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Election season returns

Don Rogers

The leaves are turning, the candidates are collecting signatures, the air is growing crisp – and there’s a certain expectancy among those who follow such things with the advent of another election season.

For Vail, no conference centers or property tax hikes are on the ballot this time. Just four seats on the Town Council – a majority.

Thus far, 10 people have taken enough interest in running to pick up nominating petitions, which are due back Friday, Oct. 3, to make their candidacies official.

The school board also has a majority of seats open. Only the downvalley appears to have competition, though, with four strong candidates so far for the seat board President Barb Sheirkolk is giving up. Arguably, the school board has more impact on community life than other municipal entities, given the role, the expenditure, the complexities and the expectations laid on education. Alas, the upvalley typically is drawn more to town politics. Why is a good question.

There will be a handful of ballot questions, as well, none particularly compelling thus far, to be brutally frank about it. Locally, the school district has a measure asking for permission to keep alive a tax for bonds it’s paid off for maintenance, repairs and other incidentals. They’ll need to make a more compelling argument for need, we suspect, than simply pointing out that the tax rate will still drop, though not nearly as much if the tax expired with the natural end of the payments.

Statewide, there’s Referendum A, which aims to provide up to $4 billion in bonds for water projects. The Western Slope is mortified with what nearly everyone who has studied the measure sees as a potential Front Range water grab. A more thoughtful view is that there is not enough protection for western water sources to make this a very good idea. For spice, we have our own Commissioner Tom Stone standing nearly alone in support for the measure.

Then there’s a tourism funding measure that’s mainly a trojan horse for a gaming company to move into the state and set up video lottery machines at race tracks.

What else?

To be brutal, there have been – and will be – more inspiring election seasons.

Oh, Vail will try to whip itself into as much of a frenzy as possible, though it’s a good bet most residents will see through it. A “do nothing” council somehow has the town finally poised at the brink of major renovation, with conference center and genuine step at handling a longstanding affordable housing shortage under way at last, with a completed Donovan Park and pavilion – though that third fire station yet languishes. Go figure. Whoever is elected or re-elected is likely to enjoy being seen as a genius as the national economy recovers more fully and actions taken by the previous council pay off.

Voter participation is likely to be low, though, and that would be too bad. The real problem with municipal level politics is the dearth of interest in issues that really do matter to everyday life. Hey, it would be great to be proven wrong.

But with the presidential election another year off, the trend at the ballot box leans toward a lot less voting this Nov. 4.

You’d think voters would have more interest in the education of our children and future of the headwater town than that.

D.R.


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