Community engagement


September 1, 2022

One of my favorite unofficial holidays is right around the corner: Petersburg Municipal Election Day. I tell you, it’s downright festive. Colorful decorations are poked into lawns with care. The town is abuzz with anticipation leading up to the big night. It’s exciting!

And my heartfelt appreciation goes out to all the candidates for local elected office: every last one of them a neighbor to us all, volunteering their time, ideas and experience, sacrificing at times their privacy and peace of mind, all offering to meet the ever-present need for community leadership. I’m sure it can be stressful and thankless at times.

It is a generous gift that each of them gives us all.

And we all know the local people on the ballot, or at least we will have many opportunities to get to know them: hard working, imperfect, community minded folk, every one of ‘em.

And sure, it’s easy to treat politics like a team sport and fall prey to the us versus them mentality, and at the worst of times we think “us” is supposed to hate “them.” But if we think like that in Petersburg, we’ve truly got it wrong. The reality is there’s just one team at the local level. And you’re on it, and so am I, and so is every candidate and so is their opponent. No matter who wins a seat on election day, they’ve all gotta pull that seat up to the same table and commit themselves to the common business of Petersburg.

Disagreement is inevitable. Disagreement is an opportunity to listen better and find the healthy compromise. It’s a necessary part of the civil work of self-governance. If you start believing for a second that the people in your community who disagree with you are your enemy, I don’t know...you should probably throw your cable TV in the dumpster, unplug from social media, maybe drink a glass of water, and take a nice walk outside.

We owe it to ourselves and each other to open our eyes enough to find the common ground we’re all standing right on. If you can’t see it, turn up your curiosity and your respect, and look more. The common ground is everything around you.

We’re enormously fortunate here. We get to choose our leaders from among us and we get to hold them accountable, in much the same way that we each must hold ourselves accountable to do the best with what we have.

Election season is a time of heightened community engagement, and that fact alone gives me a boost of hope and gratitude.

Tuesday, October 4th is just over a month away. If you’re new here or for any reason aren’t registered to vote, here’s another reminder that you’ve got to register by September 4th to cast your vote in the municipal election, and you can be darn sure that every single vote matters.

To help your votes be well-informed, the Pilot has sent out questionnaires to the candidates in each contested race, and we’ll print their answers in coming weeks. Also, we’re working with KFSK Community Radio to organize live candidate

forums toward the end of this month.

The Pilot invites you to suggest a question for the mayor,

assembly, hospital board, or harbor board candidates.

Email your questions to pilotpub@gmail.com.


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