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Vote local, it matters

A conversation with a friend this week took a familiar turn: there is nothing you can do to make an impact on government and on government processes that you believe have gone off the mark. Things will not change.

There is some truth to this, but it applies only at a certain level of political activity.

First: things will change, even with “Big Government.” Take as little as a fly-by glance at history for confirmation.

Second: While you might grow despondent concerning the slim chance you will have your way with “Big Government” or that you will successfully impose your interpretation of the Constitution on the population at large, there is one arena in which an individual voter makes a difference — the local level, where action with an immediate result can still occur.

Two important elections are looming for voters in Pagosa Country and everyone eligible to cast ballots in either or both should do so.

The first is Tuesday’s election in Pagosa Springs to determine whether the Home Rule Charter will be changed to make a vote of the people mandatory for proposed amenities on Reservoir Hill to be built.

Our opinion concerning the Reservoir Hill proposals was expressed long ago, with a thumbs-down on nearly all. We doubt the claim that these amenities would be quality or productive economic additions to the community. Since the issue heated up, and particularly since a petition was successfully circulated to put the question on the ballot, the exchange of opinions, pro and con, has been constant, and revealing.

But, we, like many joining the conversation, are not eligible to vote. Only registered voters living within town limits are eligible. It is their hill. It is their council (at least the majority of members) they will rebuff or affirm. It is their decision whether or not to take direct control via referendum and pass judgment on the effectiveness of their elected representatives and the town administration.

We are not sure what the voters in town will decide. What we are sure of is that voters must turn out. This vote is critical; its effect on the future of town government and the downtown area should not be downplayed.

A ballot will be sent to members to customers of the La Plata Electric Cooperative tomorrow.

This vote, too, is important. There are issues at hand regarding the environment, and the responsibilities of rural power suppliers that balance progress with cost, that LPEA board members will deal with.

Currently, a debate is taking place in the state Legislature concerning requirements for use of alternative energy sources by rural power cooperatives. A Senate bill introduced late in the session has brought the matter to the front, with considerations of cost being paramount for many legislators and their constituents. At the same time, there is increasing awareness, in the industry and among consumers, of the need to expand energy production by cleaner means.

Lindon Stewart and Mark Garcia are contending for a seat on the LPEA board representing District 1 — Archuleta County. Stewart, an incumbent with an engineering background, was appointed to the board a year and a half ago. Garcia is a former Pagosa Springs Town Manager and a mechanical engineer. The winner of the election will have to deal with the above problems, with rising costs and the relationship of LPEA with the generating company, among others. These matters are important as we consider the future of Pagosa Country, and a vote should be cast thoughtfully when choosing between two qualified candidates.   Karl Isberg

This story was posted on April 18, 2013.