By Mike Rosso
Last month we featured a cover painting by Beatris Burgoin of the Sangre De Cristo mountain range, looking east from the San Luis Valley. This month, we are looking at that very same range, but west, from the Wet Mountain Valley. This was not intentional, but turned out to be a nice coincidence.
The big news in Salida this past month was our municipal election. The slate of candidates I referred to in my October column as the “grudge candidates” were soundly defeated by their challengers, in what appeared to be a referendum on not only the direction of the city, but the disparate style of campaigning on both sides.
The winning candidates, new mayor P.T. Wood and councilmen Harald Kaspar, Dan Shore and Justin Critelli, all ran on positive platforms, choosing not to attack their opponents but envisioning a positive future in the city for all residents, newcomers and old timers alike. On average, they collectively garnered 70 percent of the votes cast, an astonishing number by all standards.
What might have caused this sea change in Salida governance? I think much of it had to do with the negative tone and back-biting we citizens have had to endure for the past four years. Not to mention the bullying and lies which are all too much in sync with the current White House administration. This may only have been a small city election in a purple state, but based on my observations, people are mad – and they are motivated. They are rejecting exclusive, regressive politics and bully tactics. I suspect (and hope) our local election might be a harbinger of the 2108 national races. With one of the losing candidates receiving only 246 total votes, I also wonder if there may have been a lack of enthusiasm in that camp, partially due to the dismal state of national politics.
Another observation was the use of social media by the winning candidates. All of them have Facebook pages and at least one has an Instagram account. I checked for Facebook pages for the opposing candidates and found only one. Say what you will about social media, but they who chose to take advantage of it were able to communicate information quickly to their supporters about upcoming community meetings, debates and other information relative to the election. Social media also provided an instant feedback mechanism.
Whatever inevitably caused this changing of the local guard, the tasks of our new representatives will not be easy. The city is changing rapidly. Sales tax revenues on are a steady incline but so are rents and house prices. Folks who moved here for the small-town charm are understandably nervous about all the growth and speed of change. Those who were born and raised here barely recognise the place. The key here is to listen to differing voices and come to some kind of consensus on what direction we all wish for Salida.
One last note. With all the mischievousness of the current POTUS and his attempts to undo all of President Obama’s legacy, the latest travesty is the attempt to kill net neutrality.
With all the other issues swirling around – North Korea, the Mueller investigations, sexual misconduct by politicians, entertainers and journalists alike – this issue should not be minimized.
Without net neutrality, large internet service providers such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast can choose to speed up, slow down or block any content, applications or websites you want to use. Those websites who “pay to play” will benefit from greater bandwidth, leaving smaller sites subject to discrimination by these fat cats (and anybody who’s ever had to deal with these ISP’s rightfully knows they are not looking out for their customers’ best interest). If net neutrality is gone, cable and phone companies will call the shots and decide which websites, content or applications succeed.
This completely goes against the free speech right granted by the First Amendment. In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission ruled in favor of net neutrality by reclassifying broadband as a common carrier under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. The current toadies at the FCC are trying to force a vote on their repeal plan on Dec. 14. Just another Christmas present from an administration that favors corporations over citizens every time. ?– Mike Rosso