Letter: Your vote counts | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Your vote counts

As a county commissioner, I've had the opportunity to travel throughout the country and the Western states going to conferences and summits about the challenges facing rural populations and the search for lasting solutions. As different as each county and their economy is from one another, there are always common needs and policy threads that weave us together in the pursuit of strong, sustainable healthy communities — the willingness to make investments in ourselves, to invest in our own futures, to put resources toward our goals instead of wishful thinking.

As you cast your ballot in election Tuesday, you will be asked to renew your contribution to some agencies; to increase your contribution to others; to invest in school infrastructure and personal, firefighting and emergency response preparedness, hospital-service excellence — all components of community resilience, safety and continuing prosperity. These ballot questions are being brought forth by agencies and their citizen volunteer boards after much public outreach, open deliberation, belt tightening and assessment of their ability to provide needed and expected community services.

With all due respect, I am asking you to join me in voting "yes" on the Aspen School District and the Re-1 School District's mill-levy questions. The state budget cuts to education are real and will continue to have detrimental impacts on the future prospects of the valley's children if we do not step up to the plate.

Please vote "yes" on your county's ballot question on school finance.

Quality medical care, overlooked when you are well and heaven-sent when in need is not something that can be just turned on and off. Please vote "yes" to renew the current Aspen Valley Hospital mill levy.

Forest fires have ravished the West this summer. While we were most fortunate to have had a wet spring and early summer, the threat of overwhelming fuel loads and ever hotter temperatures make wildfires a question of when not if. Please vote "yes" for the Carbondale Fire District's ballot measure so that it can be fully equipped for day-to-day emergency services and fully prepared as an agency we depend on when lives and property are threatened.

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Healthy, resilient, safe, economically thriving communities don't happen by chance. The infrastructure of success takes long-range thinking, community commitment, careful planning and targeted investment. I am proud to play my small part in supporting these agencies by voting "yes" on these important measures, and I hope you will join me.

Ballots must be received by your County Clerk's Office by 7 p.m. Tuesday. It is now too late to mail them in, so please drop them off at your County Clerk's Office or voting center. If you have not yet received your ballot by mail or have misplaced it, again contact the County Clerk's Office and you can get a replacement ballot. Your vote matters — please participate, and thanks.

Rachel E. Richards

Aspen