Elected to the Durango City Council as an independent voice, it has been my privilege to serve the people of Durango for the last four years. Participating in municipal government and formulating public policy has been a fulfilling life experience I shall never forget.
Upon election, I anticipated that I would be a different kind of councilor - one who would provide legislative oversight, question the staff's rationale and zealously protect the public's right to know. I had, however, never anticipated the personal attacks and verbal abuse that have continued throughout my term.
Many residents believed the election of 2007 would bring a professional, proactive council that, as promised, would protect Twin Buttes, adopt a critical ridgeline ordinance and a long overdue public facilities ordinance. Many residents also believed the new council would rein in the unbridled growth that threatens the character of our community. After two years of political posturing, no real progress has been made on these pivotal issues.
As Durango's population increases, so do demands on city services and infrastructure, creating a complexity of issues requiring more council due diligence than ever - yet shielding certain senior staff members from accountability and maintaining the status quo appears to be a higher council priority.
The concept of representative government was founded on the principle that an elected body is charged with acting in the people's interest. My experience, however, has been that City Council authority has been compromised, that direction flows in reverse, and that meaningful policy decisions are subverted by the drama of sloganeering and acquiescing to an entrenched senior staff.
As the possibility grew dim that other independent, reform-minded candidates would emerge, it became clear that continuing on an unfriendly council as a minority voice in support of the public interest has ceased to be a worthwhile life experience.
It is fair to say that since Twin Buttes, the politics of intimidation and hostility that dominates today's council is not an encouraging atmosphere for elective office.
With deep regret, I will not be a candidate for re-election to the Durango City Council.
Renee Parsons, Durango