People Make Our Towns

On Nov. 5 townsfolk get a voice with their ballots

By Mike Jopek

All the signs are there. The rain is cold. The days are shorter. The morning ground is frozen or frosty. The community cider press has come and gone. A lot of people joined together to press apples and share stories.

It’s been a cold fall. Winter feels close. All the ski-talk around town evolves around a notion that it’s going to be an epic snow year. Even the Farmer’s Almanac, that old-time weather predictor, agrees we should prepare. I’d take more fall.

Not much luck in trying to predict chaotic weather. It’s cold and the Tamarack needles turned yellow. At the farm leaves are arriving from around town, waiting to mulch open fields.

The same week as the cider press, I again attended the Whitefish Community Foundation’s Great Fish Campaign to watch in awe as 53 nonprofits from around the Flathead collected nearly $3 million from generous people.

What a bighearted community we live in. It really is the best. At the annual event, everyday people like you and me gave a lot of money. It’s this kind of kindness that makes our towns great.

You know you love Whitefish. You want to see it do better. You wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else. The same can be said for Columbia Falls and Kalispell. Your hometown is worth fighting for.

It’s not just the cider presses, the nonprofits like the North Valley Food Bank, a loop of open trails, or the great outdoors that keep us living here. It’s also the people, the community.

It’s the friendships with people, the nurses and doctors, the teachers, the downtown service workers who help make our towns those valued places.

Far off on the East Coast, our leaders seem laser-focused on constant political chaos and picking never-ending fights among us. National news seems East Coast centric and doesn’t much get rural life in the pockets of the West.

In small towns like Whitefish, Columbia Falls and Kalispell people lookout for others. We’re rugged and live here because we want to. We collectively help society, individuals, and local businesses prosper. It’s how we do it. We work together in a civil society.

If it doesn’t always feel that way, visit D.C. and, upon return, you’ll be grateful to be home.

If you live in Columbia Falls or Whitefish there is a paper ballot likely sitting on your kitchen table. This is your vote. Fill out the ballot and return it on time to cast a vote. That simple act will make our towns better places.

Likewise Kalispell people can secure their future by voting early or going to the Trade Center at the county fairgrounds on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Call me old-fashioned, I still believe in the goodness of government. That people coming together can make towns and community better places for everyone. Most things we mess up, we can fix, if we work together to make it so.

Voting is like community. We control those common bonds that bind us together as a society. I’m hopeful townspeople vote.

No one alone pressed those thousands of pounds of apples from throughout Whitefish into cider. It took people, lots of people. It took thousands of people to donate nearly $3 million to over 50 nonprofits through the Whitefish Community Foundation.

It will take more than just most of us voting to put our democracy back together. On Nov. 5 townsfolk get a voice with their ballots. Us rural, out-of-city residents must wait until 2020 to cast our vote. Trust me, we’re ready.

For townsfolk, it’s time to decide whom to trust. Who will offer proper leadership through shared values like hard work, honesty, and trust? I think you know the answers. I hope you act on it and vote.

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