Considering a run for public office? Please read

By Shannon Williamson
Reader Contributor

The city of Sandpoint is one of a kind. I would like to say that we have it all here. That wouldn’t necessarily be true, but we have a whole lot to offer. We have incredible natural resources that provide lots of recreational opportunities. We have a vibrant culture that embraces the arts — from award-winning films at the Panida to undiscovered, yet uniquely talented musical performers. 

Shannon Williamson.

Most importantly, we have a community of people that is quick to lend a hand to those in need, either through their own sweat equity, by providing resources and connections, or just being there to lend an ear. 

I’m not here to convince you that everything is all sunshine and roses. Sandpoint has its challenges, for sure. Lack of affordable housing stock — for sale or rent — is real. Replacing and repairing aging infrastructure, such as our wastewater treatment plant and streets, is expensive. Providing opportunities to land a good paying job is challenging. 

Over the last few years, the current City Council has worked hard at identifying our strengths and challenges through the strategic planning process, and we now have well-informed and agreed upon priorities that will make us a more proactive governing body. 

We are in the middle of multiple master planning efforts from parks and recreation, water, arts and culture, transportation and our comprehensive plan. The city wants to provide a unified community vision for our future and effectively manage the change and growth that is coming to ensure it aligns with that vision. We want and need your help.

So, what’s my story? I first ran for City Council in 2013. I’m now midway through my second four-year term as your City Council president. I was still relatively new to the community when first elected, having moved to Sandpoint in 2011 to be closer to family. I was (and am) a single mom with a 3- and 6-year-old at the time. My kids’ wellbeing was and is my single highest priority, and if I was going to raise them in the Sandpoint community, I wanted to help make it the best it could be. Not just for my family, but my friends and neighbors as well.

Every council member brings a unique passion and skill set to the table, and we need that. I am passionate about clean water and I’m oddly educated in wastewater microbiology. What are you passionate about? What are you really good at? What kind of changes do you want to see for Sandpoint, and what are your ideas around how to make that happen? There are three City Council seats and the mayor up for election this year. I encourage every city resident who is invested in Sandpoint’s future to consider running for an elected position.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can make an impact in our city as an elected official and what that entails, you can: The city is holding a workshop on this very topic on Wednesday, Sept. 4 in the Sandpoint City Council chambers at City Hall at 4:30 p.m. We’ll cover a variety of topics that we truly hope will be helpful to anyone considering running for city elected office. Bring your questions — I hope to see you there.

Shannon Williamson, Ph.D., is Sandpoint City Council president and executive director of the Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper.

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