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Multiple positions at the cty and county level will be on the ballot in the May 21 election

Ever thought about running for public office? Now is your chance, but you have eight days to file if you live in Yamhill County.

The deadline to file for special district positions in the election is March 21. Local positions on the ballot for the May 21 election include five seats on the Newberg School District board of directors, four positions in the Dundee Rural Fire Protection District and two at-large positions on the Chehalem Park & Recreation District board of directors.

It costs $10 to file for any of the above positions in this election, and the county needs a SEL 190 form filled out by candidates by 5 p.m. March 21. The form can be found at www.co.yamhill.or.us/sites/default/files/SEL%20190.pdf.

More information on collecting signatures, writing a statement for the voters' pamphlet and other election processes is available at www.co.yamhill.or.us.

Serving a community in capacities such as the ones on this ballot is a special calling, according to county clerk Brian Van Bergen, who encourages citizens of varying backgrounds to apply and try their hand at public service.

Van Bergen said he attended Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson's funeral on March 6 and was moved by the stories of Richardson's life as a public servant.

"Personally, I feel strongly that those of us that can, should serve," he said. "We each have unique talents and can serve in different ways. Not everyone can serve on a school board, not everyone can serve on a fire board, but for those that can, it is a great opportunity to make a difference in our communities."

Van Bergen also noted that a meager 25 percent of people vote in special district elections like the one coming in May. Given the importance of local elections, he said it is the duty of citizens not only to vote more frequently, but to run and serve their communities in ways they haven't before.

He added that that if someone is concerned with how a district is being run, the best way to change that – or make it even better – is to run for office.

"School and community college boards are made up of regular people – your neighbors," Van Bergen said. "They create policy, set goals, establish budgets, guide curriculum and select leadership for the district. In many respects, this handful of people decides how tax dollars are spent within the district. "

Fire and park and recreation district boards are similar to schools in a lot of ways, Van Bergen said, and require a strong commitment to civil service.

Not everyone can handle the daily stresses of serving on a board, he said, especially if they have another job or other aspects of their lives to balance. But if you think you have the time – or even if you have a desire to serve – Van Bergen and the county encourage you to file for any of the positions that will be on the ballot come May 21.

Voting – in Van Bergen's opinion – is the other half of the battle. Updates and information on elections and registering to vote can be found at www.oregonvotes.org.

"We can't all serve on a board, but we can and should all vote," Van Bergen said. "Whether you run for office, assist those running or simply vote for your favorite candidates, it is our civic duty to educate ourselves on the issues and candidates and become engaged."

"But, ultimately, if you are concerned for our community's future and are looking for a way to make a significant difference, please consider serving on a local school, fire or park and rec board."

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