Ever ask yourself why we’re not a top-tier resort? We have a great ski mountain and a wonderfully unique, truly Western community. Heck, we even have a curse that makes people come back. So why? Add in a pinch of sometimes wacky local government dysfunction and all the “whys” would be great fodder for a MBA thesis, but it boils down to two things: leadership and vision.
We have a plethora of government and quasi-governmental agencies, authorities, associations and self-interest groups all plying their individual agendas without any commonly developed, shared vision for the future of the Yampa Valley. Let’s just “toot off” in a whole bunch of different uncoordinated directions and do our own thing. What a great recipe for success.
Who are the leaders in the valley who are speaking out in a clear, objective and unequivocal voice about what is needed to make us a more successful resort destination, about building the infrastructure for our emerging location-neutral business economy, or helping mountain management understand that we are co-equal partners in a mutually dependent symbiotic relationship?
We are governed by a committee where no one takes any individual responsibility. Council said this, the committee said that. It’s all diffused accountability gobbledygook where council members can shirk leadership responsibility and say, “Oh, it’s not me, it’s them.” For goodness sakes, “them” is you!
No one can tell me that there aren’t individuals in our community with the intellectual acumen and pragmatic skills to exert strong effective leadership and simultaneously develop the wellspring for success, a shared vision for the future of the valley, and individuals who can also effectively advocate for us outside the boundaries of the valley.
Unfortunately, our current system of government (council/city manager) by its very nature prohibits the emergence of strong leadership. It fosters the deflection of responsibility to the collective — the “them” — and doesn’t legitimatize individual leadership. The solution is to provide a sanctioned platform for the emergence of that much-needed leadership. That platform is a mayor. We should change our charter to a strong mayoral form of government. We’ll still have a council, but we will provide an opportunity for our community to elect a strong visionary leader and then be able to hold that individual responsible for our governance without the option of deferring to “them.”