Having a voice in decisions matters

"Democracy worked just the way it was supposed to last week when a group of citizens organized an appeal to a Kitsap County decision and had a hearing before a hearing examiner. The topic was a wastewater (okay, it's sewage) line and pump station planned for Liberty Bay and Lemolo. It's not a provocative, world-changing subject--unless you happen to care deeply about the quality of water in Liberty Bay and live near the proposed pump station in Lemolo. Even though no decision has yet been rendered, both sides won. A group of Lemolo citizens spent nearly two years organizing facts and locating expert testimony. Poulsbo and county officials also studied and conducted hearings, exploration, testing and fact-finding in order to determine the best decision for the community and Liberty Bay. Both sides treated each other's viewpoints respectfully and sought the best environmental and financial outcome for the taxpayers. Everyone involved in the hearing walked out of the courthouse in Port Orchard feeling proud to have been part of this decision-making process. Both sides felt well-served and heard. We're seeing more of that kind of positive outcome lately. Angeline Avenue neighbors and the Suquamish Tribe worked through their mutual concerns in a series of meetings. Even the thornier UGA hearings are moving in a positive direction. Credit county and city officials for a good measure of the progress you're seeing. Respectful treatment, prompt responses and outside the box solutions are becoming more common in moving forward on some difficult issues. But, let's also remember to credit individual citizens who are willing to sit through hours of meetings and hearings, clearly articulate their viewpoints, gather facts to support their positions, and then work together to make life better for all of us. The commitment and possibility of this kind of meaningful involvement in decision-making is one of the best reasons we know to live in a small community. If you're not already involved, join in. Your efforts will be rewarded. Just ask the folks in Lemolo. "

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