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Moving past campaign rhetoric

Summit Daily News Editorial Board

So, we’ve been through another contentious and heated election in Summit County. The story ended with the current Silverthorne mayor retaining his position.

The runoff race for Silverthorne mayor overshadowed mill levy increase proposals for the Red, White and Blue Fire District (RWB) and the Snake River Fire District. Copper Mountain residents were asked to raise taxes for the metro district general fund.

All three ballot questions passed.

The mayoral runoff election also dominated our news pages and local meetings, taking the spotlight away from an election for the board members of the RWB fire district board and an election for board members of the Copper Mountain Metro Board. And, oh yes, only 10 votes separated a question to eliminate district board term limits in the RWB district.

It didn’t pass.

It was hard to compete against the mayoral runoff election between Mayor Lou DelPiccolo and Councilwoman Sheila Groneman. Our opinion pages overflowed with letters in support of each candidate. Election signs lined the streets in Silverthorne. Advertisements were numerous in local publications.

The campaign even saw one sign carried by a Silverthorne resident that showed DelPiccolo’s face with a slash across it. We can only surmise the person was brandishing the sign in protest of the mayor. By the way, it was during a public meeting about the Silver Mountain Village project, which conveniently took place just five days before the runoff election.

It’s all in good, clean fun – right?

One positive note in the Silverthorne mayoral runoff election is the increased number of people who voted this time around versus the April 2 election – when all this “runoff” election business started. About 100 more people were interested enough in Silverthorne’s future to cast a vote.

This is the point when the local newspaper congratulates each candidate for his or her hard work and dedication to community service.

This is the point when the local newspaper encourages candidates to get back into consensus mode, shake hands and resume leading the town into the future.

This is the point when we all become friends again.

Bygones be bygones – let’s let the democracy begin!

If only real life was that simple.

DelPiccolo won the election by garnering 57 percent of residents’ votes; Groneman received 43 percent. Only 100 votes separated the two candidates.

That’s a small margin by any standard – especially in a small town, whose residents and neighbors shop at the same stores, take their kids to the same library and sit together at church.

Now is the time, more than ever, for each candidate to practice being politically savvy.

For DelPiccolo, that means letting campaign rhetoric subside. That means finding more appropriate times to discuss campaign disagreements with his opponent than during a town council meeting. That means listening to some voter criticism that he has a rough edge and should work on his diplomacy.

For Groneman, being politically savvy means she should continue to voice her opinion on critical town issues. It also means that if she has a personal or professional disagreement with the mayor, an open dialogue is more appropriate than a tongue-lashing in a newspaper.

But, for both candidates, it means serving the public.

The tension and angst that overshadowed this election, by both candidates and their supporters, will in time diminish.

What won’t diminish are the decisions these candidates make for the future of their town. That is how this election story should end – or more importantly – continue.


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