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In your editorial last week, “The bus needs new drivers,” you refer to an “older generation” who should “find wisdom and step aside.” I heartily agree on the knowing- when-to-step-aside part, especially in town government where the problem is far more pronounced and damaging. But age has nothing to do with it. Some people are forward thinking and acting, and some are not. It’s not old people, it’s the old “school” that hurts us.
In fairness, at some point even effective leaders simply run out of ideas and the energy to lead. After that, unless they make room and encourage new leadership and ideas, they just take up space. That’s what we have now, people occupying and guarding key leadership positions, who do not lead. They randomly filter, block and control, but do not lead. This is not a criticism. It is a recognition of our current condition. We should assume that they served us well at some point. They deserve our respect. But not if they persist.
We have already seen the next wave of leadership stepping up. Dave Schanzenbaker and Clint Alley on town council, Christine Funk, June Marquez, Tim and Laura Moore, Muriel Eason, Jerry Smith, JR Ford, Commissioner Whiting and many, many others who are taking on problems and projects, from unaccountable governments, to renewable energy, to arts, to tourism, with courage and persistence. Often they do so in the face of open hostility and not-so-open, old-school back-room nonsense from Team Status Quo.
In most of these cases, operating outside the status quo is the only way to success. Launching anything new is hard enough. Should we have to get to success in spite of “leadership?” Of the millions of dollars in projects that have come to Pagosa (Bootjack, etc.), nearly the only project that has made it through (with massive town support) is the economic bottom-feeder Wal-Mart, two years late and at a huge cost to community unity. Delays, heartache and uncertainty are all avoidable with modern leadership.
Each new person who steps forward gives more people the permission and courage to also step forward.