15 October 2008: Time to keep electing problems solvers

Time to keep electing problem solvers

When you got a good thing going, stick with it. That’s what it comes down to with Sen. Dan Gibbs, Rep. Claire Levy, and Commissioners Joan Drury and Kevin O’Malley.

Over the past several years, Democrats being on the ascendant here in Colorado can be explained in part by better organization and funding sources.

Those, though, have been coupled with voters rejecting angry and divisive conservative ideology and opting to elect pragmatic problem solvers to run their government.

Among those problem solvers is Dan Gibbs, a new face and refreshing voice of reason who worked his tail off in his first run for office, defeating veteran pol Ken Chlouber to represent the district to the west of Clear Creek.

Shortly after, Dan was appointed to replace our old friend Joan Fitz-Gerald in the Senate. Since then he has done a remarkable job, getting, for example, 22 of the 26 bills he carried enacted into law.

Being a wildfire firefighter, he is perfectly placed on the Natural Resources and Energy committee, one of five on which he sits. The vial containing a pine beetle he constantly carries is an ever-present reminder of the ever-present calamity around us.

I was able to watch and get to know Dan firsthand last spring with his call to action at a rally on the steps of the capitol to oppose a misguided attempt to toll at the Eisenhower-Johnson Tunnels. His hard-line stance against the proposal helped doom it.

Dan is working his tail off again, this time to earn the privilege of representing us on his own quipping that he has re-soled his cowboy boots three times since beginning to knock on doors.

Claire Levy, a self-described environmentalist and civil libertarian, says her priorities in the next legislative session include education funding, health care reform, and continuing her efforts in the areas of energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.

A discussion I had on KYGT on October 4th with Claire and her challenger Robert Houdeshell, which can be heard by going to the KYGT website, revealed clear distinctions between them including on the I-70 corridor issue.

It was evident Claire understands the complexity, implications, and long-term solutions to the I-70 problem, calling for “public-private partnerships” as the way to go on funding. She called for a “multi-faceted approach” as the best way to approach the issue, insisting that transit be a key component of the outcome.

Robert said that pursuing a private-sector solution is best because it is the quickest way to solve the problem and that more buses could greatly help reduce the number of personal vehicles on the highway during peak travel times.

While I found Robert engaging and personable, I was struck by his admission that trusting him with allocating tax dollars is “like trusting me with dark chocolate.”

When it comes to trust, there are two areas that ultimately define relationships: private/personal information and money. In the realm of public officials, the first element is generally not a consideration; the second most certainly is.

Robert’s admission gives rise to this question: if the people’s representatives can’t be trusted with making decisions about the disbursement of public monies, how can they be trusted to make good decisions in other areas?

That is a powerful reason to repeal TABOR: in addition to it being destructive to the economic health of our state, it provides cover to legislators when it comes to taxes and expenditures. It allows them to duck public votes on fiduciary issues and ultimately being held accountable for them.

Claire also made clear she understands the gravity of the funding problem statewide on education, health care, transportation, et al.

“Funding is our greatest challenge we are facing in Colorado,” she said. “We are at the bottom or near the bottom on the full range of issues.”

Overall, this team of commissioners has been good for Clear Creek. While most of us could probably nitpick an issue or two—I disagreed with O’Malley’s and Harry Dale’s votes on Eclipse—one has to look at what they have done as a package.

Joan and Kevin’s list of accomplishments is extensive, including the re-establishment of the Meadows medical clinic and road and bridge improvements.

It comes down to competence in governance. If one has a pre-ordained disposition that government can’t work, he/she will work, consciously or not, to prove his/her point.

On the other hand, when one understands that government is the other half of the partnership that sustains our society and, thus, plays a vital role in achieving our well-being as delineated in the Preamble to the Constitution, then he/she can do a service to his/her constituency by representing them with integrity in a thoughtful manner.

That’s what our two gals and two guys have done and the reason they are asking for our support to continue doing just that.

Programming note: Sen. Dan Gibbs will be my guest on KYGT at 3:00 October 18. His opponent Don Ytterberg will not able to participate due to a scheduling conflict.

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