I get messages through the web site, on Facebook and in person from people who have complaints or questions about how or why things are done in our local government. I certainly don’t have any answers, but I try to answer them as best I can or point them in the right direction.
Then I hear about people on our city council or in other elected offices in Mineola that run unopposed in elections. It makes me wonder why more people don’t seek to get involved in our city government. I guess the obvious answer is that these are volunteer positions, no money. But I don’t accept that answer. There are too many people out there doing wonderful things for the community, either in civic clubs or in other ways, and those people are volunteers too. I mean, why would someone volunteer to plan or participate in an event that requires months of planning or meetings but not be willing to be part of the panel that makes policy and laws for the city that they live in?
Lots of us don’t live in the city limits. That excludes myself and many whom I know. But I think getting involved in politics is often either intimidating to people or they feel like they just can’t make a difference. If you have ever been to a Mineola City Council meeting, it is clear to see that one person can make a difference. I have seen several issues discussed and voted on where one outspoken voice seemed to carry the weight of the outcome. I have seen other votes where it seemed like everyone was just waiting for someone to take a position, make a motion and call for a vote. I realize that there is often more happening than what takes place at the public meetings, but these meetings are important and if people want change in this town, this May is a fine opportunity to allow your voice to be heard.
The deadline to register to run for any local office on the ballot in May is Friday March 1, 2013 at 5 PM. Registration is done by the nice folks at the city clerk’s office in city hall. This registration is public record and as of noon today (2-12-2003), nobody has declared to run for anything in Mineola. This is often the case as most people choose to wait until much closer to the deadline to register. There is no cost to run for office. Your only qualification is that you live in the city limits for mayor and that you live in the ward you are running for, for city council.
I currently know of at least one position on the Mineola City Council that may be up for grabs this election cycle. There may be more as we get closer to the declaration deadline.
The people who hold these offices are not all lawyer types. They aren’t there because they spent lots of dollars on a campaign. They are the same people you see around town. They are from all walks of life. They are people who have chosen to get involved in their city government. Sometimes, city council members are chosen by the existing council because nobody ran in a given ward.
Getting involved in the city government in a town this size is a great way to make a difference in your town. The city council determines the rules for the most part. They set the policy. They serve an important role, but these positions do not require full-time work. There are two pubic meetings per month. Certainly other things will need to be done to fulfill your duty, but these are in no way high stress, demanding jobs, but in a town that is changing like Mineola is, these positions can be vitally important to the future of this town. To me, the investment/return ratio seems to be greatly in favor of someone who wants to see changes. I’m not saying this won’t be work. I am only saying that entry into local politics in Mineola may not be out of reach if you live in the designated area and have opinions about how things should be done.
My only purpose here is to let people know, or maybe remind them, that some of your elected representatives are there because nobody ran against them. I am NOT saying that anyone in any position in our government should not be there. I believe that in general, our city government is good. My opinion is that we need some changes, but I think those changes will be made in May. Maybe our town could be better with your ideas and your energy, but we’ll never know that unless more people get involved in it.
It’s not about politics. It’s not about Democrat, Republican, liberal or conservative or any other ideology. It’s about getting involved in your local government and working to make Mineola the town that you think it should be. If you find yourself talking to others about why things are done they way they are done, maybe it is time for you to be the one influencing some of those decisions.
As a guide, here are the monthly city calendars (from the city’s web site) for 2013. Not everything on the calendar pertains to the city council. It appears that any items you want added to the agenda are due the Thursday before the monthly workshop. This is also the deadline for citizen requests to the agenda. Details are discussed and worked out during the workshop and the actual votes take place during the Monday meetings.
– Scott Hazard