Odd-year elections traditionally attract the fewest number of voters, but we hope Routt County residents buck that trend come Nov. 6.
Voters who head to the polling booths on Election Day, or take advantage of increased early voting opportunities, will find a 2007 ballot devoid of national and state-level issues and candidates. But the truth is, local elections and tax initiatives often have much more of an impact on our daily lives.
And this year's ballot is loaded - particularly in Steamboat Springs.
That's why we urge voters to educate themselves about the issues and candidates on the 2007 ballot.
Trying to learn about all 16 Steamboat Springs City Council and School Board candidates as well as the numerous tax initiatives facing voters this year can be a daunting task. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways for residents to inform themselves before they cast their ballots.
The media, voter guides, advertisements and candidate forums all can be useful tools for voters. The Steamboat Pilot & Today and Steamboat tv18 are hosting a candidates' forum at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Centennial Hall. The forum will open with School Board candidates and also will include City Council candidates and representatives for and against a proposed Routt County road tax and a Steamboat Springs recreation center proposal. Steamboat tv18 will rebroadcast the forum at 7 p.m. Thursdays and 10 p.m. Mondays until Election Day.
It's not possible to cover every aspect of every issue in a two-hour forum, but our forum and those hosted by other community groups and organizations provide valuable opportunities for voters to get a personal feel for candidates. Forums also enable challengers a chance to make their case, and give incumbents a chance to defend their work. There are plenty of the former and latter on this year's ballot.
Five of the seven City Council seats are up for election, including the seat held by current council President Susan Dellinger. Incumbents Towny Anderson and Karen Post also are running for re-election. There's an impressive list of challengers and first-time candidates, as well.
Regardless of what voters do on Election Day, we're guaranteed at least two new faces on City Council come mid-November. Former City Manager Paul Hughes and Meg Bentley square off in District 2, and political newcomers Vince Arroyo and Walter Magill are battling for one of the District 3 seats.
Three of the five School Board seats also are up for election. Current board member Jerry Kozatch squares off against Laura Anderson for the District 5 seat. Board member Char Rusk faces Education Fund Board member Robin Crossan for the District 4 seat. Lisa Brown is running uncontested for the District 2 seat currently held by Jeff Troeger.
Steamboat Springs voters will decide on a $34 million recreation center and a tax to fund the ongoing maintenance and operations of the center. Routt County voters will decide on a tax increase to fund, at least in the short term, road improvements. In addition, Hayden and South Routt voters will vote on School Board members, school tax initiatives, a building use tax and other items.
All of our communities are best served when as many people as possible head to the polls on Election Day - or before; early voting starts Oct. 22 - and informed voters are much more likely to cast ballots than those who are confused or not as knowledgeable about the issues. As early voting and Election Day near, we urge you to take the time to learn about the candidates and issues facing our community.