Letter: However you vote, just vote
October 29, 2015
Dear young people of the Roaring Fork Valley,
When Steven Wickes opened the debate on the Base2 redevelopment during the Aspen Business Luncheon recently, he said, "It's clear this is becoming a proxy vote for larger issues."
The controversial subject has divided the town, and voters will get the final say at the polls Tuesday. But he was right. The Base2 hoopla has snowballed into something much more, the same way the application for the Aspen Power Plant or the redevelopment of the Pitkin County airport have.
These aren't exclusive applications. They are the pivotal decisions for our valley's future. And you know who isn't helping to make them? The generation they will ultimately affect. In our last election, only 312 people younger than 30 voted in Aspen. That's fewer people than a sort-of-well-attended Belly Up concert — and nowhere near close to sold out.
We get it. National politics are behemoth and circus-like. It's hard to feel like you're making a difference. But here in the valley, in small towns such as Aspen, Snowmass, Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, your vote counts. Literally.
There is a perceptible shift in the political conversation in Aspen these days. Increasingly there seems to be an us-versus-them mentality, which unfortunately often pits a younger demographic against an older one. It doesn't have to be this way. The common thread we all share is a passion for this place.
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One of the best ways we've heard people describe Aspen is that "no one is stuck here." Living in the Roaring Fork Valley is a conscious choice that people make daily. When it gets too hard, or things look greener on the other side, people leave. But for those who make it — and it's not always easy — the rewards are great.
We all want the best for Aspen, although we might not always agree on what that is. While some see the issues as divisive, we seem them as an opportunity. (And who thinks town would be as great if people didn't care?) Perhaps much of the angst around our involvement is of our own making. People are hesitant to listen to people who do not participate. Let it be our mission to build trust and find common ground. Let us make the case that we are engaged, trustworthy, reasoned and active.
As the roles start to change and the next generation is gently handed the reins, let's show the generation before us, which has worked so hard to foster this addictive place, that it can trust the ones on the other end of the handoff.
This takes a choice. You've already made a decision to live here. Now it is time to make the choice to be an engaged part of your community. Show up, vote, give back, volunteer, and serve. You can create change, and the only thing stopping you is you. We don't care on which side of the issues you land, but we expect your participation, as should you.
Be proud. Make voting cool again. We are the next generation, and by voting and participating, we can be part of the decision-making process for those who will come after us.
Aspen Next Generation Advisory Commission
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