With the New Year just a few days away, many of us are contemplating resolutions. Setting goals in your personal and professional life are important, and we hope you’re able to stick with them. But we’d also like to encourage civic-mindedness in 2015, and with that in mind, here are some other things we encourage Kenai Peninsula residents to resolve:
— Vote. The election calendar is much lighter this year than in 2014. The city of Soldotna will hold a special election Feb. 3 to decide whether to form a charter commission to write a home-rule charter, and to elect commission members. City and borough elections are the first Tuesday in October. Seats on the borough assembly, board of education and city councils will be on the ballot. A proposition regarding sales tax collected on groceries will be on the ballot; additional measures may qualify for the ballot, too.
— Attend a public meeting. Or several. All too often, it seems people show up for meetings only to complain after a decision has been made. Meanwhile, there are plenty of good seats available at most public meetings. There are plenty of public meetings in addition to city council, school board and assembly meetings — service area boards, Fish and Game advisory committees, city commissions, legislative town hall sessions, just to name a few. These are the bodies that influence policy or make decisions that hit closest to home. Be there to keep an eye on the decision-making process. It’s much more effective than complaining after a measure has been passed.
—Submit public comment. As many public meetings as there are, there are even more councils, committees and agencies looking for input on everything from fishing regulations to budget priorities to pending legislation. Chances are that someone is looking for feedback on a topic with which you are familiar. Share your opinion. Public officials frequently make decisions based on input from just the few people most passionate about an issue. The vast majority of Alaskans are silent on most issues. We’re fortunate to live in a place where government officials are accessible and responsive. Take advantage of that access to help shape public policy.
— Last, but certainly not least, volunteer. There may be no greater way to contribute to the community in which you live than to share your time and talent. Volunteer opportunities abound on the central Kenai Peninsula. Commitments can be as little as an hour or two here and there, or as involved as joining the board of a non-profit organization. Every contribution helps. Participate in a community clean-up day, read to children at a school (you don’t have to have kids that go there), help at a water station for a local race, walk dogs at the animal shelter, help organize a community-wide event, spend a day helping at the food bank, drive patients to cancer treatment sessions, coach a youth sport (you don’t have to have a kid to be involved in that one, either), get involved in your church, spend a few days swinging a hammer on a Habitat for Humanity house — there’s plenty to do, and many hands make light work.
We wish everyone a healthy and prosperous 2015. And we encourage everyone to take the time to make our community healthy and prosperous in the year ahead, too.