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Club 20 attempting to unify community voices

Groups to take discussion results to lawmakers

— There is a lot of talk about change swirling in government these days, but Reeves Brown, executive director of the Western Slope advocacy group, Club 20, is taking action on the idea.

Brown sees a problem with the way government in Colorado listens to its constituents, decides what issues are important, and what decisions are healthy for the state.

Brown said the current system that includes lobbyists and special interest groups is "not making any solutions" and churning out the same "stale outcomes" on issues that are important to many Coloradans.

"We need solutions that aren't politically motivated," Brown said. "These ideas are cooked up and sold to constituents rather than the people taking the issues to the legislators."

Brown wants the community to decide issues important to them and the solutions they would like to see.

With the backing of Club 20, and under the banner of Colorado's Future, another advocacy coalition concerned with the state's well-being, Brown has started testing an idea to pool the collective community agreements of key civic leaders and present them.

The resulting roundtables have pulled hundreds of community leaders together in places such as Grand Junction, Granby, and Steamboat Springs in the past year to discuss issues such as ballot reform.

The results surprised even Brown.

In Steamboat, Brown and his group were able to get a 98 percent agreement rate from 129 participants on five subset consensus recommendations on the presented issue of ballot reform.

"Getting agreement on these issues is the key to getting senators to listen," Brown said. "I don't know of a senator that could ignore a 90 percent agreement. These decisions reflect the collective that the state should be listening to."

So far, the roundtable testing is going "beyond expectations" for Brown, but he said critics are unimpressed with the results of such an easy and generally agreeable subject such as ballot reform.

The real test for Brown's campaign will be on more divided subjects such as health care reform and economic recovery.

"The skeptics are out there, but how do you argue against (the results)?" he said. "What else can we do but this? There are not many other options … and we can't afford to keep doing what we're doing."

Critics are often the problem, Brown said, not only with his roundtable idea, but in the grand scheme of political influence.

Often the "squeaky wheels" are the most extreme and loudest voices being heard while the majority of others' struggle to be heard over the clamor, he said.