By Mike Whittlesey

The success of local government depends upon more than just the handful of elected officials who are sworn in every four years. It’s even more than the dedicated individuals who serve as employees of the City. It’s true the importance of leadership from the mayor’s office and a responsive City Council working on behalf of the citizens they represent cannot be overstated. Equally important are the contributions city employees make each day to deliver essential and recreational services to residents of the City.

The real strength behind city government, though, the force that makes it work (or not work, in some cases) can be summarized in one word: people. When Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins visited Union High School last November, he spoke about the important role people play in a democratic republic form of government. In a true democracy, he explained, every citizen has a direct vote on deciding the laws of the land. In the United States, where the form of government is a republic, the responsibility for making laws is given to representatives chosen by the people. That means actively engaged citizens can make a big difference in how well the governing process plays out.

In La Porte City, there are a number of boards and commissions staffed by volunteer citizens who play an important role in serving the people of the community. It is interesting to note that the membership rosters of these boards (30) more than doubles the number of full-time City employees (13). Clearly, the active participation of La Porte City citizens is an important piece of the local government pie.

Given the voluntary makeup of these local boards and commissions, there are regular vacancies that naturally occur, as members’ terms expire. Currently, the City is looking for members to help fill openings on the Board of Adjustment, Parks and Recreation Commission and the Hawkins Memorial Library Board of Trustees.

If “too busy” or “not qualified” are thoughts that keep you from serving your fellow citizens as a member on one of these volunteer boards, please take a moment to reconsider that notion. When it comes to time, commitment to one monthly meeting is usually all that is required. And with a City staff member serving on each board as a liaison to assist members, caring about your community is the only real qualification needed.

It’s a particularly exciting time to serve on the Hawkins Memorial Library Board of Trustees, as the local library’s service to patrons, wealth of program offerings and circulation of materials continue to rank it near the top of its class among libraries throughout the state.

Additional information about the vacancies on the Board of Adjustment and Parks and Recreation Commission can be found on page online at

For those who choose to serve their fellow citizens on the half-dozen boards and commissions related to La Porte City government, there is a sense of accomplishment knowing they are making the most of an opportunity to make a positive contribution to the community.

Try it. You just may like it.