Forget the debate —  know the local issues

What do we really expect to learn Monday night?

Is there anything Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton can do to change anybody’s mind at this stage of the campaign?

Nevertheless, the first presidential debate signals that we’re in the home stretch of the least inspirational campaign in modern history. We can be thankful for that, at least.

Recent polling shows voters are sour on both candidates. A new Associated Press GfK poll shows 44 percent of voters are fearful of a Clinton presidency, far less than the 56 percent who say the same of Trump.

“That deep disdain for both candidates prompts three-quarters of voters to say that a big reason they’ll be casting their ballot is stop someone, rather than elect someone,” the AP summarized.

Former presidential aspirant Sen. Ted Cruz embodies this national dyslexia. After calling Trump a pathological liar, “utterly immoral,” “a narcissist,” “a bully,” and a “serial philanderer” in May hours before ending his campaign, Cruz announced Friday that he’s supporting Trump because “by any measure Hillary Clinton is wholly unacceptable.”

Given this “lesser of evils” national mindset, what are debate viewers even looking for? Assurances that the candidate they’re hoping to stop isn’t as bad as they’ve been led to believe? That may tamp down the angst, but it’s not likely to flip votes.

The mounting fear understandably makes the presidential debate a high-interest spectacle. But as we’ve cautioned for several election cycles, don’t lose sight of what’s at stake on Election Day. The outcomes of local races and statewide ballot measures are far more likely to have life-altering impact than the presidential race.

Look no further than proposed measures that address health-care issues. A cigarette tax would raise revenue for anti-smoking programs and other health-related initiatives. Amendment 69 would create the state’s own health-care system. A medical aid-in-dying measure would impact how we deal with end-of-life issues in Colorado.

Voters will also decide whether to raise the minimum wage, which could have sizable economic consequences.

We’ll tell readers where we stand on the nine statewide ballot measures (we’ve already weighed in on Amendment 71) and endorse candidates for statewide and local office in the days leading up to the mailing of ballots.

We urge voters not to be so consumed with opposing Trump or Clinton that they fail to study the ballot measures or overlook the qualifications of the five candidates vying for two seats on the Mesa County Board of Commissioners.


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