We offer a tip of the cap to local governments

April 30, 2011

You could say it is a commemoration that only a bureaucrat could love, but we argue that you would be off-base with that contention.

Today marks the start of Local Government Week in Missouri, and we would wager that you didn’t have that one marked on your calendar. Still, it is a good idea to pause and reflect on the role and positive impact that municipal officials and workers have in our communities.

Residents are quick to judge local governmental employees and representatives — those whose daily work and decisions affect us much more than moves by power brokers in Jefferson City or in Washington, D.C. But while we frequently bemoan the expansion of governmental influence on residents’ day-to-day lives, we must take time today to praise the individuals who invest their effort into serving our community as elected council members and board representatives.

Those most critical of these individuals’ decisions and performance tend to be those least willing to make the same sacrifice to do the job. It is easy to sit on the sidelines and complain about the play-calling; the hard work is in executing those plays against tough opposition — namely budget constraints, ill-informed critics and apathy of the populace in general.

That apathy bore itself out in Sedalia’s most recent election, where two City Council members ran unopposed and not enough candidates filed to require a vote for the Sedalia School District 200 Board of Education. Mind you, we are not criticizing those who assumed those seats without opposition — it’s not their fault that no one else was willing to make that commitment to our community.

Local government goes well beyond elected officials; there are employees in multiple departments who work daily to ensure our municipal parks are in good shape, that our garbage is picked up, that potholes get filled and that our neighbors are not able to let their weeds grow taller than their mailbox. These are folks who strive to maintain and elevate the quality of living in our community.

It may not come with a parade or a day off work, but Local Government Week is an occasion that we are hopeful will give residents an opportunity to consider many of the positive effects their tax dollars are having.