I was so sorry to hear Rio Blanco County had a low voter turnout this year. Yet, I somehow expected it. Visiting with family and friends these past few weeks before the election I got the feeling that so many people were disgusted with the entire political process, they didn’t plan to vote at all. Politicians aren’t the only ones who have been picking up the closest cudgel and beating everyone with it. Even if someone has been a lifelong voter and treated Election Day as a holiday or sorts, they seemed to be considering not voting.
Raised in a large extended family of a few staunch Republicans, as well as a great number of dedicated Democrats with a sprinkling of Independents and Libertarians, I grew up being exposed to everyone’s political views at Sunday dinners where family and friend gathered each week. My grandfather’s family life was forged on the fire and brimstone teachings of his missionary parents and grandparents in Thailand in the early 1800s. My grandmother’s family was forged on the same kind of hearth, as they emigrated to Colonial America from Great Britain in the 1600s, and most of them were preachers. There were quite a few heated arguments at family gatherings but they never did stop getting together.
Turning 18 was a landmark for me because I could vote. I felt part of something bigger and tried to make sure I voted in every election, national and local. Over the years I took advantage of the availability of the mail-in ballot option as it made it possible to still stay involved in the community. It didn’t stop me the year I forgot to bring personal identification, as I got out of line and ran home to get the necessary paperwork so I could vote.
Putting one’s name out there to serve on a board such as County Commissioners, Town Council, and a number of special districts is a hard step to take, even for the most committed of us all. I respect and admire that dedication. It can be a daunting experience, and often the slate of local candidates is very small. Community involvement in small towns means that many of the names listed on ballots are familiar and more often than not, they have been serving on all the different boards over the years.
It was refreshing to see so many new faces in the community enter the political ring this year. While there were only four open seats on the Meeker School Board, the 12 candidates who stepped up were able to let the voters know what they felt about all of the issues facing schools in these times. No matter how strongly one feels about the different challenges, financial and otherwise, it is important that each board member not only offer their own ideas, but collaborate with the other board members to ensure that this community’s children are served well. My congratulations go out to the newest members of the Meeker RE-1 School District, as well as the incumbent Bill deVergie! Thanks for your care and concern for all of our children!
By DOLLY VISCARDI – Special to the Herald Times