Trust is the foundation of any viable relationship
Kremmling, CO Colorado
Every meaningful relationship is built on trust. Trust is what defines the difference between a casual acquaintance and a friend. It is what helps a marriage survive after the infatuation stage runs its course.
A lack of trust is, to me, the single biggest obstacle we have in this country to ever having effective governance return. The level of mistrust we have for the people who govern is so pervasive that almost everything we hear is met with skepticism.
Test yourself this election season. Whenever you hear a commercial or listen to a debate, ask yourself how many times you trust the message as the gospel truth. Truthfully, the only messages we believe will be those delivered by people we trust. If we trust nobody, then it all becomes a pack of potential lies.
This November, the people in this state and this county will be asked to make monumental decisions. There are ballot issues designed specifically to appeal to our lack of trust. At their very core, Amendment 60, Amendment 61 and Proposition 101 are taking advantage of the general mistrust we have in government. If they pass, in my opinion, we will be throwing away the baby because we are trying to rid ourselves of the bathwater.
Thrown into that mix, in the western part of the county, will be a ballot initiative for the West Grand School District, asking people to approve a tax override measure.
Whenever you face an option like the one that will be presented to you at this next general election, I would ask that you at least consider what I believe to be the essence of governance in this country, particularly at the local level. We the people have decided we want things like roads, law enforcement, libraries, schools, snow removal, potable water, sewer treatment and fire protection.
It isn’t practical to have a town hall meeting every time we want to do something like put out a bid to pave a street, build a new government building or hire people to perform necessary tasks. We elect people to oversee that process and to take the time to make sure it is done in our best interest. We trust them to make rational decisions.
In over 20 years of attending what I estimate to be over 1,000 meetings in this county, I have rarely, if ever, seen anybody blatantly use the system to his or her own advantage. I have seen mistakes, I have seen decisions clouded by emotions, and I have seen decisions that were revealed as bonehead moves – in hindsight. I may be naive, but at the local level where officials are elected and usually not paid, I have seen tens of thousands of decisions, the vast majority of which I believe were based primarily on the best information available at the time.
My point is not that elected officials should be trusted without question. People we can’t trust should be removed from office. What I think is important is that we get to know the people whom we have elected to oversee the entities that provide the services we have decided are important. We elect those people to represent us and to make decisions that are in the best interests of our community.
Just because we may disagree with some of those decisions doesn’t necessarily mean our elected officials suddenly contracted a case of the stupids. Chances are pretty good they know more about the situation than the rest of us have had a chance to review. We don’t always have the time to do the necessary research so we must either trust or mistrust those whom we place in that position.
What I like to tell people is that almost any board member is going to act according to his or her character. If you know that person to be honest, thoughtful, considerate and rationale in their private lives, chances are pretty good he or she is going to exhibit those same qualities in their public roles. The beauty of a board of directors is there isn’t one person dictating what should be done. A board has five to seven members who bring their unique perspective, experiences and opinions to the table. Plus, a majority of them must agree on a decision before it can legally take place.
Fortunately, on the local level, the public generally knows the members of any board pretty well. The same person that opens the door for you at the post office or pays for your cup of coffee is probably going to exhibit those same characteristics in the boardroom.
It has been my experience in this county that our elected officials almost always make decisions they believe to be in the best interests of the people who elected them to their office. That is precisely what we elect them to do. On the part of the public, I believe, there has to be at least a willingness to trust.
“You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you don’t trust enough.” – Frank Crane
– Larry Banman is a member of the West Grand School Board of Directors
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