On the evening of November 4, 2008 I was making the rounds of election night receptions. Doug Bruce had petitioned two initiated ordinances onto the ballot and the usual coalition had rallied, even in a crashing economy, to oppose them. Barak Obama was sweeping the nation; his coattails were ushering in massive majorities in both the US House and Senate. The rise of democrat votes had also reached down into state house elections. The election results that evening showed Obama getting 40% of the vote in El Paso County. Not even Mark Udall, running for an open US Senate seat, polled as well as Obama in El Paso County.
At one of the receptions, I crossed paths with Mike Merrifield, who had just won reelection to his fourth and final term in the State House. I recall remarking to Merrifield that this election would swing the pendulum in American politics about as far to the left as it can go. Merrifield’s response was that the pendulum was just getting back to center. I disagreed, and we left it at that.
Let’s fast forward two and an half years. In a week the ballots will finally be counted in the mayoral runoff election. I expect we will see the pendulum swing about as far to the right as it can in local politics. Will City Council be a worthy parry for the Mayor’s office? It is only out of a frank and reasoned exchange of ideas that we are going to find our way out of the budget problems facing the city. To be a worthy balance for the mayor’s office, the council members will have to work much harder that in the past, devoting their own time and resources to the exercise.