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An open letter to our newly elected officials

Political ads, campaign stunts and election surveys are finished for the time being. Now, it’s time for action.

The residents of Marshall County expect our elected officials at the local, state and national level to work tirelessly on our behalf for the issues that matter most to us. We not only expect our officials to work toward policy on our behalf, but also lead the charge in addressing the social and cultural issues our community faces.

Marshall County is as diverse as could be. Our population is diverse in race, ethnicity, gender and economic status. We have both urban and rural needs. Our population holds many different political viewpoints. Our elected officials have a duty to work on behalf of all of these people, not just the ones they most relate to. We hope that our elected officials will take it upon themselves to gain a better understanding of the constituents they represent that are not like them.

It is the duty of our officials to stand up to injustice. No person or group should face discrimination — at any level — because of their identity. Civility must always be a top priority. Our elected officials should be role models for treating all people with dignity and respect.

The strength of our businesses, institutions and agriculture in part falls on community leaders and community members alike. However, policy must also be set up in a way that helps these organizations or at the very least doesn’t hinder them. People across the political spectrum will argue about the approach to this. But the bottom line is, we need our officials to continuously monitor how policy impacts health care, business, agriculture, education and many other areas that affect quality of life in our community. Doing the right thing should always trump pride if an implemented policy isn’t working.

It is also the duty of our public officials to meet some of our largest challenges head on. Domestic violence, substance abuse, homelessness and mental illnesses gravely affect our community. These are everyday issues, yet they are rarely talked about and there are simply not enough resources. Our elected officials must look at policies, government resources and grant money to address these issues.

Last, but certainly not least, our community is part of an ongoing uphill climb to recover from the July 19 tornado. Our representatives must continue in recovery efforts, especially for the residents and businesses that remain uncertain about their futures.

The role of an elected official is much more than spending taxpayer dollars in the best manner, but it’s about protecting and improving the quality of life in our community.