Committed citizens, your service is needed

Wanted: Community-oriented individuals for public-service openings. Must be able to deal constructively with frustrating situations, including angry citizens. Should have strong analytical and problem-solving skills, and bring an open-minded approach to issues. Hours can be long; pay is usually low. Rewards include the gratification that comes from making a positive difference. Apply June 4-8 at the county Auditor’s Office.

If you’re drawn to that kind of job description, it doesn’t mean you’re crazy. You may, however, have what it takes to run for local office.

This fall, voters throughout Snohomish County will elect hundreds of their fellow citizens to sit on city councils, school boards, fire commissions, and water and sewer district boards. If you’ve ever considered serving, now is the time to think seriously about jumping in.

Your community needs you.

Two years ago, the last time such local elections took place, a distressing number of races had just one candidate. Some city councils and several school boards had no contested races at all. In some cases, that may have reflected general satisfaction with incumbents, but in others, it likely stemmed more from a lack of willing candidates.

That’s a problem, because contested campaigns help clarify important local issues and offer a forum for their discussion. Without that, lots of good ideas might never get to the table.

Recent signs aren’t encouraging. Snohomish School Board member Tom Pendergast says a current board vacancy has drawn just one candidate, even though the application deadline was extended.

Pendergast, who is in the middle of his second four-year term, thinks some people are particularly well-suited to serve on an elected board – and they might not be those who would volunteer to coach youth sports or help out in a classroom. They are, however, community-minded folks who are good at considering the root causes of problems and addressing them in a systematic way.

“If someone is interested in engaging in that type of thing, they’ll find it very stimulating,” he said. “It’s a challenge, but a good one.”

One that could use a lot more applicants.

Candidate filing in Snohomish County opens at 9 a.m. Monday and ends at 5 p.m. Friday at the Auditor’s Office, 3000 Rockefeller Ave., Everett. For information, call 425-388-3444.

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