The little blue booklet looks so modest and so unassuming.
It is anything but. What you hold in your hand is a powerhouse of Montgomery County and City of Crawfordsville governance. This little 25-page booklet is a “hive mind” for public information: it lists every elected officeholder and those who have been appointed to serve the public as members of boards and commissions in our county. It gives locations and phone numbers for all government services, boards and commissions.
Do you have a question for one of your school board members? (All the names and numbers for each school district are listed.) Maybe you want to know about a ditch in your neighborhood (call the drainage board.) Maybe you have a question for the Alcoholic Beverage Board or for our Convention and Visitors Commission. (Look on page 7.)
Daily our major news outlets barrage us with issues about our state and national governments — usually with what’s going wrong. The stories often lean toward what a political party thinks about x, y and z. This tendency will only become more intense as we approach election year, 2024. Such “them versus us” thought processes regarding policies that shape our lives can be harmful. If we see public issues as an ID/Purdue game where we choose sides and root for a winner, we all lose. Easy-to-make black/white contrasts tend to make us forget the invaluable underpinnings of democracy that we all depend on daily, namely that many voices deserve to be heard, that compromise among political positions is achievable, and is to be sought. As a country, we have been working on that process for almost 250 years now.
How does easy derailing into political camps affect our lives here? And, what does this little blue book have to do with addressing it?
Nowhere is our democratic process more visible to us than at the county level. “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is taking place for you right now in Montgomery County whether you are a citizen, a resident or a new immigrant. The work of democracy that makes this possible is overwhelmingly peaceably pursued day by day: your police and sheriffs departments are on the alert, roads are repaired, people (mostly) stop at stop signs; you can call the animal shelter to report your lost dog. In election years, a whole bunch of your neighbors volunteer to make sure we can all vote safely at our vote centers. You can take a yoga class at Park and Rec. We take for granted that these practices will go on. The pieces it takes to make this well-oiled democratic machine operate even at the county level can boggle the mind .... But, fear not, have a guide.
Open the LWVMC Government Directory, 2023-24 soon. Pick one up at your public library, your public school, your township office, your police station, the airport you get the idea. Directories are being distributed during the next two weeks. This little booklet is your reminder that in Montgomery County we are deeply engaged in democracy in action.
Here’s a bit of our government directory by the numbers: our county has 11 townships and 10 small towns along with county seat, Crawfordsville. Montgomery County and the city have 32 active governance boards (pp. 6-14). You can learn who serves on each and their contact information, when their terms expire. Learn where each board meets and how frequently. Remember, in a democracy like ours all of these meetings are open to the public by law (IC 15-14-1.5). This is the Open Door Law. Maybe you would like to serve on one of these boards? In a democracy all have a voice and many need to be active and help govern.
Officials and citizens alike count on the LWVMC Government Directory to keep our network of government/citizen connections clean and strong. They routinely give the directory high praise. “I’m really pleased with the colored maps at the back of the directory showing our new Indiana State Senate and House Districts,” said a local citizen. “This is so helpful.”
(Montgomery County was redistricted after the 2020 Census, so all of us need good visual information like this.) See pages 23-24.
“It is beyond valuable to have this resource,” notes a city employee who has lived and worked in other counties. “We are so grateful to have this quick reference. We use it nearly every day at work. Most counties don’t have such a valuable tool.”
A Crawfordsville City Councilman stopped at a table in a downtown Crawfordsville coffee shop where a LWVMC members was scribbling out notes for this column. He exclaimed, “Oh, wow! The 2023-2024 League Directory is out! May I have this copy?” (She gave it to him.)
The “little blue book” is the result of lots of volunteer hours by LWVMC members spent compiling, checking and readying text for printing. LWVMC Government Directory, 2023-24’s coordinating team was Sylvine Marabotto (chair), Myra Dunn Abbott and Elizabeth Zuk. If you see them around town, thank them for their active citizen work. If you can’t readily find a copy after July 1, contact the LWVMC via our Facebook page or our website (lwvmontcoin.org). The costs of the LWVMC Government Directory, 2023-24 were paid for by donations to LWVMC’s Education Fund.
The League of Women Voters, a non-partisan, multi-issue organization encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase public understanding of major policy issues and influences public policy through education and advocacy. All men and women are invited to join the LWV where hands-on work to safeguard democracy leads to civic improvement. For information, visit the website www.lwvmontcoin.org or the League of Women Voters of Montgomery County, IN Facebook page.