Newman: A vote for values | AspenTimes.com

Newman: A vote for values

George Newman

Ballots are out. Decision time is here. Our future lies in the balance. This is a critical time for our state and our country. This election is less about the candidates' personalities and more about their values and the impact their decisions will have on us locally, regionally and nationally.

Pitkin County policies reflect the values of our residents. Unfortunately, they are not the norm; nevertheless, their influence reaches beyond our borders. Our residents have continued to support legislation that serves those in need and recognizes the importance of our environment — an approach that provides a strong economy while protecting our fauna and flora for generations to come. We should ask for and expect no less from our state and national legislators.

Pitkin County voters continue to support the Healthy Community Fund, providing grants to more than 70 local nonprofit organizations, addressing the needs of our citizens. Whereas funding is going away on a national level for everything from health and human services to the environment and the arts, Pitkin County stands strong in recognizing these are values we hold dear. We believe this is an obligation that government should have.

Pitkin County voters recognize the importance of clean air and clean water, reflected in legislation granting us our Healthy Rivers and Streams Fund Program. There are those running for office who do not share these same values and will attempt to repeal current national Clean Air and Clean Water acts or state legislation regarding energy and water conservation.

Pitkin County voters understand the importance of addressing climate change for our environment and our economy. We tackled transportation, the single largest contributor to carbon dioxide emissions in our valley, with the creation of the second largest public transit system in the state (Roaring Fork Transportation Authority) and the first rural bus-rapid-transit system in the nation. This highly successful program was supported by Sen. Mark Udall, and recognized by Sen. Michael Bennet and Gov. John Hickenlooper, yet received no support from U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton.

Residents throughout the Roaring Fork Valley recognize the importance of an energy program that moves toward renewables and away from fossil fuels. Local, state and national representatives agree there are some special and unique places, such as Thompson Divide, that should be protected from oil and gas development. Udall and Hickenlooper supported Bennet's Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act; Tipton did not.

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On a world level, even the secretary general of the United Nations and the CEO of the World Bank are working collaboratively to address climate change. Yet, even today with all the scientific and factual affirmation that climate change is a reality, there are candidates running for public office from our state who won't accept these facts and certainly won't work toward legislation that will address climate change. The outcome of this election will either continue us along on our progressive course or change the direction of our state and nation for many years to come. Educational opportunities, alternative energy, our environment and our economy are the issues at stake, to say nothing about women's personal health choices and equal compensation. Are you willing to accept the tea party candidates' approach to these issues? They do not align with our stated values here in Pitkin County.

Yes, we are a small county in terms of registered voters, but we can make up the difference with a strong voter turnout. It's not too late to register to vote. I strongly urge all those who have resided in Colorado for at least 22 days prior to the election to register to vote — and for all those who are registered to vote to do so! Up to eight days prior to the election, you may apply through the Colorado secretary of state's online system at http://www.pitkinvotes.org or even register the day of at the Pitkin County Clerk's Office or one of the other voter service and polling centers in the county (Snowmass Village and Emma).

Young and old — and especially those in the 20 to 40 age group — this will be a critical election that will have direct ramifications for the quality of our life here in Pitkin County and the issues that will impact your future. Keep Sen. Mark Udall, Gov. John Hickenlooper and State Rep. Millie Hamner in office. And vote for state Senate candidate Kerry Donovan and U.S. House candidate Abel Tapia, all of whom are aligned with Pitkin County values.

Values do matter, and your vote will make a difference.

George Newman is the Pitkin County commissioner for District 5.