Get involved at city level


December 3, 2020

Per request of the mayor on behalf of the city, I am reminding you that I am speaking only for myself, not for the city, not for the mayor, and not for other council members. In order to keep myself out of potential hot water, and to keep others comfortable with what I am doing, I’m now and in the future writing these pieces solely as a private citizen, who, because of several years' attendance at council meetings previously as a private citizen, understand quite a bit about city administration. I’m a “communicator” and think systems work best when people understand how they work. And I think informed citizens are likely to be more interested and involved citizens. One thing I have noted over the years is that the mayor and council members work hard for the city and do so with the best interests of the city and citizens in mind. I don’t always agree with the priorities, but that’s democracy for you. Majority wins.

Hopefully, you are all aware that the city is advertising for applicants to fill the vacant seat in Ward 1, most recently filled by Lynne Kersten. Ward 1 is from Spruce Street west. With great respect and appreciation, the council joked that Lynne was the proofreader for all. She had great attention to detail and picked up errors and omissions that other members didn’t notice. She is missed! The perplexing but not surprising issue regarding the vacant seat in Ward 1 is that there have been no applicants for it. Why is that? Why do the citizens of Thompson Falls, raising families here, working and/or owning businesses here, having what is most people’s largest financial investment here, your home, relying on this community for quality of life for your family, depending on the education system to prepare your children for the future… Why do you not apply to be on the city council?

One reason is that between work and family, you’re busy. I get that. But there are quite a few of you whose children are high school graduates and you as parents aren’t run ragged any more keeping up with educational needs and school events (and not all of us have families locally). I am thinking that over the 17 years or so of raising your family and working, living, recreating and socializing here, you’ve learned a lot about Blue Hawk country and have occasionally wished something was different or you see room for improvements or advancements in various areas. There are several ways to help improve our community and move it into the future and being a member of the city council is one of them. It’s not that time consuming, but some times of the year require a greater commitment to council requirements than others.

Council meetings occur on the second Monday of each month and are held at 6 p.m., currently at the Community Center on Golf Street. Each council member sits on three subcommittees (Budget/Finance, Recreation/Public Properties, Police Commission/Planning Committee, Streets and Alleys/Board of Adjustment, Water and Sewer, Community and Public Relations). When these committees meet, date/time/location are published a minimum of 48 hours in advance and the public is always welcome to attend council/subcommittee meetings. You might know little to nothing about the subjects listed. But if you’re willing to learn, more experienced council members and city staff are willing to teach (Chelsea, Erica, Neil are all very knowledgeable city employees). And for this, you’ll be paid $135.52, which helps with the heating bill.

Besides the routine business of the council described in my first article, you have the opportunity to work with other council members to improve our town in ways that may have been bothering you or your future constituents, or work on a project appropriate to city administration that’s near and dear to your heart. It’s very hard to live and invest so much in a community and not think of ways to help move it into the future in the best way possible. Being a member of the city council is an opportunity to make a difference in very positive ways to ensure our community keeps getting better and better. I grew up here and always say that for me, Thompson Falls is much more than just a place to live, so seeing improvements made over the years makes me happy and hopeful while continuing to live here. Thank you, city council members and mayors, past and present!

As mentioned before I got sidetracked, there is a vacant seat on the council. At least one of you in Ward 1 (and hopefully lots more than one of you) is full of initiative and the desire to help our city move into the future with style. With bounce in your step, or not, go on down to City Hall and apply to be a council member. The council currently has five members plus the mayor who are anxious to welcome you.

When I started this, I said I would only submit articles when seized by an idea. I’m being seized frequently at the moment. It won’t last long.

Ruth Cheney,

Thompson Falls


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