The outcome of this year’s election could have a significant impact on local government on Whidbey Island for many years to come.
A total of nine council positions in three municipalities, eight seats on school boards, a county assessor, a seat on the hospital district and many other elected positions will be on Whidbey ballots in November.
That’s why it’s pertinent for a range of engaged people who care about the future of their communities to stand up and throw their hats in the political arena.
Next week is candidate filing week, the time for armchair politicians and online critics to put up or quiet down a bit.
While there have been some lively political races on the island in recent years, too often candidates are unopposed. That’s simply un-American and undemocratic, especially when those who are running unopposed are new to politics and untested. It smacks of backroom deals.
We need candidates who are willing to dig into issues and disagree with staff members and other leaders. We need candidates who aren’t unduly influenced by people with power or motivated by dogma and self aggrandizement.
We need candidates who are dedicated to transparency and will follow open government laws.
But most of all, we just need candidates.
A lot of people are reluctant to run for public office because of the ugly side of politics. Besides the assessor, the other positions on the ballot are essentially volunteer positions with only minimal “per diem” pay — although Oak Harbor Council members can sign up for city health insurance.
But serving your community isn’t about taking the easy road and shouldn’t be about personal gain.
There are plenty of issues in local government that people feel strongly about, whether it’s utility rates in Oak Harbor, anti-racism training for public employees, the way schools handled the pandemic or staffing controversies.
These kinds of important issues are bound to come up in the future.
As the saying goes, the world is run by those who show up.