Cartier: Become engaged in politics; our county, state and nation depend upon it (column)
After such a contentious presidential race in 2016, and the continual investigations and rehashing of election fallout, many people are thinking, “Not again.” Midterms often see reduced participation, but in Colorado, we have a gubernatorial slot to be filled, so everyone is gearing up for another six months of hearing partisan talking points and trying to read between the lines.
Skepticism is often valid, as people generally don’t hear from candidates until they need votes and money. Yet, we get what we settle for. Our expectations are so minimal that we are not shocked when that’s all we receive.
In a state where the political spectrum is almost equally divided between Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters, partisan rhetoric has less credibility because even if the candidate received all of his or her party’s votes, then he or she must still gain a sizable number of the unaffiliated or crossover voters. Thus, focus on the issues becomes much more relevant.
“What’s in it for me?” is a common thread among voters, as candidates justify their positions. The candidate must not only be accountable, he or she must also possess a degree of psychic ability, as he or she answers hypothetical questions and tries to please a highly diverse constituency, who often have vastly different needs and expectations. Plus, as they say, there is no free lunch; what benefits one, costs another.
Establishing relevant balance is key to successful leadership. Nearly everyone is willing to pay for those in need, but determining that need can be controversial.
As an example, locally, all would agree there is a shortage of affordable housing, yet who should pay for it? Some say that government should stay out of it because employee sustainability is market-driven. If attracting employees required a housing component, then the employer would include it in the compensation package, either as income or equivalent housing. The finger points most strongly to the county’s largest employer, Vail Resorts.
But, we must also consider the impact on the small, independent business owner, who does not have the financial resources available to a global corporation. If there is a limited number of housing units, and the largest employer’s people use up all of them, then it leaves little available for independent businesses to offer employees.
If these small businesses must pay more to attract workers, then they may not be able to remain in business, thus directly affecting the county’s tax base. So, does money spent on subsidized housing become an investment in increasing receipt of county taxes by supporting local business, or a subsidy to a private corporation? If paid by the county, then isn’t that cost being met by those who can least afford it: the employees and small business owners? However, supporting our area’s largest corporation benefits the people who live off its income-generating base. There are no easy answers, but you want elected officials who will ask the right questions and work at creating innovative solutions.
Supply and demand should dictate business development. However, in rural communities, comprised of small towns with limited income, creating alliances that enhance mutually beneficial objectives is essential — accomplishing more together than either could do independently.
It helps if that entity has authority to oversee developments across town lines and to rectify any discrepancies, conflicts or unexpected events that may impact neighboring towns. Is the county the best entity for that job, and is the money spent to attract development an interference with the free market, or is it an investment in increasing the area’s economic base?
Should the success of an airport be airline market-driven, or does the impact of its failure or success create such a detrimental or beneficial effect on the county that it becomes an investment in sustainability and expansion for the region? At what point should the expense extend beyond the shared airline’s responsibility and why? Should airport renovation be a legitimate expense of the county?
It has been clearly established that the need for mental health programs, personnel and facilities are at a critical stage in the county, and additional resources would be needed to provide essential services. Again, we face the question, who should be responsible for the funding?
Given its complexity, a marijuana tax was proposed and approved, but we must realize that those funds are limited, and the demand is great. Who should pick up the shortfall? Will the voters feel short-changed by the results because everything could not be funded? Are there sufficient existing resources to make up the difference? Who decides?
Issues such as these are a matter of degree and where those lines are drawn is up to you.
While many people proudly claim that they don’t care about politics, many of the local issues truly do have a direct impact on our daily lives, and multiple voices are required to create innovative and sustainable solutions. Become engaged; our county, state and nation depend upon it.
Jacqueline Cartier is a political and corporate consultant in Colorado and Washington, D.C. For further information, visit http://www.cartierwinningimages.com. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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