Consider facts when voting in Silverthorne |

Consider facts when voting in Silverthorne

Summit Daily News Editorial Board

The race for Silverthorne mayor has heightened interest in small-town government and, at the very least, put the “mud” in mudslinging.

But, despite the backbiting, verbal clawing and exaggerated accusations in this campaign, it’s pertinent to fight through the smoke and see this election for what it is – a decision about change.

Voters are asked either to retain their current mayor or choose a successor, who happens to be a council member.

Consider the campaign thus far.

Councilmember Sheila Groneman has distanced herself from the current mayor, stating that while they both want what’s best for the town, she is a different kind of leader. Groneman says she’s better at listening, helping to reach a consensus, encouraging empowerment and has a desire to make decisions “everyone can live with.”

This is a tall order, even for the best of mediators. While we agree this is a noble and refreshing approach to leadership, sometimes it isn’t a reality, let alone an efficient means of making tough governmental decisions.

We have to wonder if this type of leadership can slow down the decision-making process.

Groneman believes there are options to maintain or increase the town’s revenue sources other than approving the annexation of Silver Mountain Village. She is concerned about the increased traffic on Hwy. 9 and the commercial core of the project, including Safeway. She’s skeptical that one project like this can solve all the town’s problems, without creating new ones, too.

Critics say Groneman is a no-growth candidate, but she has supported Willowbrook Highlands, The Ponds, Target and Retreat on the Blue.

As for Mayor Lou DelPiccolo, he’s staying away from comparing himself to his opponent. He believes his past accomplishments speak more about his leadership style than does a campaign slogan. Though, he does admit his straightforward attitude has peeved some people along the way.

DelPiccolo says he understands the importance of public input in the decision-making process. He also believes in the talent and dedication of town staff. He has said his role as mayor is to make summary assessments and then help guide the council’s decisions and reach a council consensus. And that may mean while residents get a chance to be heard, the council’s decision may not always coincide with all residents’ and neighbors’ beliefs.

DelPiccolo has made it clear he supports the annexation of Silver Mountain Village. He says the only way the town can effectively manage growth in areas like this is to accept the commercial core part of the project – it pays for itself and other town services he believes will be desperately needed.

The facts:

n Many people have said they don’t want to see that area change. Voters must understand the land eventually will be developed. It will not remain open space. It isn’t open space now. It will not be designated open space unless a private entity or the town buys it and dedicates it as such. And, that will not happen unless the town wins the Powerball lottery.

n Some portions of this property already are within town limits. The town has modified its comprehensive master plan to consider commercial development in the area of the Elk’s Lodge. Staff members consider that piece of land infill, waiting to be designated for development.

n Critics of the development have said the school district is dragging its feet, waiting on the town to decide on annexation so the district can obtain the new elementary school site for free.

But, why is that a bad thing? As Summit County taxpayers, shouldn’t we want the school district to obtain free land versus buying land? Silverthorne voters should want that, too.

n In Silverthorne, the mayor casts the deciding vote on split council decisions. As it stands now, whether Groneman or DelPiccolo is chosen as mayor, it appears the council will be split 3-3 on the Silver Mountain Village issue. That final decision is key to Silverthorne’s future.

Leadership style and the annexation of Silver Mountain Village have dominated the election discussions. But, when the campaign rhetoric subsides, Silverthorne residents must consider which candidate best fits the role of mayor.

Voters should ask themselves if their lives have improved under the leadership of the current mayor. Voters should ask themselves if a new face in the mayor’s seat would better represent their viewpoint.

But, more importantly, voters have to decide how they will manage change in Silverthorne. Every demographic study says growth is going to happen. Voters have to decide who they believe is the best leader to help guide that inevitable growth.

Voting to close our eyes and pretend we can preserve the town the way it is now, is a vote for putting our heads in the sand and playing dead. It’s not proactive, it’s reactive.

Summit Daily Editorial Board

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