Apparently, you don't need locally contested races to stir interest in an election.
The Democrats failed to field a candidate for any of the local offices in Tuesday's election. Still, thanks to a handful of significant local referendums, early voting totals have been encouraging. The numbers are not as strong as those in a presidential election year, but they are significant when compared to recent gubernatorial elections.
That's good news because while Routt County voters don't have many choices in terms of who their next sheriff, clerk or commissioner will be, they do have a choice on critical tax and infrastructure questions. And when Colorado voters choose their next U.S. senator, they also will play a critical role in deciding which party controls the Senate.
In a democracy, elections are how communities, counties, states and nations chart their futures. And the clichevery vote counts" is true, so make sure to cast yours on Tuesday.
As a guide, the following is a recap of our editorial stances on local issues:
n Judicial Retention: We concur with the 14th Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance's recommendation that Judge Joel Thompson not be retained. Similarly, we concur with the commission's recommendation that Routt County Judge James Garrecht be retained.
n Referendum 3A, Hayden School District tax increase: We believe Hayden residents should approve Referendum 3A, a property tax increase that would raise $154,000 for teacher salaries. Currently, starting salaries for Hayden teachers are lower than any school district in the county and are among the lowest in the state. If Referendum 3A is approved, Hayden would still have the lowest salaries in the county, but they would be more competitive.
n Referendum 2B, Excise Tax on New Development: If approved, Referendum 2B would assess a 1.2 percent excise tax on the construction value of all new development and replace the city's existing impact fee, which is a flat fee assessed on all new development. We don't believe either tax is justified; however, the excise tax is less onerous than an impact fee and we support approval of Referendum 2B.
n Referendum 2C, consolidation of the city and Mount Werner water districts. We applaud the critics of water district consolidation for drawing voters' attention to this important issue. However, our sense is the opposition's concerns about the language in the proposed consolidation agreement are mostly unwarranted. Consolidation is in the best interest of the community and after a decade of discussion, residents finally have the chance to make it happen. Referendum 2C should be approved.
n Referendum 2A, a city property tax to pay for ambulance and fire services. The proposed 5 mill property tax would add $1.9 million to the city's budget that would be used to fund and enhance fire and ambulance services. But this tax isn't really about fire and ambulance services. Rather, the city is trying to create a new revenue stream to build funding for capital projects. We agree with that concept; however, we would like to see the city present voters with a long-term tax strategy. Referendum 2A is simply a short-term fix the city thinks is politically viable now, and we do not support it.