Local governments must ‘dare greatly’

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly ... who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” — Theodore Roosevelt

As we enter a new year facing many of the same challenges of the past few, we hope our local elected officials will prove to be people willing to “dare greatly” — to imagine a vision for this community that involves something more than hunkering down and hoping the energy boom returns.

Any business that has no vision for the future, no business plan, is likely to be spinning its wheels, not improving its products or attracting new customers.

The same is true of communities. Leaders must have some idea of where they want their community to go and how they want to get there. Otherwise they stagnate.

Colorado, as a state, is not stagnating. According to just-released census data, Colorado saw the fifth-largest population gain in the country in 2013. But little of that growth seems to be ending up in Mesa County, based on sales tax figures, although other communities on the Western Slope are doing better.

Denver has pushed to become the top convention city in the country. It has one of the best mass transit systems and one of the best performing arts centers. One doesn’t have to like everything about Denver to realize that its vision of an energetic, vibrant city has been attracting young, highly educated residents, numerous high-tech and forward-thinking companies and a growing array of cultural and recreational amenities.

Here at home, one need look no further than Colorado Mesa University to find an organization that began articulating a vision more than 10 years ago to be a top-flight institution of higher education. Its success can be seen in the impressive changes in its physical appearance and the growing numbers of students, as well as the additions to its curriculum and staff. Importantly, CMU continues to update its vision for the future.

What do the Mesa County commissioners, members of the Grand Junction City Council and District 51 school board members envision for their organizations? What about the elected officials in Fruita and Palisade?

It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and criticize. Although newspapers are by their nature observers, they can also be authors of and advocates for endeavors that help propel a community. The Daily Sentinel has assumed that role since its earliest days, and we will continue to do so with projects and policies we believe should be part of our community vision.

We challenge our local elected officials to become champions for ideas to move this community forward. Let them not be among the people Roosevelt called “those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

We hope to see leaders step forward this year to guide a community adrift.


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