Vail Valley Partnership CEO: Dear candidates: Please focus on issues, not grandstanding (column)
July 5, 2018
Dear Candidate(s): I don't know each of you, but the first thing you need to know is that you are extremely well liked by almost everyone I meet.
People on both sides of the aisle say you're bright, grounded, decent and a leader. They believe you will be a good public servant.
These folks know and respect you. By all accounts, you are polite and knowledgeable. There are a lot of people rooting for you.
Personally, I'm glad that we have folks like you on both sides of the aisle who are willing and able to serve and represent Eagle County.
I will note, however, some think you are making a terrible mistake if you fall into the polarizing partisan trap currently enveloping the nation.
The election process is underway; primary elections are over — and most all of you ran unopposed. The general election — over the next four months — is when a pragmatic, common-sense, problem-solving approach would serve you best.
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Common-Sense Problem Solver
Candidates, right now is the time to become a common-sense problem solver.
We can likely agree that there are issues dividing us at a national, state, regional and local level ranging from immigration and transportation to health care and housing. Please avoid the partisan talking points and instead focus on finding meaningful solutions to these issues.
For as great as these topics might be to your partisan base, it will be near impossible to win an election in Eagle County by focusing on the murky, shark-infested waters of partisan politics. Registration numbers from the Colorado's secretary of state show unaffiliated voters (12,643) greatly outnumber registered Democrats (8,761) and registered Republicans (7,453).
So return calls, engage with voters at public forums and elsewhere and make a point to connect. Running to your base — on either side — can lead to alienating two-thirds of the voting public. And for what? Talking to the echo chamber? We have enough of the echo chamber in our national media and television outlets.
Is this a big deal? Not, perhaps, in the grand scheme of your career. But in the here and now, a pragmatic, solution-driven approach to Eagle County's challenges would be helpful and refreshing. Running a clean, issue-focused campaign will help counter any false narratives or negative story lines that arise. We can be an example for the country.
I am confident a solutions-oriented approach will resonate with voters. I think we're tired of talking, tired of meeting, tired of waiting for Washington D.C. to solve our problems.
Thoughtful, localized, bipartisan approaches to housing policy; health care solutions, rural broadband, air service development and economic development might not be a true test of intelligence or political acumen. It is, however, a measure of how well you prepare and engage.
Above all, a pragmatic, solution-oriented policy plan — at least a good one — would empower you, and at no time is that more important than now, amid the gossip and information warfare that dominates the national political conversation.
I look forward to listening to and discussing your thoughts and plans, and let me tell you, there are a lot of invested citizens across the political spectrum looking to aggressively and relentlessly help address our challenges. It is incumbent we work together to make Eagle County a better place to live and work.
Think of it this way, candidates: What is the risk of focusing on solutions and avoiding mudslinging? In the end, there's no substitute for a thoughtful, solution oriented campaign platform.
Good luck, all. Thank you.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at http://www.vailvalleypartnership.com.