THE ISSUE: Strategic planning input sessions are approaching quickly.

OUR OPINION: Please participate.

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“The future belongs to those who show up.”

That was how county commissioner Holly Davis headlined her recent Chronicle column about the upcoming county strategic planning input sessions. She’s absolutely right. She’s asking citizens to attend one of the Saturday input sessions, either Oct. 16 or 23, to contribute their thoughts. It’s sort of like voting: if you don’t vote, you shouldn’t complain about who gets elected. But in this case, “voting” means contributing your opinion directly.

County government is committing to a strategic planning process to help determine Citrus County’s future direction, and needs lively citizen input to indicate what that direction should be. Your opinion can help shape our shared future.

Citrus County has already been shaped in part due to the volunteer efforts of many hundreds of residents involved with the Citrus 20/20 vision, plans and projects. Its successor, Citrus 2030, had just formed when the pandemic halted progress. Both were volunteer, citizen-led efforts.

Now, however, Citrus County government is committed to developing a codified strategic plan and vision for what we want to look like in our future and that of our children. Through upcoming input sessions, residents will identify what they value in our community, what they want to see protected, and what needs to be improved.

After the input sessions, the real work begins. As humorist and author Will Rogers famously said, “Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."

To propel us along, county decision-makers must be vigilant about referencing the shared and codified vision that emerges from these sessions. The plan will identify what really matters to residents; it should be the primary guide in decision-making.

Government has a major role, but so do citizens. It’s critically important to participate in the process, stay in touch with results, then do your part to make it happen. We can’t predict the future, but we can invent it. Let’s hold each other responsible for doing so.