The choice for District 2 County Commissioner isn’t as simple as I wish it would be.
I’m not writing this commentary to try to influence the outcome of this race nor do I possess such hubris as to presume I can influence anyone’s vote. I am writing this because my fear of political retribution is outweighed by my belief that we all have to be fearless in exposing truth, even if it’s not very pretty, because it serves a greater good.
It should have been easy for me to vote for Jerry Mallett. For the most part, his heart is in the right place, he’s in tune with the issues of the day and he has shown he can make good things happen. To many of my favorite people, Mallett is a beacon of light on a largely dim local political landscape. Unfortunately, at an intensely personal level, he has shown me a decidedly dark side.
Illegal? No. Unethical? Maybe. It’s not worth dredging up the transcripts because more relevant is the bigger lesson of this past year. It has become crystal clear we need to set the bar still higher for our elected officials. They must be more transparent, accountable and maybe even humble.
Beyond interpersonal interactions, this is important because I believe that whether you call yourself a newcomer or an old-timer, a Republican or Democrat, artist, rancher, retailer, rafter or retiree – when it comes to the core issues, there is more common ground that unites than divides us. But if we – and the leaders we elect – can’t quit wallowing in the mudpit of a partisan present and begin to chart a unified path to the future, we may wake up one day and collectively vomit at the sprawl that obscures our mountain views and degrades our lifestyle, schools that aren’t setting our kids up for success in college and beyond, and a community we can no longer recognize or afford to live in.
Insist that our leaders quit talking in vagaries and articulate specific action steps, milestones and key performance indicators to ensure a future of clean air and water, magnificent views of the mountains and ranchlands, a more self-sustaining local economy, young minds thriving under the tutelage of extraordinary teachers, and a preservation of the lifestyle we all cherish in this sweetly unpretentious valley.
We must demand that our leaders demonstrate the courage and willingness to seek out new ideas, expertise and planning tools.
To prevent against cronyism, create, publicize and adhere to policies and procedures to ensure fair and cost effective hiring, purchasing and procurement policies.
To increase efficiency in creating, storing and retrieving the reams of documents the county processes daily, we have to modernize county administrative functions and take a page from the playbook of neighboring counties who have discovered the Internet provides opportunities for greater information sharing, transparency and accountability.
We must demand respectful consideration from our elected officials, even when our viewpoints are at odds.
More than anything, we need to demand that our elected leaders have the integrity to make the right decisions not just the politically safe ones.
Get out and vote, then pay attention and get involved!