness to make hard decisions. I chuckle when I remember covering one small town meeting, where I listened to the councilmen discuss, for over an hour, the best model of lawn mower to buy for the community, which was the only item on the agenda.

Other council meetings have been far more volatile, as issues discussed brought out strong emotional responses from citizens and councils. When controversial topics merge with mercurial personalities, sparks can certainly fly, and it takes courage to go through that on a regular basis for the years of your term.

Even trivial decisions have to be made, and frankly, where public money is involved, there really aren’t trivial decisions. Council decisions always affect people; how they live and the services they receive, and that makes all decisions important.

The remuneration for public office in most Sanpete cities is nominal, so you can’t accuse people of wanting to get rich at the taxpayer’s expense. Some councilmen or mayors don’t even take the money.

I believe all candidates are motivated by good motives, and now we should encourage them and the rest of us, the voters, to show our appreciation by actively involving ourselves in campaigns, and when the time comes, voting our preferences.

Both those who are elected and those who are not should be celebrated for standing up and meeting our obligation of government by the people, for the people.