Since I have been away for several months, I thought I ought to make it clear that I was nominated by the Green Party of Colorado and I will be running as the incumbent for a fourth term as San Miguel County Commissioner this November.
I want you to know that I consider this position neither a job nor a career. Writing has been and will continue to be my life’s focus, as it has been for the past 50 years. But, for me working as your representative on the board of county commissioners is my opportunity for public service – just like the year I spent as a Vista volunteer on the Crow reservation in Montana back in the Sixties. I suppose I never got over my idealism from back then, and continue to take Pres. John F. Kennedy’s words to heart, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
I’ve found that I love being paid to be the people’s representative in the halls of government and in those formal meeting rooms where laws get made and local decisions are hammered out. It is righteous work, and it gives me a chance to use my long knowledge of this place (including its history, which I have studied at some length), as well as my communication skills, in service of the people of this county, its more-than-human inhabitants – both plant and animal, and the earth itself.
Although I’ve identified with counter-cultural values most of my life, I also find I hold very traditional values of honor, duty and responsibility. These are the same values that led me to go to the aid of my father in his last days and serve him as his sole hospice caretaker, until he made his passing. I like to think that I don’t just talk these values, but I walk my talk.
I think our county got rid of term limits because citizens here realized, in a small county, finding someone good to take on the duties, trust and burdens of public service, whether as sheriff or clerk or county commissioner, shouldn’t be ruled by artificial caps on length of service. If someone does a good job, we re-elect them. If they don’t, we don’t.
I look upon elections as a kind of report card. If things are going well and you’re doing a good job, the voters vote you back in. If things are not going well and you’ve done a questionable job, voters vote you out. That’s why, in a democracy, I think it’s good to have challengers and to be forced to have a public debate about the state of the county today and the vision one has for the future.
Personally, I think the county is in good financial shape, is strong on promoting economic wealth and protecting environmental health, has worked towards increasing workforce housing, has a decent if underfunded public transportation system, has addressed both loss of ag lands and preservation of open space with its purchase of development rights program, and has maintained a good level of county services, from well-maintained roads and bridges, to responsive building reviews, to top-notch professional planning, to model environmental health efforts, to new parks, expanded fairground facilities and an elegantly remodeled county courthouse.
I believe it would be a mistake to seek change merely for the sake of change in this county, no matter how much change is vitally needed at the national level. I think the current board of county commissioners has been doing an excellent job, both in working on local issues in the county and taking on state and national issues in those larger forums that have so much affect on our daily lives.
As a member of the Green Party, I hold three key values as personal goals for what I want to achieve in county government – eco-wisdom, social justice and grassroots democracy. I believe those are values that both Democrats and Republicans can support, and I see my minor party role as bridge-builder, balancing the two very different ends of our county, getting rid of rules where they don’t make sense and strengthening regulations where they are necessary for health, safety and community well-being.
It has been an honor and privilege to serve my fellow citizens the past 12 years. I would encourage voters to spend the next couple months fleshing out what each of the candidates stand for, and what kind of record they stand on, in their campaigns.
For me, I’m proud of having served this county and its citizens honorably and effectively for the past three terms. And I ask once again for your vote this November.