As 2020 ends and 2021 begins, many among us are thinking about how we can make positive changes in our own lives and in our larger community. Despite the turmoil of recent events, many of your neighbors have been getting involved in community affairs by contacting elected officials, volunteering for campaigns and causes, and speaking out on issues of concern. In the coming months, citizens like you have the opportunity to make a difference by volunteering to run for local office in the special district election happening on May 18.
A special district is a form of local government created to meet a specific community need. While school districts are not technically considered special districts, voting for school board happens on the same ballot as the special district election. The Willamalane Park and Recreation District — on which I am honored to serve — is a special district too. Other examples right here in Lane County include the Port of Siuslaw, fire districts, water districts, library districts, people’s utility districts, and many more. Each special district receives funding from property tax revenues, fees charged for providing services, or a combination of both.
There are around 100 total school districts and special districts in Lane County, according to the Lane Council of Governments, and each is governed by a volunteer board of directors. That means our community needs committed citizens like you to volunteer to serve. Each district has a budget that must be approved by the board, meaning volunteers like you have the power to make sure our tax dollars are spent wisely. Boards of directors also hire leadership staff and set policy for their districts, so board members have the ability to ensure our public services are delivered effectively and efficiently to everyone who needs them.
Running for local office is a great way to get to know your neighbors by reaching out and talking about our shared community values. Many of the seats will end up vacant if no one steps forward to run. If there are two or more candidates in the race, campaigning for these local positions is usually inexpensive and non-contentious. All positions are non-partisan, but if you are registered as a Democrat or Republican you can reach out to your local party office for help getting started.
The Democratic Party of Lane County is hosting a free, informational discussion for community members who are thinking about throwing their hat in the ring to make a difference by running for local office this May. This event is happening over Zoom and is open to everyone — you don’t have to be a registered Democrat to join. Please visit bit.ly/dplcpanel to sign up to receive the Zoom meeting login info.
Chris Wig serves as the Chair of the Democratic Party of Lane County and works as the director of a local behavioral health treatment program. He serves the Springfield community as an elected member of the Willamalane Park and Recreation District Board of Directors; the opinions expressed in this guest viewpoint are his own and are not intended to represent Willamalane.