Oct 302008
Authors: Alex Stephens

One of the most important and, ironically, least understood offices being vied for this election is that of county commissioner.

While Obama preaches “change” at a national level, the ugly truth is that the further up the chain you go, from local to national, the harder it becomes to alter the way government works.

The president will still have to negotiate with Congress and do the bidding of Pelosi and Reed lest they become the dreaded lame duck.

Real, discernable change happens at the local levels of politics. You’ll literally be able to taste this kind of change in the quality of water you drink.

County commissioners are responsible for land use planning and prioritizing the budget for public heath services, such as water quality services and road repair.

Any institution that receives taxpayer funds — such as hospitals, fire departments, waste and recycling centers, roads, bridges, parks and even the DMV — is subject to the scrutiny of the county commissioner.

Worried that the stagnant water in the nearby park might contain West Nile-infected mosquitoes?

Like the idea of child protection services, of senior aid services?

Do you enjoy floating down the Poudre River?

How about restaurants — glad they are held to a level of food safety inspection?

The county commissioner is responsible for all these things in addition to some others you would never think of.

They effectively control the quality of your life. Some past county commissioners catered to corporate interests instead of yours. For example, a few years ago, the county budget was changed to pull millions of dollars from road and bridge repair to instead pay for a new road that was highly sought after by developers.

One of Fort Collins’ most remarkable features is currently being threatened by such interests. Corporate developers are pressing for the passage of the Glade Reservoir project, which would dam up the Poudre River and enable more land to be developed.

Fort Collins is growing three times faster than the national average for cities, but growth comes with the price of, essentially, land destruction.

The Poudre River not only provides recreation to everybody, but is an essential part of our environment.

Without the river, Northern Colorado river basins would be devastated, dramatically changing natural habitats as well as threatening the livelihood of farmers, just so more people can migrate to the Fort Collins area.

If you think that’s a pretty bad trade off, you can help stop it by deciding who becomes county commissioner.

Roger Hoffmann is running for county commissioner to protect our quality of life and environment.

He adamantly opposes the development and damming of the Poudre River, but importantly, has also proven himself to be a true advocate for the people.

Over the past 24 years he has been a leader, activist, and organizer for the community.

He has stood up against greedy corporations that do not have the people’s best interests in mind, only their own, such as when over 700 million public dollars were to be spent on destroying farm land in Loveland in order for developers to get what they wanted — Hoffmann opposed it.

Hoffmann’s most important feature lies in his sense of sustainability — the ability to maintain the environment and way of life for future generations.

Through the use of green energy technology we can not only preserve the environment but also create jobs that our struggling economy desperately needs.

Change happens most at the local level, and the decision of who becomes county commissioner is entirely in our hands.

If you have ever enjoyed what the Poudre River has to offer, felt that the communities’ interests should be put above profiteering corporations, or believe in a sustainable future that should be preserved for the next generation, vote Roger Hoffmann.

Alex Stephens is a junior political science major. His column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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