Soap Box

Smith, more than a cowboy hat

To the editor,

1) His leadership style is inclusive and effective, earning him prestigious awards from both state and federal agencies for his competence and diligence during the 416 Fire.

2) His excellent record of fiscal responsibility. Having the largest budget of any county agency, he has saved $2 million over three years! And he brought in $750,000 of new outside revenue at no cost to taxpayers. He also acquired over $250,000 worth of emergency equipment – at virtually no cost to the county.

3) He’s a Desert Storm veteran. He understands and upholds the Constitution of the United States. Not only the Second Amendment but the entire document!

The responsibility of this office requires more than a big cowboy hat and promises; it needs hard work, experience and proven leadership.

Vote for Sean Smith for Sheriff.

– Helen Kunz, Durango

We all deserve a voice on tax hike

To the editor,

On Aug. 21, I spoke at the City Council meeting in opposition of the forthcoming tax increase. I encourage everyone to watch minute 24 to 32 on Durango Government Television, DGOV.

In the past, the response I have received from city staff and city councilors when I suggested that our extremely high water rates were limiting local food production, decreasing property values and eliminating green space is “Where were you when we were originally discussing this issue?”

Now that I am at the table at the right time questioning the need for another sales and property tax, harassment and anger are being expressed since I have a differing opinion. This isn’t the Durango I grew up in. Everybody in this community deserves to have a voice, whether it is properly timed or contrary to city leaders.

– John Simpson, Durango

A renaissance of being respectful

To the editor,

Last week, when a Women’s U.S Open tennis final was nearly over, a famous figure, Serena Williams, had a major tantrum with a longtime umpire. She called him a liar, demanded an apology that was not deserved, her racquet shattered once it hit the ground, screamed her head off, and more. All this disgusting behavior took place in front of her opponent, age 20, and a world-wide audience.

Serena should have been escorted off the court, by present USTA rules and regulations, but she got to finish with a minor punishment and commercials in which she makes money off of were heavily played right up to the Men’s final today.

In the early 1900s, when my father, Johnny Hope-Doeg, won major tennis tournaments, thankfully he was modest with no hordes of silver trophies littering our living room. Civility was a must on the court or face suspension or get kicked off the court forever. Obviously, now, if you are “bankable” you are given the royal treatment despite bad behavior.

Unfortunately, today in sports, politics and even in the school classroom (where teachers hands are tied if little Billy or Betty bullies), there needs to be a Renaissance of Respectful Behavior.

Remember the Golden Rule: treat the person in front of you like you want to be treated. I am so thankful for an upbringing that required respect for one another and was able to not stoop so low to scream back at someone who recently verbally abused me.

– Sally Florence, Durango

Smith leads with honesty, integrity

To the editor,

We were affected, as most were, by the 416 Fire. It started about a mile from our home, and having just moved here from the Denver area in April, we were immediately concerned. We attended one of the first community information meetings held in Durango and were extremely impressed listening to Sheriff Smith address the crowd. He had control and command of a tense situation and seemed confident that everyone responsible for fighting this raging wildfire was doing their jobs without interference from other agencies.

We talked with Sean personally afterward, and since we’ve both been around law enforcement for many years (Wes was a Colorado State Trooper and coroner for Douglas County for 16 years), he impressed us with his knowledge of law enforcement and especially the La Plata County Sheriff’s office.

In addition, Julie has worked for over 15 years in Denver for a well-respected lobbyist who represents the county sheriffs of Colorado at our state Capitol. The lobbyist Peg Ackerman’s personal opinion of Sheriff Smith is that he’s smart, knowledgeable and manages his department honestly, with integrity and transparency and as a true leader. More recently we had a chat with officers of his department, and they are extremely supportive of him as a leader in a complicated profession.

We urge you to re-elect a proven leader.

– Julie and Wes Riber, Durango

An open letter to my GOP friends

To the editor,

I am speaking to those decent people who I don’t know, as well as some special folk, some of whom I’ve known my whole life. Yes, you friends, you know who you are. You are some of the finest people who call La Plata County home.

We have to talk. It won’t be an easy discussion. We need to talk about democracy, citizenship, responsibility, ethics and, most of all, about decency and morality. We all know too well the disagreements we’ve had over the years, some petty, some powerful, but our friendship was never about that, it was always about decency, morality and the golden rule.

We’ve spoken of politics and sometimes it divided us. Friends can disagree and still care for one another. But I think we can agree that it’s different this time. Yes, you are getting some things you’ve wanted for a long time, but at what cost? The Republican Party is led by a man no one could call decent or moral. I guess you can look past the “locker room talk,” the Playboy bunny, the porn star. I know you too well to believe that you didn’t cry when you saw children torn from their parents on the border of the greatest country the world has ever seen. Over 500 of these kids are still separated from their parents.

And then there are the wild places in Colorado, Arizona and Utah where I’ve seen you smile at the sunsets, the rivers, the mountain lakes. I’ve laughed and smiled with you in some of the most beautiful places on earth. I know you don’t believe they should be parceled and sold, polluted and defiled. We can reduce regulation without sullying our priceless mountains and deserts. Let’s work together.

So friends, my ask is a big one, help us to restore balance, decency and morality to our country. The heart of the American experiment is at risk; the ideals, the beauty, the freedom that used to comprise American exceptionalism. Vote Democrat this November.

– Patrick Owens, Durango