I am a proud graduate of the Leadership Sheridan County Class of 2018, the 25th class, and clearly the best. Part of being in LSC is making the commitment to be involved with one of the modules for the next class. You and a couple classmates are assigned a month and in charge of arranging that day’s schedule including speakers, food and transportation.
I hit the jackpot on this. First, we have the first real module the class has attended (the first two were orientation and a trip to Cheyenne) so we set the bar for the rest of the year. Second, we were assigned the city module and one of my classmates is the city clerk, Cecilia Good. Are you kidding me? She pretty much organized the entirety of the schedule single-handedly, leaving my other classmate, Brett Welker to be in charge of transportation, and me on food detail. This is right in my skill set. At LSC, breakfast and lunch are critically important and I live to feed.
Because this column is all about me (oh, and the community and me), I want to point out that last year’s city module landed on my 50th birthday so I wore a light-up tiara for the occasion. Holding the fire hose and keeping the tiara steady was impressive.
Anyway, the city module starts with a trip to the recycling center, which I found to be mind-blowing last year. Ask my family — I am a recycling Nazi and not above screaming at someone for putting an aluminum can in the trash instead of the recycling bin. Hey — I’m trying to save the planet for you, people! To see all the recycling get dumped in a small mountain by front-end loaders, travel up a conveyor belt and then along a row of employees separating all of it by hand was impressive, to say the least.
Then off to city hall and up to council chambers to hear from the mayor, councilors and city administrator. I am impressed with anyone who runs for public office, whether I agree with his or her politics or not. You know why? Because there is no way I’m doing it.
I am a strong believer in the credo that if you don’t like what’s happening, stop complaining and get involved. Whether that’s getting on the fairgrounds board or running for office, put your money (and/or time) where your mouth is.
When I first moved to Sheridan, I watched this play out in a subtle and brilliant way. Judy Taylor, my mentor at Sheridan Media, was the Sheridan WYO Rodeo parade chair. Without fail, after every parade, she would have people call and complain about the parade. She would listen patiently and then she would sweetly say, “Those are such good ideas. Why don’t you volunteer to be on the parade committee next year?” Inevitably, the call would end quickly and there would be no new volunteers.
Thus, I am very careful if I complain about local or statewide politics. I vote and feel strongly that everyone should vote. Otherwise, they have absolutely no right to whine.
It takes a special person to run for office and survive the onslaught if they’re fortunate (?) enough to be elected. I don’t have what it takes. I’m not diplomatic enough, my skin is too thin, and I’m prone to cry if people are mean to me. Moreover, I’m awful at remembering people’s names, which is the kiss of death in politics.
The Center for a Vital Community’s mission statement is engaging citizens to strengthen our community. There are many ways to be engaged whether it’s volunteering, taking a position on a board or commission or running for office. I’ve decided to go with the first two and leave the third to rock stars like our new county commissioner and my friend, Christi Haswell.
There’s always work to do in strengthening our community. How will you get engaged? I’ll get you a light-up tiara if you do!
Amy Albrecht is the executive director of Center for a Vital Community.