Even while the margins of victory narrowed in some cases, local voters, like voters across the nation, voted Tuesday to stay the course.
Only one incumbent candidate for county commissioner in any of the three local counties was defeated, and that defeated candidate, Pat Willits in Ouray County, had been recently appointed to fill a vacancy and lost to a former commissioner. Bottom line: Montrose County remains red, San Miguel remains blue and Ouray remains purple. As, indeed, the vote for the presidential race in each county confirms, with a decisive rejection of President Obama in Montrose, an equally decisive endorsement of him in San Miguel, and a narrow win for him in Ouray.
In Washington, the question of the next two years will be how Obama and House Speaker John Boehner will be able to reach agreement on enough of the issues that so sharply divide them, and us, to move the country forward.
You could interpret it as a kind of gridlock, with voters committed to their deepest political instincts. Or, just maybe, a bare majority of Americans believe that the nation is moving in the right direction. Although the economy remains sluggish four years into the Obama years, it is improving. Perhaps we recognize that slow growth is more sustainable than growth fueled by irrational exuberance and reckless speculation, which is what brought about the very crash that triggered the Great Recession, four years ago.
Looking in the crystal ball at the next four years, locally we are not likely to see a return of the exuberance and speculation the produced a disastrous real-estate bubble, and we should experience a steady improvement in our regional economy. With that, we can hope our local governments maintain a focus on sustainable growth: in Montrose continuing to revitalize downtown and attract new businesses and residents; in Ouray, continuing to seek an elusive balance between protecting both traditional Western individualism, with its commitment to private property rights, and a fragile environment; and in Telluride, finding ways to draw enough visitors year-round to sustain a community that depends on them for survival.
These are the fundamental issues our local elected officials will grapple with. Same as it ever was. Or, at least, same as it has been for at least the last couple of decades.