Dear Editor:

I have read with interest a recent letter complaining about perceived dysfunction in Pagosa and a fine reply made by our former mayor Ross Aragon. It is a matter I recently had an excellent chance to assess, during a recent lively debate and vote over a proposed potentially disastrous plan to burden the town with a huge potential debt and an unviable project that was promoted by a small interest group without consideration for the greater impact on our community.

Each community has its own history and its own special development. Pagosa has been favored to have outstanding citizens of a number of ethnic backgrounds from its earliest days, including many who were from the original Hispanic settlers in this area many years ago.

Over all of the years of its history Pagosa has shown strength, courage, fortitude and neighborliness as outstanding aspects of its residents. We do our best for each other and for our town. Among those who have worked hardest and longest are those who have served like Ross on the town and county boards and councils. They have stood by their duty through winter, summer, good times and hard times. They are the ones who I trust.

In the recent situation I just mentioned, some clear-sighted individuals approached our town and county officials and aired their concerns. They found that they were listened to, and their concerns not only analyzed but studied with care and a mind to what was best for all of us. And then those same officials, Ross among them, took careful and reasoned steps to deal with the situation always respecting the limits of their own authority and the needs of the entire town. At no point was there any so-called dysfunction that I could see. The town newspaper and other media also did the same and the issues were clearly and openly debated, and debated from all points of views was allowed, supported and moderated with dignity and care.

My concern was, and is and will be that small interest groups try to cajole, connive and coerce our town and county to fall for various schemes, and ventures and I hope and pray we continue to have the same careful, kind and courageous leadership as we enjoyed under Ross Aragon, Clifford Lucero and all of the others who came before them. I can think of no stronger and more absolute rebuttal of recent letters of negative intent against either the town or county officials individually or as labeled by ethnicity than the truth of the record which is there for any to study and to appreciate.

The greatest danger of easy and slanted use of such derogatory definitions of “people” and fellow citizens and human beings by their class, or type is that it makes people become used to it and indifferent to the harm it does to personal dignity and character. I will never allow or support such abuse, and yet I see it being not only allowed but supported by the federal government and the national media to win power, control over voting blocks and to sell air time. Here in Pagosa we do things differently and I think in my own humble view, much more better. It is my hope we can continue and I want to thank those who have made this the way most of us live and share here in our fine town. If this is dysfunction, I welcome it and hope for more.

Chris Gerlach

This story was posted on June 26, 2014.