Romer: Special district elections impact your quality of life
Special districts are typically formed to provide a specific service or set of services, such as water, sewage, parks and recreation, or fire protection, to a specific geographic area. Local special district elections can have a significant impact on the day-to-day lives of residents in any community — and here in the Eagle River Valley, we have numerous elections this spring.
These districts are typically governed by a board of directors or other elected officials who are responsible for making decisions regarding the district’s budget, policies and services. The officials elected to these positions can have a significant impact on the quality and accessibility of these services, as well as the cost to residents.
Local special district elections are important to a community as they impact our quality of life at a local level. National and state issues tend to drive emotional responses, but local special districts impact our lives daily.
Special districts are representative of their community. Local special districts are created to provide specific services, such as water and sewage management, fire protection or parks and recreation. These districts are run by boards of directors or trustees who are elected by the community they serve. The people who are elected to these positions are responsible for making decisions that directly affect the quality of life of the community.
Special districts provide accountability. Elections provide a way for the community to hold the board members of the special district accountable for their decisions and governance. If the community is not satisfied with the decisions made by the board, they can vote to replace them with new members who will better represent their interests.
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Board members must be fiscally responsible. Local special districts are funded by taxes and fees collected from the community. The board members must be fiscally responsible and use the resources of the district wisely. Elections provide a way for the community to choose board members who are committed to responsible management of the district’s resources and fulfillment of their mission.
For example, if a district is responsible for providing water to a particular area, the elected officials could determine the quality of that water, the frequency of maintenance on water infrastructure, and the price residents pay for their water usage. Similarly, if a district is responsible for providing fire protection services, the elected officials could determine the level of staffing and training for firefighters, the amount of equipment available, and the response times to emergency calls. Board members should be stewards of the organization and should not bring an individual agenda to the board table.
Numerous special districts in our community are having elections on May 2. These include (but are likely not limited to) the EagleVail Metro District, Edwards Metro District, Mountain Recreation, Eagle River Water & Sanitation District, and Eagle County Health Services District (paramedic services). What is somewhat unique about many of these elections is a ballot may not be automatically mailed, rather you may have to request a ballot be mailed to you or you can vote in person on May 2. Voter turnout for special district elections is typically very low and every vote counts.
Local special district elections matter to a community; they provide a way to participate in the decision-making process of the district, hold board members accountable, ensure responsible management of district resources, and shape the future of their community. Please take the time to vote in these May elections.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at VailValleyPartnership.com.