Fulfill Your Civic Duty at the Local Level

Written By:

Greg Parker, EDA Board Member, Iron Horse Brewery

Everyone has their own introduction to the EDA. I would assume that most introductions come through what I would call the front end; seeing the lighting projects, trash cans, bike racks, flowers etc. and at some point connect the dots that the Ellensburg Downtown Association is responsible for them. That was not my experience.

Dale Meador, who at the time was on the board for the EDA, introduced me to the tax credit program. He’s a pretty good salesman and he was selling a pretty good program. If you don’t know about it, you should ask someone, but it allows you to channel your Washington state business excise taxes to a qualified downtown association. I don’t think you have to give it to your downtown but anything else would be kind of weird, so I gave to the Ellensburg Downtown Association. With a keystroke or 20 I diverted about $10,000 of Iron Horse excise tax from the state coffers directly to the EDA. No-brainer. At the time, while Dale was asking me to give he also asked what I wanted from the EDA as a downtown business operator. In my usual obnoxious, honest and forward manner, I told him ‘outsized influence’. Being the savvy man that he is, he turned my request back on me and suggested that I take a place on the board and if I was savvy, I could get the influence that I was asking for. I fell for it. I think that was about 4 years ago.

What I have found and learned on the board is that I don’t want outsized influence because that would likely put too many crucial decisions in my hands and, frankly, I’m not qualified to be making them. I have also learned that the hard work of making downtown Ellensburg pretty, clean and interesting isn’t glamorous. And while the work isn’t glamorous and seldom recognized as the work of the EDA, it is very worthwhile and worthy of support. In our contemporary times where it can seem hard to find common ground with about half of the population, or in my case even more than half since I love playing devil’s advocate, it has been a fulfilling and rewarding civic pursuit with like-minded individuals that is largely above the partisan fray. I encourage you to fulfill your civic duty at the local level, in whatever way you see fit, you won’t be disappointed and you will be a much better informed citizen, I know I am.