Agree to disagree on City Council
If City Council is divided, will Glenwood Springs not stand?
To hear some on council tell it, maybe not.
They’re upset about the failure of some council members to fully support council decisions once they’ve been made.
Specifically, they’re rankled by council member Dan Richardson, who has found himself in the minority on some key council votes recently, and has continued to raise questions regarding the issues.
As it turns out, playing the devil’s advocate has proven to be one of Richardson’s strengths as a council member. He has injected fresh thinking into city government as a result.
Certainly he should respect council’s decision on issues, but that doesn’t mean he has to agree with them. Who knows – it may turn out that his minority view on council turns out to square with the majority view of the voting public, as was the case with voters’ rejection of the council-approved Red Feather Ridge development.
Perhaps some principle of board service emphasizes the importance of getting behind a decision once it’s been made, no matter your view. But in the case of elected officeholders, they are most obligated to their electorate and city. If that means they can’t in good conscience quietly go along with a council decision, they’re only doing their job.
Minority opinions serve an important opinion on a council. They may force the majority to reconsider its own position, and end up either better able to defend it, or ready to reverse it.
It’s good to see council members airing out concerns regarding their working relationship, as they did last Wednesday during a strategic planning meeting. But rather than expecting everyone to fall in line on an issue, they should be willing to agree to disagree, rather than seeking to stifle dissent.
No one expects everyone in Congress or state legislatures to go along with whatever ends up being the party line, as it were. Why should it be any different on city councils?
As they say, democracy is messy, but it beats the alternative.
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