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Ballot initiatives: Let the people vote

Updated: Jul 30

By Kimberly Murphy. Also published as a "Letter to the Editor" in the Daily Camera on July 27, 2020.


Five elected officials made it clear that their voices are more important than those of thousands of their constituents, members of our community who quite literally risked their lives to be heard.


Five elected officials ignored the advice of their legal counsel and obstructed the path identified to remedy staff’s mistakes. When an individual or institution exhibits a willingness to occupy power to manipulate direct democracy in favor of independent ideology, it is an abuse of power.


A council member weighing the substance of ballot measures against their leanings and beliefs (rather than seeking the most judicious resolution to a conceded failure) is certainly not as nefarious as a racist police officer, but I will march against the injustice both pose. Those in power must operate equitably or trust is gone and the social contract broken.


Five elected officials revealed their values: politics and authority over democracy and impartiality. Approaching principles of fairness and transparency as flexible in the face of competing objectives is problematic.


While it does not surprise me that erroneous guidance or ambiguous legalese might be exploited to engineer outcomes, I am amazed that prohibiting the electorate the chance to decide for themselves was deemed menacing enough for this degree of sacrifice. That the very body the initiative process is designed to circumvent is responsible for derailing it is almost poetic.


The improbable calamity of errors couldn’t be repeated, but there’s an upside. Whether legal challenges to defend the opportunity for our community to weigh in at the polls are successful or not, we’ve collectively witnessed dysfunction with implications surpassing the importance of any single ballot measure. The few we elected and entrusted to represent the many have demonstrated the weight our voices carry when they disagree.


— Kimberly Murphy

Boulder

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