La Plata Electric Association members have a few more days to drop off their ballots at a couple of locations in Durango and Bayfield, or at the La Plata County Clerk’s office (do not involve the U.S. Postal Service at this late date). LPEA account-holders are voting by district: the board is spread over four districts, including one in Archuleta County. Are the three districts in La Plata County necessary? As we consider the issues in this election, and in recent past elections, we do not think so.
The need for consistently good electrical service, appropriate rates and environmental considerations are equally important across all the districts. The six candidates for the three seats could instead be running against one another, with the top three vote-getters earning the seats. That might also result in the three best candidates being chosen, rather than the better of each pair.
But, this editorial is to point out different election divisions, not an effort to advocate for restructuring LPEA’s governing board’s policies!
In Montezuma County, there is a single school board seat which is chosen not at-large but by the residents of that district. That is to make it more likely that someone associated with the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, or living near the reservation and thus perhaps more familiar with tribal issues and needs, will be chosen to fill that seat. A court decided to carve out that district for that need.
A few decades ago, when it came to road and bridge maintenance and construction in Colorado, each county commissioner had his own road district. Road conditions were uppermost in residents’ minds, and they believed that one commissioner, knowing a lot about the needs of one-third of the county rather than a little about three-thirds, would be able to respond more effectively. So, county-owned graders, trucks, staff and paving machines moved back and forth among the districts, sometimes in an uncoordinated fashion, as each third of the county received an equal amount of attention. County taxpayer money was not wisely spent, and road and bridge districts are gone.
La Plata County, with its approximate population of 57,000, can best be governed as it is now by county commissioners voted at-large. The county has a long history of commissioners in differing combinations of Republican and Democrat working collaboratively with one another for the betterment of the entire county.
Voting by district would easily become a “he’s mine” and “they’re yours” scenario which would mean unhelpful divisiveness. For the sake of better government, a subcommittee of the Legislature was right to vote down last week the possibility of small counties voting by commissioner districts. Better for residents to shape their arguments as persuasively as they can and present them to all three commissioners. La Plata County’s commissioners are accessible and will listen, and they have a history of working together.