I was thinking about public service Monday night. From the third row of the Spokane City Council meeting, as citizens shared their views during the open forum on everything from riding the bus to the new world order, a mind can wander. Earlier, Fire Chief Bobby Williams had asked us to keep the victims of our state's fires in our prayers — along with the many men and women fighting the fires. Lots of those are volunteer firefighters; some were fighting to save their own homes.

Then, one of the Park Board members testifying about Riverfront Park mentioned how his board runs entirely on volunteers. I have seen how much time they put in. Mayor David Condon presented his plans for a Streets and Parks Bond to Council President Ben Stuckart, and I was struck by how young they all are. We've had a wave of new energy roll through our city. It's a breath of fresh air. They were also getting things done.

Careful readers know I haven't always agreed with what's been decided around here, and some of our leaders' individual political perspectives seem crazy to me, but during that meeting, I just felt grateful that so strong a spirit of public service is alive here.

Here on the eve of the primary election, we profile Al French, who, I would argue, has become our most powerful local leader, so he has earned a closer look. I'm sure some of you will think we're being too hard on him; others will think we're letting him off easy. Somewhere in between, that's what we're shooting for — kind of like a civic referee.

We recognize the responsibility to get it right and fair; in fact, some still blame our "Invisible Mayor" cover story for Mary Verner's defeat. People remember that headline, and we do try to put some punch into our newspaper, but beyond the headline, that story, I think, represented reality just about right. So read the whole story this week, not just the headline, and you'll learn about the local issues we all face. Hopefully you'll be inspired to participate in our local version of democracy.

Really, we share plenty of common ground. No matter who the volunteer or elected official, they all start from the same place: They want to serve. They want to help, to be a part of the future. Even former government-basher Mike Fagan is up there on the City Council now, working hard to make our lives better.

So as another election season unfolds, make room for some admiration for any and everyone who puts him or herself out there to make this a better place. ♦

American Inheritance: Unpacking World War II @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through May 23
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About The Author

Ted S. McGregor Jr.

Ted S. McGregor, Jr. grew up in Spokane and attended Gonzaga Prep high school and the University of the Washington. While studying for his Master's in journalism at the University of Missouri, he completed a professional project on starting a weekly newspaper in Spokane. In 1993, he turned that project into reality...