Really? Election stuff already?

It feels a bit early to even touch on any election up here at 9,000 feet in the mountains. Since there are about 250 days left until the November election, we don’t like to think about that sort of thing until the middle or end of summer. But with the results of the Mt. Crested Butte special recall election finally released, the primary and caucuses/assemblies happening and local candidates already throwing hats into the ring, we might as well do a fly-by on the issue.

First the recall. With 160 Mt. Crested Butte voters electing to not recall councilmember Roman Kolodziej and 102 voting to remove him, the citizens made a good decision to not use the bludgeon of a recall in this situation. I have stated that the issue that started the whole kerfuffle, the elimination of a regular Mt. CB bus route and the implementation of the Uber-like FirstTracks, could have and should have been handled better politically. The communication and public outreach on the idea and decision sort of sucked. But that slip on the ice and subsequent frustrating follow-ups between Roman and some of his constituents was not a reason to use the hammer of a recall. 

And by a pretty large percentage, the citizens apparently felt the same way. A vote of 160 to 102 isn’t that close with less than 40% voting in favor of the recall. That’s not to say that lessons cannot be learned, and it is obvious that better, more transparent communication is a vital key to all small-town politics. Those like Roman sitting on local political boards are essentially volunteers doing their best for the benefit of their community. That doesn’t mean that bare-knuckled discussions over policy and politics shouldn’t happen, but it does mean that there are limits for what to expect of your elected neighbors. This ain’t the deep state of national spitting matches and it should never get to that.

Speaking of spitting matches — or maybe it should be termed drooling matches with two late-decade septuagenarians thinking only they can solve everything as America’s president. Grrrr. It may surprise no one that I received a ballot for the Democratic Party presidential primary election. My excitement is as strong as the winds recorded at Scarp Ridge on Tuesday during the blizzard…not. I am so disappointed that the seventh name on the list of candidates, Joseph R. Biden Jr., is listed on my ballot. I think he has done a wonderful job in his three years as the president. Getting bipartisan legislation through that has helped reinvigorate the rural economies of much of the country through infrastructure, research and manufacturing funding is a real accomplishment.

In a recent NYT column by conservative David Brooks, Brooks pointed out that during Joe’s term, the U.S. economy has created 10.8 million production and nonsupervisory jobs, including nearly 800,000 manufacturing jobs and 774,000 construction jobs. Wages are rising faster for people at the lower end of the wage scale than for people at the higher end. The column noted that 61 percent of the jobs created by the infrastructure law Biden championed wouldn’t require a college degree; the same applied for 58 percent of the jobs created by the Inflation Reduction Act and 44 percent of those created by the CHIPS act. Good work for the country. He and his team accomplished some good stuff.

But who would deny that Joe is showing his age. He seems to have lost a literal step. For me, he was the right guy at the right time to keep Donald from another four years of chaos. Thank you. I expected he would be the “bridge” to younger leaders for the country. I was apparently wrong. 

Look, for people like me witnessing the aging of people of my parent’s generation, it’s not about Joe today. It’s about watching Joe and being rational about his future. If he is “halting” now, what will he be like four years from now? Despite the recent news stories touting how horny Joe can be with Jill (ewwww), he won’t ever again project the vigor of the guys in the vitality meds advertisements. We can all see the future in others his age and like it or not, most 82-year-olds should not be leading the free world. Despite my disappointment, if it comes down to crazy chaos old man versus aging competent old man, I’ll certainly vote for Joe. But this week I will be checking the oval next to Armando or Dean or Frankie. 

Locally, Mt. CB will have a November election. Four people stepped up during the recall election to possibly replace Roman and all have indicated they plan to throw their hats in the ring this fall. The new voter turnout benchmark for Mt. CB is 262. 

As for the county, commissioners Jonathan Houck and Liz Smith are in for November. This will be Houck’s fourth time running for commissioner and this week he filed the paperwork with the secretary of state to be a candidate. Smith said she plans to run for her seat again but will go through the county assembly process that is scheduled to take place March 9.

On the GOP side, I emailed county Republican chairperson Cori Dobson Tuesday to see if anyone has expressed serious interest in running for county commissioner and didn’t hear back. Local GOPers will hold their caucus and assembly on March 9 as well at the Fred Field building at the county fairgrounds and we’ll see if someone steps up.

So there you have it — early election observations. Probably a bit too early to get too deep into it, but it is coming whether you like it or not. In the meantime, get out and enjoy the end of winter — that Tuesday blizzard was old-school impressive! And for those that hike the ski area on uphill gear, ski patrol is again making it clear you shouldn’t elect to stray from the designated route…that might result in a loss for everyone!

—Mark Reaman

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