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Letter: Citizen participation in local government is encouraging
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The Times’ Sunday editorial spoke about an issue that is near and dear to my heart: citizen involvement in local government. More people need to do this in Hall County, its local cities and municipalities. This is where we have the best opportunity to participate in our democracy.

The Comprehensive Plan Update was the latest opportunity to participate in the future of Hall County. Elected representatives and administrations will use those results as a road map for deciding on major issues in Hall County by using the ‘public’s’ viewpoint on many issues. You can see the results of this survey at  www.hallcounty.org/906/Hall-County-Comprehensive-Plan-Update.

By not participating in the survey, you have given them the green light to make decisions on your behalf. While the results of the survey are nonbinding, it fulfills the opportunity we citizens have to speak up.

Whether a landfill, factory or whatever is proposed near your neighborhood, you have allowed those plans to be initiated and possibly acted upon. In other words, you missed a grand opportunity to tell them what you want Hall County to look like in the next 20 and more years.

I have found the answer to “why do they do some of the things they do” can be found by asking a government employee, making a phone call, a visit to them or speaking to your elected representative. Being routed to the right person can sometimes take some extra effort and get frustrating, but persevere. What I have always found is they are good listeners. They respect your opinion and input.

I have learned there are probably many reasons things are done the way they are. Rules, regulations and laws often complicate the issue or project. They have to comply with those and sometimes might not agree with them themselves, but they must follow those requirements. Sometimes your eyes and ears can bring to their attention a need for something that was not known to them.

The Golden Rule should be afforded all of our elected representatives and government employees. We should respect them. Would you go that extra mile to help someone if you were not treated respectfully?

They know they work for you the citizen. They get it. You wouldn’t talk disrespectful to your mama if you wanted something from her, would you?

The issues involving Martin Road, Mincey Marble and Straight Street Homes have shown the interest and influence citizens have. My challenge to them is will you stay as involved with your government after your issue is resolved.

Growth in Hall County cannot be stopped. Do you want that growth to be controlled in an orderly manner or do you want it to be uncontrolled? Don’t wait until it affects you and then speak up. Be proactive.

I want to leave this world a better place for my children, their children and many generations to come. I hope you do, too. God bless all of us.

Wayne Stradley
Gainesville

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