Dear Editor:

The mayor’s letter protesting the original Reservoir Hill ballot measure shows the mayor’s intense fear of losing even a little power, over a little piece, of a small part, of a town park. Now that is fear. Paranoid, yes. Totalitarian, yes. But not completely unfounded.

In essence, 212 electors agreed to ask the question, “Based on their well-documented actions to-date, do ‘We the People’ of Pagosa Springs have confidence that Town Council will act thoughtfully and methodically, and in our best interest, on Reservoir Hill?”

I can see why the mayor, David Mitchem, and Team Status Quo on the council, would be nervous about asking that question. The answer could turn out to be, “No.” That is something they think they cannot risk. They see this as a referendum on their performance as a council.

Given the ease and speed with which the 212 signatures were gathered for the Reservoir Hill ballot measure, and how hard the mayor and council members have worked to derail, or delay, or dilute the question, it is pretty clear that they think they know what the answer might be. The mayor and council are sticking to the old adage that you should never ask a question (or in their case, allow one to be asked) that you don’t already know the answer to, or that the answer might not be what you want to hear.

Ironically, the more they attempt to manipulate this election to protect this small piece of turf from the voters, the more they, themselves, actually make it a referendum on their fitness as “trustees.” Shouldn’t the first prerequisite of being a “trustee” be that you also trust and respect the intelligence of the people you represent?

As with all of us, the mayor and council’s choices at earlier forks in the road have brought them to this one. Those choices have weakened people’s trust in them enough to bring this ballot measure forward. As with all of us, the choices they make now will define them. Those choices will also guide what the voters do next.

This is a big fork in the road for Mayor Aragon and council. One road leads them back toward the openness and real leadership that has slipped away over decades. The other road leads farther away from hope of some day becoming an honest, ethical government, toward less and less trust in them as “trustees” and speeding their inevitable replacement.

Ann M. Bubb

This story was posted on February 14, 2013.