Encouraged By Voter Participation

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For us, the most encouraging thing to come out of this election was the sheer number of people who participated in the process.

It is unusual for so many -- 62 percent of registered voters -- to cast a ballot during a nonpresidential election. Often, our local elections see a 35 percent turnout at best.

Now that the ballots are counted, we hope to see this new level of participation continue during the upcoming council's term.

According to the town's organization chart, we, the citizenry, employ the town council. We tell them what to do and they, in turn, set policy for the town.

It's not enough that 62 percent of us voted. Our responsibility runs deeper.

As Payson transforms from a dusty pioneer hamlet to a contemporary municipality, we must speak and understand the language of government if we are to control our destiny.

We teach our children about federal and state government in school, but rarely do they learn about the leadership of their own hometowns. Let them see us involved -- reading newspaper articles, attending council meetings, staying informed.

While it was the controversies that drew many people into this election process, those will pass. It will quietly transition into the day-to-day workings of government that may not be as enticing, but are just as important.

A sidewalk ordinance may not ignite the passions of people in the same way that water issues do, and obscure budget line items may not seem as personal as rezoning in your neighborhood, but these details that build a town should still fill the seats of a council meeting.

The Town is sometimes accused of not keeping residents informed, but in the past few years, the council and staff have worked to provide more information than ever before. Through government-access Channel 4, you can view town council meetings and talk shows with community leaders. The Town works with the radio stations and this newspaper to provide timely information. The Town also provides a newsletter and maintains a Web site.

Encouraged by the numbers, and with these valuable information tools, we look forward to this new era in our town -- an era of involvement, an era where the previous night's town council meeting is discussed in the aisles of the grocery store, an era without apathy where we collectively take the helm of this town and steer it into the future.

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