Tony Ahern
   Apathy is rampant.
   Once again no one is showing any interest in serving on the Madras City Council. The city has been advertising for someone interested in serving out an unexpired term for weeks. So far, no one has stepped forward.
   Underscoring this, no one ran for the last open position last fall until Marc Heckathorn conducted a late write-in effort. He received 84 votes ... and it was enough to land him a spot on the council!
   Give Mr. Heckathorn credit for making himself available. He certainly would have gotten more votes had his name been on a ballot. But it's disconcerting that just a handful of votes can secure a spot on the governing board of this town.
   Where is this city's leadership, now and for the future? Where are the business leaders, teachers, industry's mid-management who should be serving? Where are the multi-talented retirees with so much knowledge, or the sharp housewives and househusbands who could contribute so much? Answer: mostly living out of town.
   The community's tight city limits puts a lid on the pool of candidates for city positions. A majority of the people now living in the city limits are more worried about getting and/or keeping a job than making policy decisions for the city of Madras. The confines of the city limits are becoming more and more limited socio-economically while the middle class is moving to the outskirts of town, or out of town altogether. That may have an elitist ring to it, but it's a fact.
   Certainly a person's economic status has no bearing on whether they'd be a good councilor or not. What make a good city council member? Having a background in business or finance; having experience volunteering with community projects or in service groups; having an understanding of how government works; and primarily having an internal commitment to do what one can to improve the city. Call me cynical but I would guess that the pool of people that meet those criteria now living within the city limits of Madras -- on a percentage basis -- is half what it was 20 years ago.
   The Hispanic population in the city limits is growing by large numbers. It's time -- it's past time -- that more local leadership emerges from the Hispanic community. For the betterment of the Hispanic population, and the entire community, more Hispanic leadership must be cultivated.
   Filling in an unexpired term is a great way to establish oneself on the council without having to face the voters, which is a foreboding thought if you are Hispanic, Anglo, or anything else. Now is a great time to get involved.
   One of the side benefits of the city's recent annexation efforts is that it will draw more people into the city limits, increasing the pool to serve on the council and other city government boards. That will indeed be a positive.
   Madras is growing steadily, but it is transforming even faster than its growing. Good council candidates are hard to find. If you think you fit the bill, please stand up. See the city's ad on page 6. Your chance to make a huge impact on this town in transition awaits.
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