Blogger: Sandy Evans-Hall, Executive Vice President of the Chamber
I have often been frustrated with the state’s ballot process. I have even been known to vote NO on all constitutional amendments, regardless of their merit, just because I don’t think everything but the kitchen sink belongs in our state constitution. Referendums from our legislators in recent years have seemed watered down with all the political give and take. And I refuse to sign all the initiative petitions carried by people I don’t know that I believe are being paid to get my signature as if it was a commodity. Then there are the campaigns with battling 30 second sound bites that battle for the worst outcome leaving me feeling hopeless because the end of the world is certain regardless of how I vote.
So, with my pent up frustration, I have been participating in the recent civic engagement dialogue sponsored by Colorado’s Future organization and was a willing table facilitator as well as core leader for the meeting held Wednesday night at the Steamboat Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center. It was wonderful to see so many civic leaders in one place at one time – a real who’s who of the community. I thought if ever a group could be convened to make a difference in anything, this was the group!
The process of the evening was quite interesting. We interacted with each other, we listened to each other, and we voted our views as it related to state ballot reform with our handy dandy technological keypad gadgets. We learned early on that we were evenly divided between Republican and Democrats with a larger than normal supply of independent voters. And yet, together we came to an overwhelming majority when it came to our choice of solutions.
As was explained to us by the spokespeople present, this civic engagement process could present a new way to address state reform. If we can come to such a level of agreement in our community and if we could agree with similar groups in other communities such as Grand Junction, Pueblo, Lakewood, and Greeley, we just might be able to convince our legislators to carry such a solution to the voters without over compromising it. And we could each talk to 20 of our friends or family that would be influenced by their relationship and trust in us and we could get enough votes to get it passed.
I felt hopeful again! I think this could actually work! At least I’m willing to give it a try. As was presented at the start of the meeting, the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” It will be fascinating to see how this unfolds as we move forward, and if it is successful, who knows? Constitutional reform, fiscal reform, watch out… here we engaged civic leaders come!