Civic engagement starts with a well-informed public

A recent visit to the Poulsbo office of the North Kitsap Herald by Congressman Derek Kilmer produced the following comment during an interview with reporter Nick Twietmeyer. Speaking to anyone dealing with issues associated with any federal agency to reach out to his office for help: “If they have a family, friend, neighbor, coworker, whatever, I encourage them to reach out to our office because we can’t solve problems we don’t know about. It’s just one of the most important resources our office provides.”

The congressman’s comment points out the importance of citizens making their voices heard by their local, state and federal representatives. Our legislators work for us citizens; the responsibility of good government lies in the power of the ballot box and our active participation. Being informed is where to start.

The city of Poulsbo publishes a newsletter in which openings on commissions are published as well as updates on active citywide projects and news. I signed up for and have been receiving the informative newsletter since a year before moving to this city.

To receive the newsletter, go to, click on “Government,” then “Mayor’s Office,” then “E-Newsletter” and sign up with your email.

A quote from Martin Luther King Jr. fits well here: “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” I am not suggesting any of my readers are stupid, only that being well informed is essential for good citizenship and government.

The most recent city newsletter announced an opening on the Parks and Recreation Commission urging anyone interested to apply, explaining commissioner duties:

“The Parks & Recreation Commission is responsible for giving advisory recommendations to the City Council on all regulations, resolutions, plans, policies, projects, and proposals relating to the city parks system, recreational facilities, or open space to promote public use and awareness of the city’s park facilities and services, to hold public meetings to solicit public input for the parks and open spaces planning process, and to apprise the City Council, Public Works Department, and Parks & Recreation Department of the community’s park and recreational needs.”

Also, my column on April 6 pointed out five council positions will be opening up in November 2019. That being the case, it’s not too soon to be making plans for a run at becoming a council member.

Lining up supporters, creating a budget for signs and some local advertising is part of the early planning required to run a winning campaign. Seeking endorsements from notable Poulsbo residents and business people is also important and never too early to begin lining them up.

I challenge my readers to get involved in local leadership by volunteering to serve on a commission or running for a council position.

Readers are urged to participate in this column by sharing their thoughts, volunteering to be interviewed, suggesting new and different topics and people who might feel they would like to share their experiences to be interviewed in the coming weeks and months.

Next week: the first of a two-part interview with Poulsbo’s newest city council member, Mrs. Abby Garland.

Bill Effinger can be reached at and @WREPro on Twitter