Opinion | Bruce Butler: Thank you for the support
I want to thank the community members who have reached out to me over the past two weeks and encouraged me to consider running again for Summit County commissioner. The encouragement has been affirming, but my purpose for writing these biweekly columns in the Summit Daily remains unchanged. I believe in a healthy and respectful exchange of ideas, and I am concerned about what seems to be ever-more politically charged and polarized camps where the free and open exchange of ideas is subordinated to deplatforming, personal attacks, baseless accusations and political vengeance. This is not healthy for our families, community or republic.
As I have previously written, I do not think county-level elected offices should be partisan. Our town elections are nonpartisan. There are three county commissioners. The Board of County Commissioners is not a bicameral legislature. There is no Speaker of the House. There are no standing committees. There is no need for partisan leadership or division, depending upon your perspective. The goal should be what works best for the community.
I continue to be a staunch proponent of local government because its actions are most closely tied to the public that it governs. I believe shopping in the same supermarket, having children in the same school or being members of the same church or service organization makes most local elected officials more even-handed and accountable to citizens because they must all continue to function as neighbors once the votes have been cast. Most people will accept an outcome they don’t prefer so long as they believe the process was open and fair and they were treated with respect. Constituents become more nameless and faceless numbers as government gets bigger.
Similarly, there is no need for a partisan county coroner, surveyor, clerk, sheriff, treasurer, assessor and so forth. What most people want are the best-qualified, ethical and responsible people to fulfill these roles to the best of their ability. I am not suggesting that party-backed candidates cannot meet these criteria; I am simply saying there is no reason why candidates for these offices should not stand on their own personal qualifications and merit outside of the political machine. Regardless, at this time and for the foreseeable future, county elected officials will be party nominated, will run under a party affiliation, and when they step down, as County Commissioner Josh Blanchard just did, their political party central committee will appoint the replacement. In Summit County, that is the Democrat Party, and they will appoint a registered Democrat for the position. As an independent, it was never my thought to be considered.
Colorado voters supported changes to the political party primary election process a few years ago. Unaffiliated voters can vote in either the Democrat or Republican primary within an election cycle. However, they cannot vote in both Democrat and Republican primaries in the same election. They must choose one or the other. This does weaken political parties to some degree, so at some point could “the way we’ve always done it” be changed? Maybe. By its very nature, representative government is supposed to be responsive to changing culture, times and circumstances. If enough voters demand a change, it could happen, but there are entrenched interests who will oppose it.
So, once again, the Summit Democrat Central Committee will meet later this week and internally select a replacement in District 3, which has redistricted since the last general election. I hope the person they select has a strong connection to the community, understands the importance of the office, thinks strategically about the future of our county, is wary of the collateral consequences of various policies and regulations, treats taxpayers’ money like they would spend their own and will place the county’s interests above their own ambitions. It is a serious job that you pay good money for. If we are truly still a purple county, the appointee should be a serious and qualified candidate as opposed to the latest salvo in the advancement of far-left social causes. We’ll see what the Summit Democrats decide to do.
I wish our new county commissioner well. It is in our best interests to have him or her succeed for the overall benefit of our community.
Bruce Butler's column "Common Sense Conversations" publishes biweekly on Tuesdays in the Summit Daily News. Butler is a former mayor and council member in Silverthorne, where he has lived for 20 years. Contact him at email@example.com.
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