Our responsibility, and yours
The last sprint to Election Day, Nov. 5, is just beginning. The commissioner and state representative candidates went at it Monday night, in their first and only candidate forum. Nearly 100 people turned out in the audience, a good turnout by smalltown democratic standards.
Tuesday, the even dozen candidates for the Avon Town Council jostled – too many for answers of depth or even length. They also attracted a good crowd, a full house in the chamber hall.
And in the coming days, the Daily will continue with its millennial habit of recommending candidates and positions on issues. Not all of them, but starting locally, with commissioners, the Avon Town Council, a spate of tax questions and then working out to state representative, U.S. representative, through regional and statewide initiatives, and on up to governor and senator, we’ll make recommendations on what seems particularly relevant in Eagle County.
For candidates, we talk with the field specifically in the context of endorsement interviews. We understand this is quite unlike our big brothers in the Front Range, the Post, which has made at least one recommendation already without bothering to talk with at least one candidate, Heather Lemon, who is running against Carl Miller for state House, representing Eagle County among others.
Our rule with candidate endorsements is simple: We make a full effort to interview each before going to the length of suggesting who might best serve. Yes, it can be an exhausting process, and we’ll admit a certain amount of cheering when a field of candidates falls shorter than a dozen.
What follows is a mantra, since the notion of a newspaper “telling” people who to vote for is one that can rankle. We’ll assuredly receive calls, most often from a spouse or another true believer about our failure to pick the right candidate or side of an issue, or attacking our gall in suggesting a position. It comes with the territory, and we’re not put off by this criticism. Instead, we welcome it; the caller often displays that they have given a fair amount of thought to their position, while they filet ours – meaning, of course, they went to the trouble of studying and thinking. Bravo!
Not all papers endorse positions or candidates, on the grounds it’s not their position to tell people how to think on such matters.
Others, including this one, believe it’s a responsibility to share our opinion, speaking from our unique vantage, and owing to the importance of candidates and issues on all of our daily lives.
Elections, or other public decisions, don’t suffer for discussion in a democracy. Endorsements tend to nudge the discussion about election questions along, whether the people having the discussion agree with a paper’s viewpoint or not.
Whether you agree with a position is really secondary. Our aim isn’t for you to think like us, but to think more about your position, armed with a bit more insight. We don’t take our recommendations lightly. But we recognize ours is one view, taken from the vantage as the most consistent outside observers of local government outside the rare political junkie. We think the insights gleaned from this sideline seat are worthy of offering, and more importantly, becoming part of a larger discussion that also is all too rare.
You see, the biggest problem in American politics is not money, potty mouth candidates, partisan zealots (though they are tiring), supposed corruption among office holders, which is far more TV fare than fact, incidentally.
The biggest problem with American politics is apathy, lack of attention, the incredible ability among the populace to ignore issues that mean a great deal to their daily lives.
One prominent local example is the Village at Avon, now under construction. Sadly, only now are the letters and other expressions of outrage and wonderment uttered.
This project was about a decade in the planning, with no lack of open houses, hearings and other opportunities for input. But it wasn’t until the bull dozers arrived that the real squawking began. That’s the Town Council’s problem? An attentive constituency might have made a difference. Perhaps in the future, this lesson firmly in mind, the people will learn to pay attention sooner. Perhaps not.
Let us note right here a special affection for the candidates brave enough, caring enough and committed enough to perform the highest level of civic responsibility in an age that getting even a simple majority of eligible voters off their duffs to bother voting is considered a major accomplishment.
Make no mistake. The big problem isn’t with the people willing to serve. If you don’t participate in the civic life of your community, you see the big problem every time you look in a mirror.