On Nov. 6, vote yes, five times


By Su Lum
Published October 24th 2007 in Aspen Times
Thirteen days from now, we’re having what I expect will be a record-low-turnout election on four financial questions and one regarding instant runoff voting. Much to my surprise, I sat down to read the sample ballot and found myself in favor of all of them.

Indeed, there has been so little public dispute that I predict many voters will assume the ballot questions will all pass, take a ho-hum attitude and stay home on Nov. 6, especially if it’s a blustery day when it’s tempting to stay under the covers with warm kittens and puppies.

This is an all call to do your civic duty, and to remind you that you can vote early in the city clerk’s office at City Hall, when you can pick your own sunny day. I can pretty much guarantee that there will be no lines, and with only five questions, it will be short and sweet.

Referendum 2A asks you to approve a 0.15 percent sales tax (down from the present .25 percent) and a 2.12 percent use tax (now 0 percent) on construction and building materials, to finance city transit services and pedestrian amenities. Go for it.

Referendum 2B asks for a 0.65 mill levy increase on property taxes for an expanded stormwater management system. The program to clean up the runoff from our storm sewers is being put into place in phases. One phase was the Jennie Adair Wetlands project down by ACES, a big mess of digging for a long time but now quite admirable (except for the ubiquitous “boulder art”).

Though I am not enthused about any increase in property taxes (how about a luxury tax instead?), this is for a good cause.

Referendum 2C is a bond issue for a new hydroelectric facility on the city’s property under the Castle Creek bridge. This is a bond issue — giving the city the ability to borrow the money and ultimately build a generating plant using our rivers to create cheap, nonpolluting electricity.

Why not?

Referendum 2D asks for authorization to build this facility on what is now a small parking lot for heavy equipment (technically “open space”). Again, why not?

Referendum 2E asks if we want to cease and desist with our stupid, expensive, time-consuming runoff elections and, instead, get straight to the nut and institute a system wherein we indicate our first, second, third etc. choices and end up with an instant winner. A big YES on this one.

I think the community (not to mention the candidates) is sick and tired of doing the whole debate and advertising blitz thing all over again, especially since whoever won in the first go-round always ends up winning again in the end. This is our opportunity to fix a clearly broken system.

Vote early, and vote YES.

Su Lum is a longtime local who usually doesn’t agree with anything. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.