Voting by district: For better government, avoiding further divisiveness, the legislature voted right

Thursday, May 10, 2018 3:15 PM
Colorado State Capitol

In Montezuma County, there is a single school board seat that is chosen not at-large but by the residents of that district. The reason for this outlier is to increase the likelihood that someone associated with the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, or living near the reservation and thus perhaps more familiar with tribal issues and needs, will be chosen to fill that seat. A court decided to carve out that district for that need.

A few decades ago, when it came to road and bridge maintenance and construction in Colorado, each county commissioner had his own road district. Road conditions were uppermost in residents’ minds, and they believed that one commissioner, knowing a lot about the needs of one-third of the county rather than a little about three-thirds, would be able to respond more effectively.

So, county-owned graders, trucks, staff and paving machines moved back and forth among the districts, sometimes in an uncoordinated fashion, as each third of the county received an equal amount of attention. County taxpayer money was not wisely spent, and road and bridge districts are gone.

Montezuma County, with its approximate population of 26,168, can best be governed as it is now by at-large county commissioners working collaboratively with one another for the betterment of the entire county.

Voting by district could easily devolve into a “he’s mine” and “they’re yours” scenario fostering divisiveness. For the sake of better government, a subcommittee of the Legislature was right to vote down last week the possibility of small counties voting by commissioner districts – better for residents to persuasively shape their arguments and present them to all three commissioners. Montezuma County’s commissioners are accessible and will listen, and they have a history of working together.