Editorial: The fight’s not over
The 2018 midterm election is now in the history books; after months of rancorous debate and campaign rhetoric, the candidates have either won or lost, and the issues have either been embraced or rejected.
And that includes Moffat County Referred Measure 1A.
We won’t mince words; we were bitterly disappointed by the outcome on this issue. Measure 1A would have ensured Moffat County Libraries and the Museum of Northwest Colorado would continue their vital services to this community into the foreseeable future, free from the capricious stroke of the budgetary axe. And, it would have done this in return for a pretty insignificant increase in taxes. As we editorialized last month, we saw 1A as the most sensible path to preserving these two treasured local institutions.
But, the majority of county voters disagreed with us, and we respect and accept their decision.
Our purpose here is not to demonize a choice we happen not to agree with; instead, it is to propose a path forward in light of that choice.
During both the lead-up to and aftermath of Tuesday’s vote, we caught a glimpse of the reasons so many of our neighbors felt 1A was not a good idea.
Some seemed to express opposition to any tax increase, whatsoever, for any reason, whatsoever.
Others said county and city leaders had not done enough to divert existing funds to the libraries and museum before approaching voters with a mill levy.
Still others stated they never visit the library or museum, anyway, and questioned why they should even care.
Yet, one of the most telling comments we read following 1A’s defeat went something like this:
“A vote against Measure 1A was not a vote against the libraries or the museum; it was a vote against higher taxes when other options might be available,” and we believe that wholeheartedly.
If the question had been: “Shall Moffat County starve the Moffat County Libraries and the Museum of Northwest Colorado of funding until they die,” we seriously doubt the measure would have received a single “yes” vote.
This tells us most in the community share our conviction that the libraries and museum are irreplaceable community assets and that their closures would be a horrific blow to the economic, educational, and cultural well-being of Moffat County.
If this is the case — and we sincerely believe it is — then we challenge ourselves and our neighbors to turn our noble words into tangible action.
As we acknowledged, the 1A question is settled, but the financial crisis facing the libraries and the museum was not settled with it — on the contrary, it was exacerbated. If we fail to act, both will eventually be forced to close their doors.
The bottom line is this: If we truly value the enrichments we enjoy by having a vibrant, active library system and a world-class western museum in our community, then it is we who must fight to preserve them.
What can we do?
We can attend and speak up at meetings of our local governing bodies. We can call our local leaders. We can write letters. We can let the Powers that Be know, in no uncertain terms, that allowing the libraries and the museum to wither and die on the vine is not an option we’re willing to accept. And, if we still see no meaningful action, we can fire our leaders at the ballot box and hire new ones who will fight for the things we hold dear.
But if we do none of this — if we instead simply give up on two community treasures like the libraries and the museum — then we WILL lose those treasures.
Even worse, we’ll deserve to.
What often begins as a hobby to pass the time by creating something appealing to the artist or appealing to the eye, to the ear, something tasty or something — anything, can often flower into a real source of income that can help working families in rural economies like ours.