By Mayor Shelby Rognstad
Sandpoint is a community characterized by engaged citizenship. With more than 300 registered nonprofits, ours is a community of people who care. This is something to be proud of and celebrate. We are a community characterized by innovation. There are more than 1,000 business licenses in Sandpoint. This speaks to our collective entrepreneurship, independence and can-do attitude. There are numerous companies unique to Sandpoint that have invented products and produced goods that advance their industry and are used all over the world.
Engaged citizenship also shows up in our shared values.
Sandpoint residents value environmental preservation. We choose to live here because we enjoy nature, wildlife, open space and outdoor recreation. We understand that water quality is critical to our collective well-being. That’s why I support a wastewater facility plan that goes above and beyond our permit requirements reducing the amount of pollutant discharge into the river.
Sandpoint residents value a responsive government that protects our human rights.
Through the decades we have repeatedly been threatened by white nationalism and have banded together to protect our region from hate and have driven these movements and their leaders out of our community. I have championed human rights issues, challenging racism and bigotry in North Idaho, and will continue to be a strong voice for social equity and justice. This is one area where we must take a stand and not allow ourselves to be bullied and misrepresented.
Sandpoint residents value quality of life. We look each other in the eye and say “hi” when passing on the sidewalk. As neighbors, we help each other because we recognize that we are in this together. We know that kindness is where quality of life starts. We value arts and culture and a community that supports family and friendship. We value recreation and the freedom to live life as you choose. We value health and safety. We value the contents of our character more than the contents of our pockets.
Together, we stay engaged to ensure quality of life for all residents. When we are not engaged, we literally pay the price. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that Idaho loses $20 million per year in federal dollars because 20% of the Idaho population does not participate in the Census. When we are not engaged our wisdom is lost, our abundance is not realized, our love and joy is replaced with discontent, malaise and scorn.
Now is the time for us to remember our values, to remember that we all care about our community and we want the best for Sandpoint. We all want the best for our children and our grandchildren. We may have different ideas about how to get there, but we all have a piece of the solution.
Now is also the time to stop spreading lies and divisive rhetoric on social media. Misinformation posted online can be propagated without correction or recourse. There are those who intend to do our community harm, who actively use online forums to divide us amongst ourselves for the purpose of destroying our sense of commonality. This division prevents us from solving big problems that require consensus and partnership. This toxic behavior is inappropriate and un-civil and it tears at the social fabric of our community. It threatens our very nation.
That is why it is critical that we come together around our shared values and remind each other of our commonality and our humanity. Let’s remember why we love our community and why we choose to live here.
Please join me at the Mayor’s Roundtable Friday, Oct. 18 at 8 a.m. at Cedar St. Bistro in the Cedar Street Bridge where we discuss our shared values and community engagement.
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