Paul James: Let the people vote
I’m in charge of running the petition to get a recreational cannabis measure on the municipal ballot, and I want to clear up a few misconceptions.
First and foremost, we are not petitioning just to allow recreational cannabis. As a lifelong Craigite, I’ve grown to love the area, and I love when people start getting involved with the community. For this reason, we are not filing this petition in an effort to force the city council to allow recreational cannabis, but merely to allow the ordinance to be on the municipal ballot in April, so everyone can have their voice heard in the voting booth. Should the measure fail there, I will put my energy elsewhere, but until we make it to the ballot, I will continue this fight, particularly considering our local economic climate and the dire need to diversify an economy we all depend on.
Another concern I have been hearing is from people who want to ensure the additional revenue is allocated properly. This is a concern I share. We’re moving at a good pace with our petition drive, and so far, we are on schedule to get the 739 signatures needed to make the ballot. Should we successfully complete this, the city council is guaranteed to add its own excise tax measure to the ballot to be voted on alongside the Committee to Grow Craig’s proposed ordinance. The best thing we can do, as a community, is attend those city council meetings and tell the Craig City Council where we want the money to go.
A few of us from the committee have been mulling the idea of writing our own tax proposal, though even if we do it, it would be a suggestion to the council and nothing more.
Personally — and several committee members agree with me — I would like to see a portion of the proceeds go to law enforcement. With all the thefts and break-ins (seriously, what kind of monster breaks into the Community Budget Center?), I believe it would be wise to direct some of the funding toward the Craig Police Department, possibly to hire another officer to help patrol areas where nefarious characters have been seen in high density.
However, I, either by myself or with a handful of people, probably wouldn’t be enough of a voice to make this happen, which is why we need to come together as a community to make sure the additional revenue gets to the place we believe Craig could benefit the most.
The third highest concern I have heard is that people who live in the county are upset they can’t vote on the matter. I agree completely. Unfortunately, I didn’t set up the government or the rules for elections. I also understand that, given the nature of the county we live in, decisions made in Craig have a tendency to affect the entirety of Moffat County, whether that’s raising taxes or trying to build a rec center.
I wish it were different, but this is the only channel we can go through to ensure that us getting the signatures puts this measure on the ballot; anything else is just asking permission or wishful thinking. I’ll close by saying this; signing our petition does not voice support for recreational cannabis — it voices your support for the community’s right to vote on the matter.
If you’re vehemently opposed to cannabis, your best bet to stop listening to me is to sign the petition and get to the voting booth in April. If you recognize the need to diversify our economy before a third of the Craig Station closes down in 2025, sign our petition and get to the voting booth in April.
I want to thank everyone for the huge showing of support we’ve received already, and I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday season.