Forward thinking: On being informed and involved

The decision had been made . . .

I had decided to run for City Council.  My decision had been months in the making.  There had been conversations galore. I had shared my thoughts with family, friends and business associates. The feedback I had received was very positive – go for it.

It was then that I decided to inform my parents and include them in my next grand adventure. After all, I was their only child and that seemed to be the appropriate and respectful thing to do. I remember the occasion well. I called them on the phone. As it rang, I could feel the excitement building in anticipation of sharing my decision with them. Then a voice on the other end of the line said, “Hello.”

“Dad, I have something exciting to share with you! I have decided to run for a position on the City Council here in Lynnwood.” Dead silence. In what seemed like an eternity, I waited for him to congratulate me and wish me well. Then came his response.

“Why would you want to do a fool thing like that?”

I wish I could tell you that my father’s attitude about politics and politicians in general was an exception.  However, after serving on the Lynnwood Council for sixteen years, I fear it is more the norm rather than the exception – at least on the local level. I’m afraid too many have bought into the negative adage that “You can’t beat City Hall.”

If a democratic-republic form of government is to function properly – including the municipal level – the people must be both informed and involved. However, there is mounting evidence that in these United States–yes, even Lynnwood–that both bench marks are declining rapidly and significantly for whatever reason.  That does not bode well for our future.

Stop and think with me for just a moment:

What form of government does Lynnwood have? Do you know the name of Lynnwood’s mayor?  How many elected officials serve on the City Council? Do you know any of them personally? Do you vote when local elections are held? Have you ever attended a council work session or business meeting in person? Have you ever volunteered to serve on a city board or commission? Have you ever attended an Open House or Town Hall Meeting? Have you ever called, e-mailed or set an appointment with a local elected official to express concern or offer a solution to a challenge in our community?

I have come to believe that government and politics at the local level is the laboratory of democracy.  A community is a reflection of the civic engagement of its citizens. Our form of government is not a spectator sport. It is hard work and unfortunately at times it can be ugly.

Stated somewhat differently, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people demands the people’s engagement and ongoing work.  Our options are limited. We can be part of the solution (involved) or part of the problem (uninvolved).  Either way, the ground work for the future is being laid today!

unnamed (29).jpgIt may surprise you, but everything I have said up to this point is prologue to what I want to say next.  I want to strongly encourage you to register now and attend Lynnwood University starting in September. It is a wonderful opportunity for you to become better informed as to how your local government works and help set the stage for being more involved.

LU is an eight week course offered to Lynnwood residents, free of charge. The classes are on Thursdays from Sept. 8 through Oct. 27. Each session runs from 6:30–8:30 p.m. Demonstrations, tours and hands-on activities are presented by city staff, council members and Mayor Nicola Smith.

Some of the things that you can expect to learn and experience include:

  • Meet Mayor Smith and the City Council
  • Visit Fire Station 15 and try on firefighting gear
  • Meet the SWAT Team and interface with a Police K-9 unit
  • Tour the Traffic Management Center
  • Receive an update on the City Center and other Development Projects
  • Tour the Municipal Court and Lynnwood Jail
  • Discover volunteer opportunities
  • Learn about Lynnwood’s history
  • Be informed about various City support services

To learn more or to register, call 425-670-5023 or visit www.LynnwoodWA.gov/LynnwoodUniversity

In summary, I can’t encourage you enough to attend Lynnwood University.

It is a great learning experience. The investment of time is moderate. The price is right.  Most importantly, it is a significant first step towards meaningful civic engagement at the local level. LU will get your “juices” flowing!

Until next time . . .
Loren (1)–By Loren Simmonds

Loren Simmonds has been a resident of Lynnwood for 35 years. He served on the City Council for 16 years. Loren works as a consultant, writer, speaker and trainer. He is currently a member of the Lynnwood Parks and Recreation Foundation.

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