Polk County needs voice in age of term limits

This will be the last legislative session for State Sen. Cliff Trow. State Rep. Lane Shetterly could also be on his way out.

His only chance of remaining in the Legislature is taking over Trow's seat in the Senate. Even then, Shetterly could only serve one term before running once again into term limitations.

No matter how you look at it, his days of representing Polk County in the Legislature are seriously numbered.

This is a scary thing for Polk County. Regardless of how you feel about Shetterly and Trow, they have brought experience and perspective to the Legislature.

Trow, of course, more so than Shetterly.

The Corvallis Democrat has been in the Legislature since 1975. Shetterly has only been serving since 1997. There was a time when Shetterly would still be considered a relative newcomer.

In the age of term limits, however, he amassed enough seniority to be a serious contender for speaker of the House. Instead, he was named chairman of the powerful House Revenue Committee.

That position usually goes to a legislator with formidable clout.

Polk County is lucky to have experience on its side in Salem. However, county residents can't afford to stay fat and happy. That will all change in two years.

No matter who ends up in the Senate and House, they will be freshmen who will have to spend some time finding their legs.

This is not a crusade against term limitations (necessarily). It's a call to service. For Polk County to maintain any kind of pull at the capitol, county residents need to get involved in civic affairs.

Stand Up for Rural Oregon Day is set for Tuesday, Jan. 16 at the Capitol Building Galleria.

The day offers rural Oregonians an opportunity to meet with state legislators and educate theme on the needs of rural Oregon.

The day will begin with registration and coffee at 10 a.m. and will include the Rural Rally Hour from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. and a luncheon forum from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

A lively discussion of rural issues is anticipated. Visits arranged by individual participants to legislators will begin at 1 p.m.

There are also a number of vacancies on local and state boards and commissions where people could give Polk County a strong voice.

For the elected positions, the deadline to file paperwork to be included on the March 13 ballot is 5 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 11. All information and/or fees must be turned in to the county clerk's office, third floor of the courthouse in Dallas. Call County Clerk Linda Dawson at 503-623-9217 for details or stop by the courthouse for details on openings.

An example is the Polk County Commission on Children and Families. There are two to four vacancies on the commission's board.

The Polk County Commission is the county-level branch of the statewide commission. Board members determine what local communities need and give money to community-based programs.

Healthy Start, VORP, Libros y Familias, CASA and Youth for Dallas Skate Park are just a few of the organizations who have received money from the commission.

Commissioners just completed their two-year comprehensive plan identifying four primary goals -- strong, nurturing families, healthy, thriving children, healthy thriving youth and caring communities.

Anyone interested in serving a four-year term on the board can pick up an application packet at the Department of Human Services, Room 318 in the Academy Building or call 503-503-623-9664 for more information.

Volunteers are also needed to serve as members of the Polk County Citizen Review Board.

Volunteers are appointed by the chief justice of the Oregon Supreme Court to review cases and make recommendations to the court and child serving agencies regarding children places in foster care, group homes and residential treatment centers.

Volunteers are asked to make a two year commitment, one day per month. No experience is necessary, just a sincere interest in children, families and the systems designed to serve them.

More information is available by calling Rachel Homan at 503-731-8382.

Other opportunies include:

♦ Polk County Fire District No. 1's budget committee.

More information: 503-383-1510.

♦ Monmouth Library Commission.

More information: 503-838-0722.

The pages of the Itemizer Observer are full of similar opportunities each week. Check them out and consider the possibilities.


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