Get a grip, Gypsum
A measly 150 people – 8 percent of registered voters – turned out for the Gypsum municipal election last week. How embarrassing.
Part of the problem was a dearth of candidates. Only four people sought three seats. Three were incumbents. The fourth, Chris Estes, had served on the council from the early to mid-1990s. That Estes was chosen by more than 120 of the 150 voters seems to indicate those who voted wanted some change on the board.
But change is impossible without candidates. The fact that only four people put themselves on the line as candidates reflects even more poorly on Gypsum residents than the poor voter turnout. Re-elected council member Gary Lebo said Tuesday night that just two days before the deadline to turn in nominating petitions, only two candidates had signed up. Town officials were looking at the very real prospect of having to appoint someone to the third council seat.
Gypsum’s council does a pretty good job most of the time. But over the past five years, the council has become embroiled in a couple of heated disputes – one over its approval of the Chatfield Corners subdivision, another a lawsuit over a lighted ballfield just outside the back door of two town residents.
The Chatfield issue required a special election in which the council’s decision was backed by a large majority of voters. In the second, perhaps the council’s biggest fiasco in at least a decade, the town recently reached an out-of-court settlement with the ballfield neighbors at a cost to taxpayers of more than $570,000.
So where are the residents who want to hold the council accountable?
Gypsum is a commuter town, pure and simple, and probably always will struggle with issues of community due to the nature of the population and the fact the town has no real, physical center. But those who want change have to work for it, and that means anyone who wants the town run differently will have to accept the inconvenience of public service.
Someone has to step up for democracy to work as it could, and should.