To the Editor:

Many of our public institutions are overseen by boards in which the board members are selected based on where they live. They are typically charged with representing their home district, but also asked to “take into consideration the interests of the county as a whole.“ That can be a fraught issue at the best of times, but with budget crunches and deep political divides the volume gets turned up to 11.

This issue moved front and center last week in a discussion concerning the BOCC’s approval of the bylaws for the Open Lands, Rivers and Trails Advisory Committee.  Reported comments from both Commissioners Merritt Linke and Rich Cimino suggest a shift to favor their own constituents a little more aggressively. From Marissa Loenz’s  article:

The decision comes after a delayed vote last week, following a discussion in which Commissioner Rich Cimino expressed concern that some of the language in different documents varied. Specifically, the resolution binding the Committee bylaws describes a 15 percent cap on collected monies that can be used for trail maintenance. Whereas, the ballot didn’t mention any spending caps.  Cimino was concerned about the discrepancy, saying, “I think that the voters were duped.” He quoted ballot language that reads, “without limitation or condition.” And said, “It’s my perception that voters in District 1 were excited about trail maintenance.”

I have no concerns regarding the fair-mindedness and civic commitment of either Commissioners Linke or Cimino. Or with the way this decision was made. I wish only to draw attention to what I see as a gradual shift in orientation, taking emphasis away from “considering the interests of the county as a whole” and placing a little more on  “Me First.”

Certainly each commissioner is bound to take account of their own constituents’ concerns. The “Me First” in all of us is watchful and demanding. Yet demanding that your own representative support the home district as aggressively as possible, offers little advantage if it causes the other districts to respond in kind. The same forces that are at work creating discord in our country are gaining footholds in our county.

~ Peter Ralf
Grand County Community