Remembering civics | Editorial

As the 2012 election season draws to a close I have found more folks than usual telling me they will be happy to see it end. I hear that during every political dodge ball season, but people appear more exhausted by it than usual to me … or maybe I am.

I am involved in a number of Sound Publishing newspapers with some very nasty races.

Probably the most hostile on the street level is a change of government measure in Black Diamond. Residents are deciding whether to change from a strong mayor system to a council manager. The city has been strong mayor for more than 50 years, but a large development has split the community into factions and one group wants to get rid of the mayor.

In my experience, change of government votes always get very personal.

Last week I learned about the Silverdale incorporation measure heading for the February ballot. The plan is for a council-manger form of government, which is usually considered to be the best form for new cities.

A council of seven with a city manager to get the ball rolling is as good a way to go as any.

The real trouble begins if the folks hoping for incorporation get their wish.

Covington incorporated in 1997 as did Maple Valley. During the first four or five years Covington went through some serious growing pains — yelling, screaming, some bad words and not a lot of thought.

Maple Valley went to battle around 2008.

The best news I can provide for Silverdale or any other city, is the bad times eventually give way to calm. Eventually the government wheel must turn.

I have a couple of theories concerning this.

One is our system of governing can excel under the best and withstand the worst. So far I have been proven correct, and I hope that continues. I believe the reason for this can be found by reading the U.S. Constitution.

I have seen and covered some poor government officials and just as many activists looking out for their holy self interests under the drapery of community watchfulness or patriotism.

Our forms of government have withstood both, and held up under the strain.

Covington is a good example. It is now one of the smoothest running cities I have ever covered, and the community is thriving.

If the Silverdale incorporation goes forward, it may be worth while for the officials and volunteers to study what worked and didn’t in some of the cities that incorporated in the late 1990s. There was quite a number of them due to changes in the state law.

The second theory is based on a conversation I had with Howard Botts, former mayor of Black Diamond. He was talking about council-manager and strong-mayor forms of government for cities. Howard said what makes any form of government work is the people, those elected and those who vote.

It comes down to grade-school civics. People matter, voting matters and staying informed is a responsibility.

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