Meg Bentley: The other side

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As the March 9 vote on Referendum A — the annexation of Steamboat 700 — approaches, there are people out there who believe in the public vote. And there are people out there who say, “We elected our City Council members. We wanted our elected officials to decide this issue.” It is to the second group that I address my remarks.

City Council hired the best annexation lawyer in the state to guide us through the annexation process. That lawyer said ours was the tightest annexation agreement he has ever crafted. The seven of us examined, compared and questioned details in thousands of pages of information. We, too, had wanted a 7-0 vote on Oct. 13. However, what happened that night was a perfect example of representative government. Having sorted through all the evidence and having listened to our constituents, each of the seven of us voted for what he or she believed in. It was a 4-3 decision. That split vote is, in itself, an indication of the continued complexity and conflict surrounding the issue. This has become very much like a civil war right here in our own community.

So, to the naysayers who openly criticize council’s split vote on whether to annex or not to annex Steamboat 700, I say, “Go ahead and recall each of us. Or, at least, vote us out of office in November 2011.” But as you take out that recall petition, I would respectfully suggest that you also consider taking out a petition to run for City Council yourself. Our local government cannot run on criticism alone. Please take personal steps, judiciously, pro-actively and positively, to guide the way our community grows based on your own beliefs.

And on March 9, when the votes have been counted, I very much do not want to hear or read about any grousing. However the vote goes, it will be the decision of the majority. And in our great country, majority rules. Our individual responsibility will then be to work actively together as a community to make the absolute best of the post-vote situation. If we remain divided and belligerent, we will all lose what we are so passionately arguing for.

Meg Bentley

Steamboat Springs City Council member

Comments

Scott Ford 4 years, 9 months ago

Well said Meg.
I was there that evening when you, Steve and Cari voted NO. All three of you had legitimate concerns and each you clearly voiced them. All of you were voting your conscience as representatives of the citizens of Steamboat Springs. The 4 to 3 split vote coming from a group of elected officials that had studied the issues carefully for a couple of years is enough that should cause all of us to pause. Pause to at least evaluate the provisions contained in the SB700 annexation. Provisions that caused three elected representatives who knew what they were doing and take their responsibilities seriously to vote NO.

It was for this reason that I became a proponent of having the SB700 Annexation put to a vote. The Steamboat Springs' city charter provides for its citizens to exercise this right. It is an important check-n-balance in our system. How you, Cari or for that matter any active member of City Council votes as individuals on SB700 is a private matter. It is none of my businesses and I prefer not knowing.

I am all for representative government within the context of most issues faced by City Council. However, an issue of this magnitude and more important its legacy that will span the terms of dozens of City Council members deserves the public evaluation a vote results in. Having the citizenry evaluate the SB700 Annexation on its merits and vote is the right thing to do.

Both of us have lived here long enough to understand how an issue can tug at the fabric of our community to the point of tearing it. I echo your sentiment that regardless of the outcome of the vote, "Our individual responsibility will then be to work actively together as a community to make the absolute best of the post-vote situation. If we remain divided and belligerent, we will all lose what we are so passionately arguing for."

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