When it comes to taking an interest in local politics, a lot of us are throwing in the towel.
Three cities in Weber County have canceled municipal elections this month. In Marriott-Slaterville, Uintah and Washington Terrace, no one wants to run against the candidates for city council. However, we urge their residents to vote; the countywide transportation tax proposal is on the ballot.
As we reported, Darinda Wardell, recorder for Uintah, said this is the first time she can remember the city canceling municipal elections.
But it’s not just a Top of Utah problem. Around 75 municipalities in Utah are calling off local elections due to candidates winning by default.
And get this: At Weber State University, the Olene S. Walker Institute of Politics & Public Service has cancelled its Citizens Academy. It was created to get adults involved in local government. The reason it’s canceled — lack of participation; or in other words, not enough cared to spend time getting involved.
That’s a real shame. City politics is the level of government that impacts us the most. We can yell about so-called “sexier” politics on talk radio, or C-Span, or at a town hall for our senator or congressman, but it’s at the lowly attended, three hour-plus city council meetings where we have the biggest say, and pols most deferential to our opinion. To not have robust election-day contests at the most familiar, personal level of politics and government is apathy.
Some disagree, claiming this demonstrates satisfaction, but no. If that were true, people would easily answer questions, such as “name your city council members,” and “what are the most recent legislation passed?” Carol McNamara, director of the Walker Institute, sees a more downbeat reason. “It indicates a kind of withdrawal by the voters from the political process at the local level,” explains McNamara, who added that the Walker Institute will try again to have a Citizens Academy.
People are turning away from politics; they see it as a negative, something that breeds corruption at worst, boredom at best.
That needs to change. Make sure you vote this year. And in 2016, know who your local officials are, and keep up on what they do in office. If most of us did that, we’d never see canceled elections.