Romer: Local elections help define community direction
In odd-year elections, voter turnout often falls even though the ballot questions affect our lives more directly than who serves in Congress or the White House. National elections tend to dominate the news cycle, but local elections tend to impact our daily lives.
Local elections have consequences and as responsible voters, we should take the time to understand the issues and candidates running for local offices from our towns to our school board to our local special districts.
Harvard Business Review provides a good overview of local elections when they say “Apathy and low turnout should not continue to define local elections. Although the media and general civics education play a large role in fueling this lack of democratic participation, the causes are not as important as the steps that individuals can take to have their voice heard. Individuals can research candidates and their stances on issues, and then proceed to vote based on the information that they have learned. There are ways to stay civically engaged in local politics even beyond voting.”
To this, I enthusiastically say “yes!” Our local elections help define the direction of our community and we have several local elections this fall: town council elections in Eagle, Red Cliff, and Vail; a recall election in Avon; Eagle County School District board; and special districts including EagleVail, Colorado Mountain College, and others. Depending on your residency, your fall ballot may also include a sales tax increase to fund workforce housing (Vail) or special district mill levy questions.
There are many questions informed citizens should ask as election season starts to ramp up after Labor Day and as November creeps upon us. Some questions and considerations that an informed voter might take into consideration:
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
Are candidates for office responding with generosity and compassion and attempting to lead our communities and districts in ways that benefit everyone or are they running on a single issue or catering to a special interest?
Is your town council doing enough to help businesses and people recover from the pandemic? Our business community remains stressed due to workforce shortages and a lack of housing. Are candidates doing enough to help address housing and early childhood and transit and other community challenges or are they searching for excuses to support the status quo? Are they articulating a vision for the future or are they just shrugging and stuck, listening to the vocal minority and finding reasons to not be engaged with solving problems?
Are school board candidates doing everything reasonably possible to ensure our children received the tools and instruction they needed to thrive with in-person learning? Are they acting with good intent or are they posturing and pontificating about national politics rather than focusing on the needs of our local students and teachers?
Are your special districts responding to the needs of their constituents through good governance and providing essential services while looking ahead at the needs of their service region into the future? Do they understand their essential role within the larger community, or are they fighting to protect the past?
You may register (or check your status) online at GoVoteColorado.gov, Even if you did not vote in the last election, you may still be registered and eligible to vote.
Thank you to all candidates for putting themselves out there to run for office and as responsible voters, please pay attention to the candidates and what they say. Leadership has never been more important and leadership matters.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at VailValleyPartnership.com.