28 July 2010: CCC commissioner’s race boasts two credible candidates

Clear Creek has two solid candidates in commissioner’s primary race

At times I wonder why intelligent, clear-thinking individuals submit themselves to the rigors of a campaign in which seemingly every aspect of their being is laid bare, only to find themselves, if elected, locked in a life often filled with angry constituents hurling angry invective.

“For the same reasons people write columns,” one told me.

“Yeah,” I thought, “but those who get mad at me are doing so only in the realm of ideas.” In the realm of government, it’s about more than ideas: Decisions made by elected officials have real consequences that impact people’s lives.

Thinking of the upcoming November election, with the August primary as an interlude, draws to mind a couple allusions: a preference to submit to a proverbial root canal and Macbeth’s lament, when learning of Lady Macbeth’s death, about life being “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

The entertainment value of the top races in the Republican field should not be underestimated. Images of Ken Buck in Jane Norton’s high heels and she in Scott McInnis’s cowboy boots that look eerily like those Nancy Sinatra wore on Laugh In when she sang “These Boots Were Made for Walking” flash through the mind in a scary way. And, of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t add a quip here about me not plagiarizing that idea. So, there you have it.

But though Democrats are chuckling and Republicans are biting their nails, the silly season of politics eventually will end, and when it does, it will have real meaning with real consequences.

The Democratic candidates for commissioner offer a contrast to those statewide races. Both Tim Mauck and Dan Ebert are serious-minded, personable, intelligent and ethical. In some ways they mirror one another, yet offering different perspectives on the direction of Clear Creek.

Several times they’ve sat together in the KYGT studio talking about issues confronting the county. Their differences are at times subtle and at other times obvious and substantial, so to the discerning voter, their exchanges, available on the KYGT website, serve well for one to say, “OK, on this issue Tim is here and Dan is there.”

That discernment might be the deciding factor for many, but for others, though, it might not be enough. For them, it’s about trust and connecting — in short, about relationships. That helps one understand the quandary Republican voters face, particularly in the gubernatorial race. Is it with Buck or Norton I connect; McInnis or Don Maes? Is it only on the issues or is it more personal?

When talking with Andrew Romanoff on KYGT during the Democrats’ summer rally, he made it a point to say that that wasn’t his first trip to Clear Creek. The fact is huge because if a politico like Michael Bennet is not willing to come calling when needing support, why would we, if elected in his own right, ever expect him to come here afterward?

It sounds trite, but it’s also about communication. Good office holders make tough calls, not only on votes but also to angry or frustrated constituents. When they fail to do that, trust is broken; and as it is in any relationship, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot put Humpty-Dumpty back together again.

When I asked Romanoff about the importance of relationships voters make with a candidate, he spoke of a domestic violence survivor thanking him for pushing through a bill that has allowed hundreds of women to register to vote while providing them protection by concealing their residences with the secretary of state by way of fake addresses.

“Survivors of domestic violence cannot hire lobbyists,” said Romanoff. “We need to value every human, not because of their net worth but their inherent worth.”

That measure might be far more meaningful given its very personal and immediate impact than, say, the severance tax, though most of us are rarely impacted by domestic violence as compared with a tax.

Like everywhere, politics here can become raw. But in small communities, candidates and elected officials like columnists are not accorded the pleasure of anonymity. There’s only one supermarket in the county.

The commissioner’s race in the Democratic primary is the only significant local August contest. The beauty is that Democrats, even recent converts from Republicanism, have a choice.

Both Tim and Dan come with excellent credentials, but for the life of me, I still wonder why they and most other gluttons for punishment — aka candidates for public office — look forward to the fight. Maybe it’s that Scott McInnis, er, Teddy Roosevelt thing about those “in the arena, whose faces are marred with dust and sweat and blood.”

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