Recall shows need for informed public

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By Greg Romberg

Your ballot for the Evergreen Fire Protection District recall election should have arrived in the mail by this time. I am voting to retain all four current members of the board. I encourage you to do the same.

It’s unfortunate that we’re both subject to and footing the bill for a recall election. Recall elections are blunt objects that should be reserved for cases of corruption, malfeasance or gross negligence or incompetence. This recall was instigated because people disagreed with a decision made by the duly elected board of the district. After the initial disagreement was raised, the board reopened discussions, listened to dissenters and affirmed its decision to build a fire training facility.
To recall board members based on this situation is an abuse of the recall process whether we agree with the decision to build the training facility or not.
But the bigger issue the whole situation uncovers is the woeful lack of participation we have in special district elections in this community that, when coupled with a governance structure caused by our status as an unincorporated part of a county, leads us to situations in which members of the public provide too little input to elected officials. When either EFPD or the Evergreen Park and Recreation District make decisions that rub anyone the wrong way, we seem to see reactions that show much more interest and involvement than we see during election cycles.
When we allow a handful of people to determine who will sit on the elected boards of directors of our special districts and don’t work to thoroughly understand what both the professional staff and the candidates for office want to do, we get what we deserve when we disagree with the decisions our elected bodies make.
If we had a city council that had oversight of our parks and fire departments as well as the other things that municipal governments typically do, we might both pay more attention to the people we elect and have elected officials who have a broader sense of public sensibilities than people who get elected to oversee a single governmental function.
In the time we’ve lived in Evergreen, the issue of incorporation has been discussed several times. It never seems to get much traction, which isn’t much of a surprise given the fact that we receive services from the county that are comparable to what we’d get from a municipality without having to foot as much of the bill that incorporation would require.
While it’s not clear whether the current recall effort is an overreaction by a group of disgruntled residents or an indictment of how we’ve chosen to govern ourselves, it is clear that we get the government we deserve. Going forward, we need to be more responsible about understanding the agendas of candidates for local office and diligently participating in both elections and public input opportunities.
Recalls should be saved for truly outrageous conduct. Send that message by voting to retain the current EFPD board members.

Greg Romberg is president of Romberg and Associates, a government relations and public affairs firm. He lives in Evergreen with his wife, Laurie, and three daughters.