Opinion

Demystify the process of government: Join the Snoqualmie Citizens Academy

Have you ever really thought about how your city works? Where it gets its revenues? How it spends them? Who runs the city, who keeps your streets safe and water flowing?

If you’ve ever been mystified by the process of government, prepare to be demystified.

This fall, we begin year eight of the Snoqualmie Citizens Academy, the annual free class on local government held by the city of Snoqualmie. This academy is locally unique. Snoqualmie is among a handful of burgs nationwide that educates its residents about all facets of government, to raise them up as truly informed and active citizens, through a real class.

What’s neat about the Citizens Academy is that it takes what’s normally invisible—all the stuff that’s taken for granted, like where your water comes from and what happens to it when it enters your drain—and gives it meaning. It’s a hands-on, simple way to get an education into the gears of government. The only cost is your time. It takes a few weeknights and one Saturday.

City Clerk Jodi Warren started the academy when her local affairs surveys kept showing how people confused the roles and responsibilities of cities and other governments, such as school districts or the county. Since then, hundreds have taken the course, learned the truth of how the city operates, graduated, and some have gone on to roles as volunteers and board members of various city organizations.

It so happens that Mayor Matt Larson weighs attendance at an Academy on whether or not he’ll appoint you to a citizen commission, on the basis that someone who already understands the system can make a better decision.

You learn a lot, but it’s also fun. You’ll take a hands-on tour of the local fire and police stations, the public works yard, and learn about what’s new in city parks. For residents of North Bend, this fall is a good time to meet the Snoqualmie police force, who are now providing patrols in your community.

There are always things about our community that we can change for the better. In a democracy, we do this by getting involved, volunteering or running for office. If you have concerns or hopes for your city and want to actually do something about them, you’d do well to start with the academy.

Academy applications are on the city website, www.ci.snoqualmie.wa.us. You can also call Jodi Warren, City Clerk, at (425) 888-1555 ext. 1118 or send an e-mail to jwarren@ci.snoqualmie.wa.us.

 

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