As they say, consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.
Newspaper endorsements presume a deep knowledge about local issues on the part of a newspaper. They also presume some separation between a newspaper’s newsgathering operation and its editorialists. To be brutally honest about it, The Watch is just too small to do the kind of work it would take to properly endorse candidates for all of the offices throughout our circulation area all of the time. We therefore often follow the “make up your own mind” policy of election endorsements.
But here, now, I would like to personally endorse Stu Fraser for a new term as Telluride mayor. In this case, I feel confident that I have the understanding of the issues, and the familiarity with the candidates, to make the call.
There is one real curiosity about this race in that both of Fraser’s opponents have agreed that the Telluride Town Council has functioned extraordinarily well the past two years, during especially challenging times. Of course, these candidates, David Oyster and Chris Myers, have both served on council during this time, so they are in effect assigning themselves the good grade. But the fact is that Fraser has been the mayor during this time, setting the council agenda and running meetings. And he’s done it really well.
Above all, a Telluride mayor is charged with allowing voices with sometimes sharply differing points of view to be heard at the same time he or she keeps the council moving forward. Over the years that I’ve observed Telluride councils, some mayors have been better at this than others. Fraser is at the top of the list for accomplishing it well.
So the question becomes pretty simple: If the Telluride council is not broke, why fix it?
It is also true in a small town that any candidate for office will have friends and neighbors who will chose to vote for him or her, which makes running for local office something of a popularity contest. This is surely true of Oyster, Myers and Fraser, all of whom have shown a lot of dedication to the community, and have a lot of friends, and so a vote for any of them can be easily defended.
But on the issues, these three men sound almost identical. They have not criticized each other in public on matters of substance. In what may be the sharpest distinction any candidate has drawn, Myers has argued that as mayor, he would allow for more public comment and longer debates than Fraser does. It’s not that Fraser silences anyone, but he does politely enforce rules of participation at council meetings, including the length of time people are permitted to speak, which to me is one of his strengths. (Yes, Stu, if I go on too long, please cut me off!) What I hear Myers saying is he would encourage a far less orderly process. Having observed previous mayors follow that vox populi approach to local government, I say, “thanks, but no thanks.”
Basically, Myers and Oyster can’t have it both ways. They can’t praise the town’s governance of the last two years and at the same time argue for a change at the top.
So this one is pretty easy: Fraser for mayor.
A follow up observation: If Fraser wins, as I hope he will, that means Myers remains on council and Oyster is off, due to the length of their council terms. That leaves two open seats. If incumbent Thom Carnevale wins his bid for a second term, then there will be only one new face on the next town council. If the voters agree with the proposition that the town government is not in need of a major fix, they have the option of keeping it pretty much the same. There are some good options among the six candidates to be that new face. Being an inconsistent endorser, here I will refrain from publicizing my choice.