Our View: Democracy doesn’t exist without the people who are willing to run | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Democracy doesn’t exist without the people who are willing to run

Empty ballots are missed opportunities, and a race of any kind is meaningless without contestants in it. That’s why we want to applaud all the candidates who’ve entered the ring for election in 2022 so far. If you really want change in your community, local government is probably the best place to start. Government bodies and local officials craft policies that ripple throughout the community for generations, and many of the people vying to represent us today will make decisions that have a lasting impact on us later.

Just look around Routt County today, and you’ll see some of the decisions made years or decades ago at play. We talk about housing a lot, but it is only one of the issues that needs to be addressed. Public safety, land-use planning, development, recreation, transit and the local business environment — there’s no shortage of work ahead, and we hope there won’t be a shortage of people who step up to do it.

Looking at the cost-to-benefit ratio, it can be hard to imagine why someone would want to get into public service. The private sector usually provides higher pay, shorter hours and easier interactions with the public. In fact, many of our elected officials do it for little to no pay at all. Hard choices and public ridicule are around almost every corner, and putting yourself out there in the public sphere takes courage.

But it’s that courage that gives voters have options to pick from, and there is no substitute for a robust lineup of candidates who are deeply invested in our success.

To make a good candidate, someone doesn’t need to have lived here their entire life, but they should to be committed to our future. Institutional knowledge, government know-how and a historical reference are all strong qualities in leadership, but fresh ideas and new energy can be amazing catalysts in the community, too. We think a healthy democracy thrives on all these qualities, and that is more likely to happen with good competition in the election.

Most importantly, we want to see public officials who are engaged in the community and prepared to do the hard work that comes with it. The best public servants are those who do their research and commit themselves to finding solutions. They’re not someone who just shows up and votes. The most productive elected officials can lose a vote, come back to the discussion and contribute to the mission, even if they disagree with the direction that’s been chosen by the group.

To their core, a good candidate needs to embrace what it means to be a public servant and exemplify the fortitude necessary for this kind of work. While they might not see financial rewards, being a part of the decision-making process, having a hand in trying to better your community, is a reward in itself and one of the best and most admirable ways to get involved. It’s tricky because we want candidates who try to represent the whole, but we also want people who are true to themselves and their beliefs.

Without endorsing any candidates, we want to tip our hats to everyone who’s entered a race so far. It’s nice to see candidates who’ve previously served in other roles and are looking to take new leadership positions. It’s also great to see new faces who are making their first run at public office. Whether a candidate is an incumbent or newcomer, a longtime local or new to the scene, their presence in the public discourse only serves to strengthen our democracy.

At a glance

At issue: Routt County’s ballot is filling up for the 2022 election with a number of candidates declaring their candidacies in the last few weeks.

Our View: The more people who run for public office, the better we are as a community. A robust ballot only leads to stronger representation and better government.

Editorial Board

• Bonnie Stewart, publisher

• Eli Pace, editor

• Cuyler Meade, assistant editor

• Ana Gomez, community representative

• Kelly McElfish, community representative

Contact the Editorial Board at 970-871-4221 or epace@SteamboatPilot.com.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.



See more