The “2007 Progressive Experiment” in Longmont has failed. At least it’s been entertaining to watch and write about, but to the detriment of the city as a whole. We can’t say we didn’t give it a try, but this regressive Progressive majority on city council has proven to be a real loser of an idea and voters need to undo the mistake of 2007.To refresh memories, in 2007 Longmont had a block of candidates take over the majority of city council. This majority includes Sean McCoy, Brian Hansen, Sarah Levison, and Karen Benker – who actually was soundly defeated in her quest for Mayor, but unfortunately remained in office. Mr. Hansen and Ms. Levison squeaked in with less than a majority and mostly due to third candidates who split the vote. Mr. McCoy won by a majority, but Ms. Benker lost by a majority.Even to the bloc’s most strident supporters, they must agree these have been two very divisive and controversial years. They have also been two very unproductive years rife with costly lawsuits, dwindling tax revenues, and furloughed city employees. Our council meetings are often 4 hour marathons that end with bickering and indecision. Procrastination is their credo.
Therefore, a clean sweep and removal of all council members in office prior to 2008 needs to occur. Mary Blue is retiring, which is a shame as she’s been an exception and an exemplary representative. Gabe Santo’s joined the council in January 2008 and has often been the sole dissenting vote on some of the bloc’s more ridiculous maneuvers – and deserves to be retained in his at-large seat.
Unfortunately, Council members McCoy, Hansen, and Levison are not up for re-election. But they can be dealt with in 2 years, or sooner via recall. Candidates Fissinger, Benker, and Van Dusen are more of the same of the failed regressive Progressive majority we now find ourselves saddled with. Voters should learn from past mistakes and not repeat them with these candidates.
Mayor Lange, who I respect, admire, and have always supported and voted for in every race he’s even run, has tilted one too many times in favor of this failed bloc. The denied motion and second (from Santos and Blue, respectively) to end the losing battle with Firestone and LifeBridge was the straw that broke the camels back for me and many other citizens. When Firestone came to Longmont with an offer of the land that would meet Longmont’s request for this so-called buffer, which in reality is a red herring that doesn’t now nor will ever exist, Mayor Lange and this council turned them away, proving to me this was nothing more than an expensive turf war and an attempt to financially bleed Firestone and LifeBridge. I’m not a member of that church or a resident of Firestone, but this act was appalling.
Unlike other council members who have been downright rude to me in the presence of my children, Mayor Lange has indelibly left a positive impression on one of my sons to which we are eternally grateful. While I can’t support him in this race for the other reasons above, I will also not engage in mudslinging or negative attacks that might benefit his opponent, Bryan Baum, who I support.
The same cannot be said for Karen Benker. Some cities have elected donkeys, dogs, or hoboes to city council. I would back such a candidate in opposition to Ms. Benker. Alright, my tongue is slightly planted “in cheek” with that comment, but the actual sentiment is not too far off. Ms. Benker is basically the leader of the bloc, and as such, sets the tone for the bitter divisiveness the bloc embodies. A vote for her is a vote for the failed last two years. About the only thing Ms. Benker has on Katie Witt is her so-called experience. But this experience has not resulted in a better outcome for the citizens of Longmont.
I would also argue Ms. Benker’s “experience” when she was Ms. Witt’s age was probably similar to Ms. Witt’s now. Everybody has to start somewhere. Incumbency and a self-inflated resume shouldn’t be the main deciding factor in who’s more fit to serve. Sometimes a fresh outlook and differing life experiences breathe new life into an otherwise stale and stagnant situation. Unfortunately, this current council majority is worse than stagnation, it’s actually regressing.
So consider the past and the future when you cast your vote, and not some selfish allegiance of what you think a candidate is or isn’t. And there’s really no good reason not to vote, please exercise this right.