Our View: Community craves leadership from elected officials | CraigDailyPress.com

Our View: Community craves leadership from elected officials

When the public elects officials, the hope is that they'll make wise, well-informed decisions, act with transparency and show leadership in order to generate positive change.

In the past three years, there's been a lot of turnover on Moffat County's elected boards in the hope that new blood and diverse representation will make our community better.

Yet, our county commissioners, city council and the school board are divided, some elected officials don't seem to understand the level of responsibility they have in crafting annual budgets or communicating with constituents, and the school board kicked off its first retreat as a new governing body with infighting.

We'd like to kindly remind those elected into office — by the people, for the people — that we chose to elect you, and with that appointment comes great responsibility.

City and county officials who've sat in budget meetings for the past several weeks, crunching numbers and seeking solutions to shortfalls, aren't answering simple budget questions asked by constituents. Your job is to work for those who voted you into office, to communicate with them and act transparently, not defensively, when community members seek information.

You were elected to balance the budget. It's your job to become informed, make difficult decisions, communicate those decisions and take responsibility for them — both as individuals and as boards.

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Additionally, these boards will never be functional if members don't stop pointing fingers at each other and start communicating. Have respect for the community that voted you into office. It's your job to create a professional working environment, and it's disrespectful to talk behind each other's backs.

The community — including your employees — is tired of hearing why you take issue with each other. Sit down and hash it out. You are allowed to disagree. In fact, we expect you to have differing opinions as you work out how to tackle tough issues. But, a level of civility is something we also expect.

We're also concerned with how our elected boards encourage (or discourage) public participation and input. Commissioners open their meetings for "general discussion" for those who can stop by at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday mornings. Residents who want to comment at city council meetings must sit through a slew of department, staff and seemingly endless council reports, and in order to address the school board, residents must "sign up" at the beginning of the meeting and then can only speak to topics on the agenda. If your issue isn't on the agenda, you must call seven days in advance and ask to be on the agenda.

We understand the need for timely meetings, but these processes don't give the impression that our elected officials want to hear from their constituents.

Some school board members are suggesting a policy that the board not speak publicly at all outside of school board meetings. It's every board member's responsibility to speak to the public and the media inside and outside of board meetings. It's called transparency. Teachers, parents and other taxpayers are desperate for openness, and we are entitled to access to our elected leaders. Period.

And, our elected officials have every right to speak in whatever capacity at whatever venue they want to do so. They are not employees, they can only be "fired" by voters and you can bet that if residents don't feel they have access to someone they voted for, they will not be voting for them again.

It appears that you have something to hide if you say, "don't talk to the community or members of the media unless the entire board is present," a statement made at last week's school board retreat.

It's like a child telling a sibling, "Don't talk to Mom unless we're together so that our story is the same."

Bottom line is all our elected officials need to show leadership, transparency and work together like adults. They work for the people who elected them and are accountable to them.

Editorial Board

Renee Campbell: Newspaper representative

Noelle Leavitt Riley: Newspaper representative

Sheli Steele: Newspaper representative

Christina Oxley: Community representative

Brenda Elsbree: Community representative