Where have all the candidates gone? | In Our Opinion

Two Poulsbo City Council members are running unopposed for re-election.

A lone candidate for a third City Council position is on the ballot but withdrew his candidacy, meaning that if a write-in candidate doesn’t get enough votes on Nov. 7, the council will have to appoint someone to the office.

Asked about the dearth of candidates, City Council member Jeff McGinty said one reason could be “we’re doing a good job.”

We’re worried it may be something more. We’re worried there may be a growing lack of interest in local government.

Every single resident of a city should be interested in, and aware of, what’s going on in city hall. Mayors and city councils make decisions that are more immediately felt than decisions made in Olympia or Washington, D.C. Mayors and city councils make decisions regarding how your tax dollars are spent. Their budgetary decisions are evident in the condition of our roads, how well our city is policed, how our neighborhoods are developed, how well departments respond to community needs, and how well we care for our environment, our parks and our open space. Mayors and city councils make decisions that influence whether businesses and new residents find opportunity here. Are fees, taxes and regulations fair or onerous?

Many mandates and policies established by the Legislature, Congress and White House ultimately end up at the front door to city hall, and mayors and city councils must deal with those as well.

In short, serving as a mayor or council member is a big deal. It used to be that a reporter could tell who a future council candidate might be, likely someone who had served on a city commission or two and immersed themselves in how government works. That person, like the retiring Jim Henry — who served for 10 years on the planning commission before running for council — proved to be effective in working with others in order to accomplish positive things. We hope to see those days return.

All that contention and gridlock and hyperbole in Washington, D.C.? That seldom applies on the local level; residents have easy access to their elected and appointed city officials, and those officials are more easily held accountable. So don’t let what is happening on the state or national level influence your interest in what’s going on at city hall.

Run for office. Attend City Council meetings. Call or write the mayor or council members. Shed light on issues, propose some solutions.

It’s your city. Get involved.

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