While a couple of local districts were unable to scare up enough candidates to make it a race for board seats this spring, two of the more important entities in the county will host elections, the winners of which will be called upon to make critical decisions of long-lasting importance to all of us.
The Town Council has come in for its share of attention, criticism and, in some cases, abuse of late. With a number of hot-button issues on the table or shortly to arrive, the situation does not look like it will change.
Town Council members serve as volunteers and, considering the pressure on the council lately, it comes as a pleasant surprise to learn there will be five candidates vying for three at-large seats on the council at the April 3 election.
The directors at the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation district have, likewise, experienced their share of attention the past few years, primarily concerning the proposed, and now considerably cool Dry Gulch Reservoir project.
PAWSD is again in the spotlight, however, with the ongoing proposal to cooperate with the Pagosa Sanitation and General Improvement District to create a pipeline to transport wastewater from downtown Pagosa Springs to the Vista treatment plant. Water loss and infrastructure issues also continue to dog the district and new board members will move into an active arena when they take their seats.
Six candidates will go to the vote seeking three seats on the PAWSD board and we are pleased to see that several of them bring considerable qualifications to the contest.
The PAWSD race gives us hope in that, not only is there a worthy number of candidates on the slate, but one of the candidates is a fairly young owner of a local business and another is a skilled young man born and raised here in Pagosa Country.
The slate of town candidates offers us similar hope. Two of the candidates are under 40.
Our hope is based on the desire, oft expressed here, that the younger members of our community get increasingly involved in government. It is one thing to become active when motivated by a single issue. It is another to be motivated by a single issue then broaden concern to a wider focus. Such things have happened in Pagosa Country recently, in particular in reaction to the possible arrival of a Wal-Mart in the area. Any number of our younger citizens have been roused and are taking action in this context.
It is another matter again to seek public office and put oneself in the position to represent the residents of the area, to embody their interests by taking part in representative government, actually making the decisions that shape the community, being accountable for those decisions and for what results from them.
We hope voters will take account of the presence of younger members of the community in this spring’s political process. Voters should assess all the candidates closely, focusing on what a candidate brings to the table in terms of skills and experience. The voters should also consider the fact that a changing of the guard is necessary. It has been too long coming. The members of the Pagosa Country community under the age of 40 must step up and take control of this place — this place where they and their children will live and, hopefully prosper. It is their future and it is one for which they must take responsibility, by bringing new ideas and concerns to the forefront and by shattering the status quo.
The only thing missing from this spring’s elections: female candidates.
Perhaps the next time around.