What if a newspaper makes what seems like a small error, but which has an impact on an election?
We may find out in this year's election for a San Miguel County Commissioner. A page one story published in this paper on Oct. 11 implied that incumbent Commissioner Art Goodtimes, a member of the Green Party facing stiff competition from two opponents, Democrat Dan Chancellor and Republican Kevin Kell, supports the proposed Piñon Ridge uranium mill as a job creator. In fact, Goodtimes staunchly opposes both the Piñon Ridge uranium mill specifically, and nuclear energy development generally, even though he did support a settlement agreement whereby San Miguel County the Town of Telluride took a step back in their legal challenge to the plant's approval.
The Watch on Oct. 11 paraphrased Goodtimes hailing the settlement agreement because it will reduce the county's legal and financial exposure at the same time it ensures the county's ability to participate in future discussions about how to protect the county from blowing dust, radionuclide deposition and water quality damage if the mill is ultimately approved. Goodtimes also noted (a separate thought that should have been in a separate paragraph) that many of his constituents in the West End of San Miguel County favor the development of the mill as a job creator. But Goodtimes never said he supports the mill, for that reason or for any reason.
Now, however, some supporters of Goodtimes's opponents are using the mistaken implication in The Watch story to accuse Goodtimes of supporting the plant.
It is no secret that Goodtimes is a longtime Watch columnist (on leave now, during the campaign). While The Watch rarely makes editorial endorsements of candidates for office, and is not planning on doing so this election cycle, it is especially unfortunate that an editing error here might unfairly cost him votes. Yes, I am voting for Art, who in my opinion has always thought deeply about the issues that come before him, and is especially sensitive to the importance of balancing competing values in the transitioning West. There really is no space to Art's left, which is to say to his environmentalist side, for his opponents to occupy. If he is accused of being willing to seek common ground or compromise with those on the opposite side of an issue, that is precisely one of the why reasons I support him.