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John Colson: A lost opportunity we may soon regret

John Colson
Hit & Run

The 2020 election certainly gave us a lot to think about, the least of which is in contemplation of those races where the winners made it to office by the slimmest of margins.

For brevity’s sake, and in the interest of local political awareness, we will confine this discussion mainly to Western Colorado races, and to candidates rather than issues.

Up first is Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, where a political newcomer, Republican Lauren Boebert of Rifle (who unexpectedly toppled incumbent Scott Tipton from his long tenure on the job in the Republican primary) also managed to fend off longtime public servant Diane Mitsch Bush by a margin of roughly 6%.

Boebert won with 51.4% of the vote to Mitsch Bush’s 45.2%, in one of 76 congressional (Senate and house) contests that were decided by less than 10% of the total, according to the Balletopedia website.

Interestingly, in my view, is the fact that Boebert lost in her back yard of Garfield County, where Mitsch Bush pulled in 15,531 votes against Boebert’s 13,756, or approximately 51% to 45% of the county’s votes.

In Pitkin County, not unexpectedly, Mitsch Bush garnered a much wider win, 8,614 to 2,790, or approximately 74% to Boebert’s roughly 24% (Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by a similar spread in the county’s presidential results). In Eagle County, which includes a sliver of the Roaring Fork Valley, voters preferred Mitsch Bush by 12,633 to Boebert’s 7,761, a margin of 60% to 37%.

The county commissioner races in the Roaring Fork Valley’s two main counties, Pitkin and Garfield, were a study in contrasts.

In Pitkin County, incumbent Steve Child pulled in more than 7,400 votes against challenger Chris Council’s 2,945, a margin of roughly 72% to about 28%. Additionally, newcomer Francie Jacober logged a similar tally against longtime political gadfly Jeffrey Evans, racking up 7,603 to Evans’ 2,895, a margin of 72% to 28%.

In Garfield County, though, incumbent county commissioners John Martin (District 2) and Mike Samson (District 3) both squeaked by against strong challenges by Beatriz Soto and Leslie Robinson, respectively. Martin racked up 14,718 votes to Soto’s 14,217, while Samson garnered 15,394 (52%) to Robinson’s 14,401 (48%).

It appears that independent candidate Brian Bark, who attracted 1,315 votes in Garfield County’s District 2 face-off, played the role of spoiler, as his portion of the final vote tally might have given Robinson the edge to unseat Martin, an outcome that many Carbondale and Glenwood Springs voters were hoping for.

But, in the end, our local counties opted to, by and large, stick with the politicians they knew (incumbents, that is) rather than bring new blood into our local governments, which followed the same trends observed nationwide in terms of many of the downballot races.

In the big race at the top of the nation’s ballots, of course, voters chose to throw out the Republican incumbent president, a guy by the name of Donald Trump, and put in his place a longtime Democrat known as Joe Biden, but once again by the narrowest of margins.

What does it all mean?

Well, your guess would be as good as mine.

In general, though, I view this election as an opportunity wasted by our electorate.

We have a lot of problems in this country, which will not be well-served by leaving, say, Trumpist Republicans in charge of the U.S. Senate and with a slight boost in their numbers in the U.S. House of Representatives, and I suspect we will come to regret the outcome of the 2020 election.

I believe that also is true of at least one level of local government — Garfield County.

The two incumbents have shown themselves to be far too beholden to the oil and gas industry that has, over the past couple of decades, made their jobs a lot easier by pumping tax revenue into the county coffers at a rate unknown since the days of the oil shale boom of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Unfortunately for the industry, and for Garfield County, the boom has faded somewhat, thanks to a variety of factors, and the big-money days may be a thing of the past for Garfield County.

One is justified in asking, then, as Soto and Robinson did, why it is that the county is paying out vast sums of money to help the industry fend off regulatory and legislative efforts to ensure that the industry is not simply laying waste to our environment in a no-win, doomed adherence to a technology that is both polluting the planet and getting in the way of new, more environmentally sensitive and sustainable technologies.

One also can be forgiven for wondering what a seemingly poorly educated businesswoman (Boebert), whose main claim to fame is that she runs a restaurant where the help all carry guns, will do when she actually has to do her job in our national legislature. Will she be as lost as President Trump was when he moved into the White House? And how will she perform when her idol, Trump, is not in the White House any more?

My guess is that too many voters are perhaps infected by the “magical thinking” that we can somehow turn the clock back to a mythical time when, to put it simply and bluntly, coal and oil were king, white and entitled men were in charge of everything, the only people suffering from the status-quo were the poor communities of color and women, and the world was America’s oyster.

Email at jbcolson51@gmail.com.


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