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Campaign Diary #5. Experience Counts. Or Does It?

By Bob - Posted on 17 July 2010

My opponent has served a total of 24 years as San Juan County Commissioner. I have never run for public office. His ads in the Silverton Standard read "Experience Counts". This is my response.

How important is experience or length of time in office when it comes to weighing the pros and cons of voting for someone? Certainly, experience counts in technical occupations like airline pilot and deep-sea diver. No one wants a person in the cockpit of an airplane who has never flown before or somebody fixing a communications cable who has never been underwater. But what about politics? Does an office holder improve with age?
The best answer to this question is "occasionally", but voters overwhelmingly approve term limits whenever they appear on a ballot. Our Colorado Constitution sets term limits for elected officials at the state level and permits local governments to do whatever they want.
Here in Silverton our town board of trustees and our school board members are limited in the number of terms they can serve.
Nationally, the office of President, the most important job in the world, is limited to two terms. Each time a new President from a different party takes office thousands of jobs at the federal level change hands. This can happen in the middle of an international emergency of a national disaster when experience would be at a premium, but no one is suggesting we change our democratic system.
At the county commissioner level the kinds of crises that make continuity in office vitally important are rare. When something unusual happens knowledgeable staff people and community experts can be called upon for advice.
What we need in San Juan County are new ideas, active leadership, fresh thinking. We need to get rid of unproductive old habits. "This is the way it's always been done" does not have to be the answer to every question about how we do business.
Entrenched career politicians tend to get stuck in a rut. They believe they are entitled to their jobs and do not have to do much actual work just because they have been in office a long time. Often they become identified with special interests and do not give their decisions careful consideration.
On November 2, when the people of San Juan County decide who they will vote for as Commissioner, I hope they will take into account energy. enthusiasm, openness to new ideas, the ability to get along with different kinds of people, and variety of life experience, not just the number of years someone has been in office.
The past is past. Twenty-four years is enough. Let's move forward. Let's do what's best for our county. San Juan County needs new leadership, Commissioners who are well-informed on the issues, work hard and focus on the future.


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