Having four candidates running for three seats on the Durango City Council is both fortuitous and awkward. It benefits the voters because it forces an election with the attendant discussion of candidates, issues and ideas, instead of simply giving the jobs to the only applicants.
At the same time, though, choosing three is to effectively eliminate one, a choice that too easily could be seen as personal or unduly negative. That is unfortunate. There is not a bad candidate in the field, and all four deserve the community's thanks for making this a contest.
Nonetheless, the choice must be made: The Herald endorses Christina Thompson, Doug Lyon and Paul Broderick for the Durango City Council.
Christina Thompson is new to elective office. As such, she would bring to the council a fresh perspective, something that can benefit all decision-making bodies from time to time.
With personal experience in local business and an academic background in environmental science, she promises innovative thinking along with her undeniable energy and infectious enthusiasm. Economizing by cutting trash pickups to three times per week, as she has suggested be considered, may or may not be workable. But what a refreshingly simple and straightforward idea - and one that does not start with hiring a consultant.
Too much newness, however, can translate as a simple lack of knowledge. And, in council terms, that leads to the ongoing problem of over-reliance on the city staff, which, while competent, is neither elected nor responsible for setting policy.
For the experience to complement Thompson's eagerness, we look to Doug Lyon. The only incumbent running, Lyon is a Fort Lewis College business professor who has served on the council for four years and on the Planning Commission before that. He knows city government and the city budget, in particular. That is especially important given that budgetary concerns almost certainly will be the most important, most demanding and most difficult issues to come before this council.
Lyon also has a steady disposition that should serve the council well in trying times. A well-intentioned intellectual detachment can be crucial when dealing, as the council may need to, with cuts to popular programs that can evoke strong emotions.
Paul Broderick also would bring financial acumen to the council. A banker with an emphasis on small businesses, he also has experience working with the Region 9 Economic Development Agency. Both could prove valuable in the economic climate facing the city.
All three are involved in the community and evidence real concern about the future of Durango. The city should be well served by their willingness to take part.
The only danger is that all three bring the same business-oriented perspective. And while that should be beneficial in addressing budgetary issues, we look to incumbent councilors Leigh Meigs and Michael Rendon to remind their colleagues that Durango exists beyond downtown and the concerns of its residents matter as much as those of its business community.
And, while praising Thompson, Lyon and Broderick, we should bear in mind Aaron Tucson. To want to rejoin the council after firsthand experience with the job - and presumably understanding the difficulties the next council will face - is admirable, even courageous.
But while re-electing an incumbent has the virtue of continuity, returning a former councilor to office has the feel of going backward. Tucson did some good work in his time on the council, including his support for the popular skate and dog parks. But in the most contentious decision of his tenure - the vote on River Trails Ranch - Tucson was wrong. And his current enthusiasm for local funding of health care is well-intentioned but fiscally unsound. The city is in no position to expand spending, particularly on what, in economic terms, is a bottomless pit.
Tucson deserves the public's thanks for making this a race and for raising his voice on concerns that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. But, again, we have to choose.
Vote for Christina Thompson, Doug Lyon and Paul Broderick.