A dearth of candidates
One out of every 50 people who live in Red Cliff is running for a seat on the tiny town’s board of trustees. In Eagle-Vail, a more affluent neighborhood, the number of folks interested in running things this year is more like one in a thousand.
Eagle-Vail had to cancel the election for its metro district’s board of directors because only two people showed up to run for two open seats. The same automatic elections have happened – too often – in Eagle, Gypsum and other municipalities in recent years. The school district had to recruit a Vail representative when no one stepped up to run for the open seat a couple of years ago.
By contrast, Red Cliff is rife this year with residents eager to serve – as residents of Vail were in the town’s two elections this past November and January and nine people are competing in Eagle for town board seats. So while this enthusiasm is encouraging – even if some of these candidates don’t quite know what they’re getting into in running for elected office – Eagle-Vail and others show a too large part of the local citizenry is still less than captivated by the art of local governance.
That apathy is hard to pick up from the letters to the editor and Tipsline pages of this paper. Seems like plenty of people are plenty willing to sound off from the relative safety of their PCs and cell-phones. The letters, at least, are signed.
Cynicism aside, it seems there are people out there who’d like to make a difference in local affairs – at least that’s the case in Red Cliff and Eagle this spring. In Eagle-Vail and Gypsum, however, citizens are all too willing to let others make the difference for them.
Still, people in the valley want dog parks, they want the speed limits lowered, they want their children educated well, they want Vail Resorts to do all sorts of things. These people, by filling out campaign papers and making up a few signs, could become intimately involved in these decisions, for themselves as well as for their not-so-motivated neighbors.
In Vail this fall and winter, “ordinary” citizens such as Farrow Hitt and Kim Ruotolo rolled up their sleeves and won seats on their town council. That’s getting involved.
There are, of course, several levels of civic engagement – ranging from the simple letter to the editor to attending town council meetings every once in a while to voting.
But with the at times high volume of complaining in the valley, it would seem that a few more people might find it within themselves to take on the challenge of serving the towns and neighborhoods they so easily belittle.