Running for local office one way for residents to change community

Posted: Friday, August 15, 2003

Wanted: Caring, concerned, knowledgeable individuals desiring to make the community where they live a better place. On call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Good listening skills required. Big dose of patience helpful. Ability to read volumes of boring reports without falling asleep a big plus. Attendance at several night meetings necessary. Broad shoulders and thick skin a must. Pay virtually nil. Major benefit is knowing that you're doing something good for your community. Deadline for applications: today.

If you've always wanted to make a difference in the place you call home, then here's an opportunity for you. The filing period for local elected office ends today. Have you considered running?

Being an elected official isn't easy, and it's far from glamorous. In fact, every year at this time we wonder why people do it. It's certainly not for the fame or fortune. Those who serve definitely are unsung community heroes.

There are a number of elected bodies that could use your particular talents this year: three three-year seats are open on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly (District 1 Kalifornsky, District 6 East Peninsula, and District 9 South Peninsula); all nine school board seats are up for grabs; two three-year seats are open on the Soldotna City Council; and one two-year seat and two three-year seats are open on the Kenai City Council. A number of service area boards also are seeking candidates, including the Central Peninsula Hospital Service Area, the South Peninsula Hospital Service Area, the North Peninsula Recreation Service Area, the Nikiski Fire Service Area, the Anchor Point Fire Service area, the Bear Creek Fire Service Area, the Central Peninsula Medical Service Area-Central Emergency Service Area, the Nikiski Senior Service Area and the Kachemak Emergency Service Area.

While it may not come with the prestige of state or federal elected office, serving on a city council, the assembly, school board or borough service area board has the potential to change the community for the better and touch people's lives in ways no congressional or legislative decision ever can.

If you've been an armchair critic of politics, here's a chance to move from the sidelines to a seat where you can help call the shots and run the plays. If you've ever wanted to be a voice for "the people," now's the time to sign up and speak out. If you've got a vision to make the Kenai Peninsula a better place to live, election season offers a forum to share it.

If you've ever considered the following questions, then you might be the perfect person for one of the many elected positions that will be decided come Oct. 7: Is the status quo good enough? What can I do to make it better? What direction do I want my community to take? Do my priorities match those of my elected leaders? Do I know the priorities of my elected leaders? Is there something I want accomplished; if so, who is the best person to make that project happen?

We often ask why more people don't run for office and why they don't vote. Is it apathy or an endorsement of how things are going? Are they just too busy? Would they rather criticize than get involved?

We don't have the answer to those questions, but we do know the importance of local elected office. It's a chance to make a world of difference in your community.

Remember, the deadline for filing is today.

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