Our View: Stay calm and carry on
All eyes have been focused on national races over the past week, so it’s easy to forget several unprecedented events that occurred in our own backyard.
Routt County voters turned out in record numbers on Election Day, with 89% of 19,030 registered voters casting ballots. That turnout of 16,938 voters was 17% higher than the 2016 presidential election. And despite those large volumes of ballots, only a tiny percentage of those cast were rejected for falling short of legal requirements.
Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kim Bonner, her staff and the team of dedicated volunteers deserve kudos for fostering and ensuring an uneventful election. The process of accepting, certifying and counting ballots was thorough, efficient and transparent.
Also notable for the first time, Routt County voters elected a person of color to the Routt County Board of Commissioners. Hayden Mayor Tim Redmond will join the three-person board after unseating 20-year incumbent Doug Monger.
Against a backdrop of national political discord and division nationally, we should feel proud and relieved that our local election was respectful and mostly free of the drama so commonplace on social media, cable news networks and partisan news outlets. But we must be sure to exercise continued vigilance to avoid the traps that can unnecessarily feed hateful divisions that undermine the healthy discussion of respectful differences.
At issue: Political uncertainty at the national level can blind us to positives locally.
Our view: As we await congressional election results in several states and the outcome of legal challenges to the presidential vote, we can take positives from our local election to make our community stronger.
Logan Molen, publisher
Lisa Schlichtman, editor
George Danellis, community representative
Kevin Fisher, community representative
Contact the Editorial Board at 970-871-4221 or lschlichtman@SteamboatPilot.com.
We are all well-served to be mindful that we are a community first. And though each of us may hold strongly held views on issues large and small that impact our daily lives, we in the Yampa Valley share a special set of common values that are core to the strength of our community. These are the bonds we should leverage to foster dialogue and cooperation on the often-emotional issues that confront us nationally.
Contrary to anyone’s personal beliefs, it’s clear there are fairly equal numbers of Americans who hold very different perspectives on the direction in which our country should be heading. Voters in the national election did not grant a clear mandate. As such, we should all do our best to accept this fact and work toward a middle ground in order to move our nation forward and effectively tackle issues of common concern.
Here are a few ideas to help each of us drive momentum toward fruitful collaboration:
- Back away from social media posts and partisan cable TV channels and websites whose messages are designed to divide. Likes, ratings and clicks should not be barometers of success when complex issues require thoughtful dialogue and compromise.
- Hold off on writing or sharing incendiary posts or emails. Take a break and reflect before hitting “send” on an angry message just to make sure emotions aren’t getting the better of common sense. And just as importantly, own up to those instances when you might unnecessarily fly off the handle in public forums and learn from those mistakes.
- Have conversations with your neighbors, including those with whom you may differ politically. Start those conversations with an open mind and, instead of just listening, truly seek to understand. Build trust in one another through genuine interest and dialogue instead of trying to “win the war.”
- Refer to authoritative, non-partisan sources for election and political news. These include ballotpedia.org, League of Women Voters, opensecrets.org and The Brennan Center for Justice, to name a few. Review the “Media Bias Ratings” at allsides.com and reflect on where your own favorite sources fit in the political spectrum. Visit sites such as citizensource.com to discover a wide variety of political perspectives on common issues. These forays can isolate so-called “filter bubbles” that can develop when a person gets news or information from just one or two go-to sources.
- Take part in the public process. Participate in public forums, volunteer for civic opportunities and otherwise engage in the activities that can reinforce confidence in our public institutions. Collective government drives effective, responsive and transparent institutions, and captures the diversity of viewpoints that make us stronger.
In short, empower yourself to lead by example. Be better than those who want to wallow in the mud. Take deep breaths, long walks and stock of what’s really important in our lives. Humans have a natural inclination to care for one another, so it’s not a stretch to think we can extend the collective love we have for Steamboat Springs toward finding common paths to overcome any number of tests ahead of us locally, regionally and nationally.
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