Disinterested electorate a danger to democracy

Disinterested electorate a danger to democracy

The need to increase citizen involvement in local government and increase the number of registered voters

Poulsbo in Focus

By Bill Effinger

An issue of concern for this writer is the apparent decline of American reading habits, according to the latest data of a Pew Research Center’s release.

The results show some interesting and somewhat surprising trends: Only 72 percent of American adults read a book in 2015, continuing a gradual decline over the last 5 years (from 79 percent in 2011).

Assuming the trend continues, not only is it indicative of the “dumbing down of America” it is an appalling indictment of our education system.

My column of a few weeks ago carried the headline: “Civic engagement starts with a well-informed public” which is absolutely true. Without citizens’ informed involvement, our democratic ideals are at risk. Plainly stated, our “government of the people and by the people” is in jeopardy. An ill-informed citizenry is self- destructive.

The election of 2017 is indicative of civic complacency in Poulsbo when one considers that just over 50 percent of eligible Poulsbo voters (3,043) determined the future of our city and county for the next four years — not a comfortable outcome when one considers the dynamic growth projections for Poulsbo and the county.

Over the coming weeks, I intend to continue keeping issues of Poulsbo and Kitsap County government in front of my readers. Hopefully they will encourage their friends and neighbors to follow my column.

My ultimate goal is to increase citizen involvement in local government, increase the number of registered voters and to increase the number of registered voters who go to the polls to cast their vote.

While I do have opinions on our state and national government issues and their politics, I am leaving those to others as I stay within the bounderies of non-partisan issues of our local government, where leadership posts are filled without partisan affiliations as determined by state law.

Getting better acquainted with our leaders is one way for us to better understand their positions on issues we care about; to that end, over the coming weeks and months I will share as many interviews with you as I can obtain from those who agree.

Part one of Councilman Ed Stern interview:

Bill Effinger (B.E.) How long have you lived in Poulsbo?

Ed Stern (E.S.) We moved here from Livingston, Montana, in 1986 where I had been community development director for the city.

B.E. When were you first elected to the council?

E.S. I was first elected in 1997 and have served six consecutive terms.

B.E. Had you held any elected office before the Poulsbo Council?

E.S. No, I did not, but I had been a municipal department head for Livingston for nearly ten Years, working with electeds.

B.E. What committees do you serve on?

ES. Too many to list, but the main one is the Finance and Administration Committee of which I have been chairman of for 20 years.

B.E. Are you actively employed or retired?

E.S. I own my own business after working for three large Wall Street brokerage houses.

B.E. What do you enjoy the most about being a councilman?

E.S. Being able to advocate and affect change.

B.E. What do you enjoy the least about being a councilman?

E.S. Many long hours, but then again, that’s how I give back to the community.

B.E. What do you enjoy the most about being a councilman?

E.S. Being able to advocate and affect change.

Part two of Councilman Stern’s interview will appear next Friday, May 25.

—Bill Effinger can be reached at bill@billeffinger.net and on Twitter @WREPro

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