Last updated: September 05. 2013 3:44PM - 88 Views

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“Hat’s off to Mayor Elaine Horn’s column in Sunday’s paper and all those who volunteer. Instead of being so critical of how our city operates step up and volunteer: You, too, can make a difference,” insisted one caller in the most recent edition of the Sedline.

There’s a popular sentiment that says that you can only criticize someone’s job performance if you actually have some personal experience in that field. I’ve never subscribed to that theory, because that would severely limit most people from contributing to most discussions.

Imagine a world where a large number of film critics are out of business because most of them have never personally directed a motion picture. Imagine a world where bureaucrats only faced questioning from other bureaucrats.

One need not be intimately familiar with the minutiae of any given job in order to have a perfectly valid opinion regarding the personnel filling that role, good or bad.

But with that being said, analysis is probably a little more valid when it is coming from someone with proper experience in the field of discussion. That’s not always the case: There are plenty of people in the world who manage to thrive in their position in a largely accidental and/or cronyistic sort of way who probably couldn’t lob any valid criticism at their peers.

And it is ultimately true that usually things are not often fixed by merely complaining about them, especially if you only complain about them in private conversations and on the Internet.

There are a number of boards, commissions and other assorted groups of people that assist the city government with various matters. There’s probably a board for you, because everyone has an area of expertise. Taxes, trees and trustees: any board that you please!

Yes, city-level board work is probably largely thankless. There is no pay, and that jerk down the street who steals your paper will probably never know that it was your impassioned argument that made sure his taxes weren’t going up. You’ve got to do it for the satisfaction that you’ve made things better or at least prevented them from getting worse, because you’re not getting much else.

But, of course, if you wanted to do even more work for about the same amount of appreciation, you could always file a petition to be on the Sedalia City Council.

I was sad to see that the most recent round of elections dealt with seats that were either uncontested or only slightly tested. I run into many people who seem to have a lot of ideas about how a medium-sized Missouri town should be run, but few of them are willing to put any real effort and time into it.

It makes me want to enter the fray myself, because I’m sure I could at least put up a good fight based on name recognition alone.

There are probably many who would love to be on the City Council if they didn’t have to go through the motions of getting there. If council seats were handed out like candy, they would gladly cup their hands. Who doesn’t want business cards that say “City Councilman/Councilwoman?”

In fact, for the sake of getting people excited about city government, we should make it a little easier to get on the ballot. United States citizenship, at least one year of city residency, at least six months of ward residency and at least 21 years of age are all good qualifications. (Though I might argue that age should be brought down to 18, because if you’re old enough to have input on who should fill the seat then you’re probably old enough to fill it yourself.) But I don’t know that we need to insist on the 25-person petitions. What if every voter in the ward has a “No Solicitation” sign? What if there aren’t 25 reasonably accessible voters in their ward? What if Sedalia’s next top councilperson has an irrational fear of clipboards and small talk?

If you’ve got 50 American dollars and meet all the other qualifications, then you should be on the ballot if you so desire. The filing fees will cover the insignificant extra expenses that come from a few extra options for each seat — it’s always better to have more choices.

What would convince you to run for City Council?

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