PI Editorial: Choose referendums over recalls | PostIndependent.com

PI Editorial: Choose referendums over recalls

Post Independent Editorial Board

Looking ahead to 2022, it seems as if the question of what development could or should look like in Glenwood Springs will be going to the voters.

Many West Glenwood residents have already begun circulating a referendum seeking to place on the ballot the recent annexation that paves the way for a 300-unit development in the neighborhood.

Many residents pushed back against the project tooth and nail and were gravely disappointed when Glenwood Springs City Council voted to approve the project 4-3 earlier this month.

While R2 Partners made significant changes to the project to try and allay residents’ concerns, increased traffic and its impact on the ability for residents to evacuate during a fire remains front and center in the minds of many opposed to the development.

In order to have it overturned, however, opponents need to collect signatures and get it on the ballot first.

We’re OK with the project going to a referendum. Referendum votes can help gauge just how broad support or lack thereof is for a recent decision made by our elected officials, and this issue can help drive necessary conversation about how the future of Glenwood Springs looks.

One thing we’d want to hear is what West Glenwood residents see as a smart vision for growth. Any position that claims Glenwood shouldn’t grow or can’t grow ignores the growing crisis of hiring and retaining employees that our school districts, law enforcement agencies, health care entities and more already face. Housing for employees is not a future crisis, it’s a crisis already here — with the potential to get much worse if we don’t address it as a community.

The referendum will be a great way to help explain these issues — and see what we can come up with as a community for solutions.

On the other hand, we’re more skeptical of the value of recall elections. There have been murmurs of trying to replace one or several council members for how they voted on the annexation and other issues. Colorado law allows for recall votes, but just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. At each level, our system of government uses representative democracy, not direct democracy. That means we vote to entrust those who we believe will make smart, good and, perhaps most importantly, difficult decisions.

Voting to kick someone out whenever they did something we disagreed with would attach revolving doors to our representative bodies — and most likely result in electing politicians who are inclined to do nothing at all out of fear of reprisal. Then there’s the fact that we already have opportunities to replace them during regular elections and, unlike special elections, they aren’t an extra expense to the taxpayer.

Finally, we just don’t think throwing recalls and a referendum all at once to the voters is smart strategy. The kitchen sink approach might feel good, but it dilutes energy and attention all around. A referendum on its own focuses conversation on the most important matter: How should we grow?

Railroad Avenue kudos

On a completely different note, we encourage anyone who hasn’t already done so to visit downtown Rifle and check out the new improvements throughout the core. Construction finally, finally, finally wrapped up earlier this year, and it is great to see the benefits throughout downtown.

Thanks to the contractor, the city of Rifle and downtown business owners for sticking through it all and helping us get to the other side.

The Post Independent editorial board members are Publisher Bryce Jacobson, Editor Peter Baumann, Managing Editor/Senior Reporter John Stroud, and community representative Amy Connerton.

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