HERMISTONCity celebrates new playground at Sunset Park

Children play on playground equipment at Sunset Park in Hermiston.

Public feedback to government entities is a crucial piece of democracy and that is why residents in Hermiston should take advantage of an opportunity to furnish input on the city’s parks and recreation district master plan.

Hermiston officials even made providing input easy. The city has posted an online survey — accessible until Nov. 1 — for input from residents about how they feel about Hermiston’s parks and recreation facilities. The survey then asks residents to rate — or prioritize — other potential projects, such as an indoor aquatic center and other proposed ventures.

The survey is anonymous and if local residents can, they should participate.

That’s because whether we like it or not, democracy is a two-way street. Elected and appointed officials are supposed to make decisions and plan for the future but they need, from time to time, to take the temperature of the body politic.

That’s why the survey is such a good idea. Residents can go online, fill out the survey and show their representatives what they believe to be the key projects for the future.

We all too often elect not to participate in democracy. Criticizing and complaining about a project or policy is fine as far as it goes but in the end voters must let their voices be heard.

The parks and recreation survey doesn’t concern a multimillion-dollar government — hence taxpayer — sponsored project but it symbolizes how people can get involved and why they should.

Participation in our democracy seems to be on the decline now more than ever. Fewer people vote in presidential, state and local elections than in the past. That’s troubling. We all want the best country, county or town possible but that doesn’t happen without public involvement. Shuffling off responsibility to elected or appointed leaders and then criticizing their actions isn’t really democracy. It is about avoiding responsibility.

Our system of government was designed to be one where voters should — and must — be involved. It doesn’t work if folks do not, on a regular basis, give feedback. That means taking time out of the day to do such things as take a survey, or deciding one evening to attend a city council meeting. It also means asking questions and holding officials accountable. Asking questions isn’t a crime and voters should feel they have an obligation to do so.

The survey is good idea and just one small example of how residents can get and stay involved in their community.

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