Political division has seeped into every function of our society. As our country navigates social, health and economic waters never previously explored, partisanship continually crops up exerting undue influence. Political influence has driven solutions and compromise off the table, creating a division that paints success as only attainable at the demise of the opposing viewpoint. We live in a time where political polarization is a tool used to divide, enflame and turn us against our neighbors. “If you’re not with us, then you are against us.” This mentality not only stifles progress but creates barriers that prevent compromise.
It is in the shadow of this pervasive national backdrop that we should take solace in our local political structure. We are lucky in San Juan County to have non-partisan local governance that is not beholden to the financial and ideological influence that partisan politics inputs into decision making. The wisdom of those who drafted our County Charter envisioned the need for impartial representation, driven by community concern, not political affiliation.
Unlike in many neighboring counties, our legislators are free from partisan affiliation. Through this design, our local legislators can work without consideration of or influence from parties. Perhaps more importantly, the voices of residents are equally heard by our representatives regardless of personal, political beliefs. Inevitably there will be issues for which we hold opposing viewpoints, but the elimination of a partisan filter removes one unnecessary obstruction in achieving compromise.
As we head into what is perhaps the most tumultuous national election in recent history, it is important to step back and remember that our local election is not about political division. Our community is not defined by politics, but instead by our common focus on providing for the good of one another, the environment and the economy. While our discussions of local policy and legislation are sure to stir emotion and cause disagreement, as citizens and voters, we must continue to demand that our local leaders maintain the distance from party affiliation. There is neither a “D” or an “R” in “San Juan County.” Let’s keep it that way.