Our View: Pivotal election warrants strong turnout, informed votes
October 16, 2012
The 2012 general election hits fever pitch in Routt County this week. The second presidential debate was televised nationally Tuesday night; mail ballots will begin arriving in post office boxes; the final major local candidates forum of the campaign season is Thursday; and early voting starts Monday at the Routt County Courthouse Annex.
It may sound cliche, but Routt County voters absolutely will have an impact in races up and down the ballot this year, starting with the presidential contest. Colorado is again a swing state, with President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney polling neck and neck here. Other races are more regional, with voters set to decide the 3rd Congressional District representative for U.S. Congress and which lawmakers will represent Senate District 8 and House District 26 at the state Capitol. Two University of Colorado Board of Regents seats also will be decided Nov. 6.
There are no Steamboat Springs City Council races this cycle, but two of three Routt County Board of Commissioners seats are up for grabs. And for the first time in a seemingly long time, voters have contested races and clear-cut differences between the commissioner candidates on issues like oil and gas development to help guide their choices.
Finally, voters statewide will decide on three constitutional amendments, including one — Amendment 64 — that would legalize limited marijuana possession and use for adults 21 and older.
While the deadline to register to vote has passed, voters still have time to bone up on the issues and candidates. And they should — making informed choices at the ballot box is the most significant way citizens can play a role in our representative democracy. To that end, Wednesday’s issue of the Steamboat Today includes our annual election guide featuring comparisons of the major-party candidates in all statewide, regional and local contested elections. We've also included a rundown of the three statewide ballot questions as well as precinct maps, voting times and dates and polling locations. We encourage you to take some time in reading about the candidates and their stances on issues important to you. Give extra credit to those who aren't afraid to be clear about where they stand.
Undecided about any of the races? For the fifth consecutive year, the Steamboat Pilot & Today, Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors, Routt County Democratic Party and Routt County Republican Party will co-host a moderated candidates forum. This year's forum is from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday in Colorado Mountain College's new auditorium. A meet and greet with the candidates is from 5 to 6 p.m., followed by the moderated portion of the forum from 6 to 8 p.m. Candidates confirmed to attend include Board of Commissioners hopefuls Doug Monger, Tina Kyprios, Jim "Moose" Barrows and Tim Corrigan; House District 26 candidates Diane Mitsch Bush and Chuck McConnell; and Senate District 8 candidates Emily Tracy and Randy Baumgardner.
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In sum, there are no shortage of options for voters to education themselves on the candidates and issue this fall. And from electing the leader of our nation to choosing which residents will be responsible for leading Routt County through economic recovery and the challenges of energy exploration, there are plenty of reasons why voter turnout should be strong.