Mountains

Summing up the choices

Elections used to be relatively straightforward. On Election Day, voters stood in line to mark a ballot. This year, most local voters have already cast their mail-in ballots or voted early at the clerk’s office, and for them, until the results start rolling in, Tuesday will be just like any other day. Thanks to technology, local results should be announced relatively quickly after the polls have closed.

The presidential race is another matter. It may be decided in Ohio, or court challenges may delay it indefinitely.

Frustrating, and perhaps disenfranchising, as that may be, it’s no reason not to vote. If you have a mail ballot, make sure to return it by Tuesday’s deadline. If you don’t, vote at your polling place on Tuesday. Don’t let others decide your political future.

This year’s ballot is somewhat shorter than those of recent years, but it contains important choices. The Journal (and most other newspapers in the nation) have made recommendations:

BALLOT QUESTIONS:

All three school measures deserve the support of voters in their respective districts, because all three are sound solutions to significant problems. 3A is a mill levy increase for Mancos schools; 3B and 3C are bond issues that would provide funds to match Building Excellent Schools Today grants for Cortez and Dolores. Tax increases are always painful, but property taxes in Colorado are relatively low and education is an extremely valuable investment. Voting against any of these measures would be shortsighted.

The ballot includes three state questions:

Amendment S would update the state personnel system to give greater flexibility in appointments and greater emphasis on merit. Amendment S also would increase the hiring preference for veterans and would somewhat increase the ability of the state to hire non-residents for positions that “cannot be readily filled from among residents.” Vote “yes.”

Amendment 64 to the state constitution would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana by persons 21 and over, and would require the state to regulate the growth, manufacture, sale and taxation of marijuana in a system of licensed establishments overseen by state and local governments. The war on drugs, especially pot, is counterproductive, but inserting drug policy into the state constitution and thumbing the state’s nose at the federal government is not a good idea. This may well pass; we still recommend waiting for a better plan.

Amendment 65 would “instruct” Colorado’s congressional delegation to support a campaign finance amendment to the U.S. Constitution and would further instruct the state legislature to ratify such an amendment. It’s an entirely symbolic reaction to Citizens United, which needs to be overturned but won’t be affected by this measure. Vote “no” and push for real campaign finance reform.

JUDICIAL RETENTION:

District Judge Todd Jay Plewe, in the 22nd Judicial District, has earned a strongly positive vote for retention. State supreme court justices and court of appeals judges also are recommended for retention.

CANDIDATES:

For University of Colorado regent, the Journal recommends Brian Davidson and Jessica Garrow.

In the third district race for county commissioner, Dewayne Findley, Greg Kemp and Larry Don Suckla are conducting an impressively civil race that focuses on the issues facing the county. All three candidates deserve thanks for that. We support Findley for his broad experience.

Don Coram, the Republican incumbent, has represented Colorado’s 58th house district extremely well. He is deeply conservative, as is the district. He is also bright, analytical and hard-working. After this election, all of Montezuma County will move into the 58th. Coram will serve us well.

Scott Tipton, in the 3rd Congressional District, provides the advantage of a local voice in Washington. Sal Pace has run a strong race and would be a good representative, but Tipton’s politics align most closely with the majority of Montezuma County’s voters.

The choice in the presidential race has been well stated by Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, writing in the New York Times: “If President Obama is re-elected, health care coverage will expand dramatically, taxes on the wealthy will go up and Wall Street will face tougher regulation. If Mitt Romney wins instead, health coverage will shrink substantially, taxes on the wealthy will fall to levels not seen in 80 years and financial regulation will be rolled back.”

The race presents a clear choice, and Obama — who has accomplished a great deal more than he’s being given credit for, despite some very unprincipled opposition in Congress — will shape a nation more hospitable to ordinary citizens.

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