Jim Hoffman
Free Press Opinion Columnist

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April 4, 2013
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HOFFMAN: A new and improved city council?

One would be tempted to use a headline reading "Bring in the Clowns" for today's musings, but that would bring yet another complaint of character assassination.

Had such a headline been used, it would not have been a personal attack on any person or persons but rather an expression of the disenchantment we seem to have with any elected official. Quite frankly we do not expect them to distinguish themselves significantly from their predecessors.

As if loudly proclaiming their disdain and detachment from the election, about 10% of voters failed to cast a vote in the council contests. In some cases these "under votes" could have swayed the outcome of the race. The under vote was most pronounced in the three-way District D race and the at-large contest between Mayor Bill Pitts and Rick Brainard. It would appear that "None of the Above" would have had a shot at victory had we only been given the opportunity. The victors should think carefully before claiming a mandate. Clearly, we voters were less than overwhelmed.

The voters went to the polls to express an opinion on the Brady Trucking and TABOR override initiatives. Maybe the voters were better prepared to grasp a specific concept rather than nebulous promises of being somehow better than the other guy (or gal).

After years of wrangling, legal impediments, a reticent city council and more, Brady Trucking appears poised to move forward with their trucking terminal. During the run-up to the election, we were promised jobs and prosperity if we sided with Brady. We have; now let's see some return on that election bombast. Brady has won a property rights battle at a heavy price.

The request to override TABOR restrictions and allow retention of excess taxes for infrastructure projects was defeated by a small margin. We voters want to see the 29 Road interchange, we want to see continuing improvements to Horizon Drive, and we want to see continued upgrades to our city and the gateways to our city. However, we do not appear ready to grant carte blanche to our elected officials when they have shown little restraint in spending.

OK, on to the individual races ... In District A Phyllis Norris handily defeated incumbent Tom Kenyon. Kenyon could not have been saved had he earned all the under votes. Norris' story of rise from bottom to top of the City Market organization is impressive and would seem to be indicative of specific leadership characteristics we seek in a council member.

District D results gave Marty Chazen a paper-thin lead over incumbent Laura Luke. The under votes here could have easily swayed the outcome. Chazen ran as a "numbers guy" (certainly a somewhat detached and not warm, fuzzy slogan). If he has a good grasp of numbers he should look at the vote totals and realize he has a long way to go to convince us cynics he deserves this spot on the council.

In the District E race, Harry Butler (proclaimed here as the only truly altruistic candidate) came out on top. A local political heavy called him "sincere" but questioned his grasp of budgetary matters. Maybe there can be good derived from having a political innocent sitting among the others. We will have to wait to see if he is an effective counterweight or ineffectual. We will pray for the former.

For the at-large seat we saw Mayor Bill Pitts defeated by newcomer Rick Brainard. During the race there were questions raised by Pitts and others as to Brainard's ability to provide the position the time it demands. Apparently, voters did not share that concern. However, more that 11% chose not to cast a vote for either gentleman. We shall keep an eye on Brainard's attendance record and see if we have a new council member or an absentee representative.

We have no great discontent with any of the incoming council members and believe each to have the ability to do well. We offer sincere congratulations to each of them. We join all voters in wishing them well and prayerfully hope they guide our city in the nonpartisan and wise manner each has promised.

Jim Hoffman is a local Realtor and investor who, when not working, loves skiing, camping and fishing (in season). He may be reached at freepressjim@gmail.com.

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The Post Independent Updated Apr 8, 2013 06:19PM Published Apr 4, 2013 02:47PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.