I am a County Commissioner in La Plata County, Colorado who wanted to make a bold move and I did so last Friday. After many weeks of nausea, sweaty palms and furrowed brow I walked into the county clerk's office and checked the box next to "unaffiliated" on my requested form.
I remember my hand shaking as I filled out the paper and gave it to the clerk. I had heard everything from the flat out "You're going to loose if you run for office again" to "You're ruining your career" and then finally the "Good for you", which always makes me a little uneasy when its said in a certain tone. Another thing that I heard from people--honestly, more often than anything else was: "Its about time we had someone willing to make a change". I do have to say that come Friday night I had a smile on my face that came from finding myself a little bit more, even when I didn't even know I was looking.
I also thought back to my campaign and the confusion and dismay I felt when I was told my "universe" (political term for who I want to contact as a potential vote) was limited to Democrats, Unaffiliated and a few Republican Women. I thought it was strange that my universe seemed small and confined. Now, could my universe have just increased with a little checked box? That seemed very liberating, not to mention exciting.
This is is my first blog experience---I have never contributed to a blog in any way prior to my inaugural venture this evening. I thought about creating a blog in connection with my decision to move from being a registered democrat to an independent as an elected official. I wanted to have some sort of mechanism to have an ongoing dialogue with our community and here I landed. One thing I have wanted more of as an elected official is to hear from people. I know where to find the obvious groups and the sometimes predictable opinions---but what I want is your opinion and feedback and not just yours alone! Hopefully we can have more conversations that involve more of our community. They can be local, global and meaningful without having to attend another meeting in the same old way.
The thing that I am excited to do is to speak about my challenges and strengths related to leadership, especially with those of you who are on the receiving end of things. I think a lot about people and issues and want some way to just get it out of my head and closer to actually talking with others about it. I thought blogging might be the perfect venue to share some thoughts and ramblings on subjects. The bottom line is: I really want to get to know you a little bit better and I would bet that some of you may be a little curious from time to time about why I do what I do and why I make the decisions I make. In the long run, I hope to have a closer relationship with the people of La Plata County.
I truly think that for politicians to be more effective we need a stronger connection to the people we represent. My decision to become an independent was based in large part on what I was hearing from people--not just at the national level---but at every level, and how tired they (I, we) are of the same old red and blue rhetoric and the need for something different. I also knew that I was becoming more conscious of the different categories of response that are accepted as well as expected of elected officials within parties at times. Changing political parties was a leap of faith for me---and I hope for the community. Now comes the real test, do people really want more choices or is that just what they say?
What do you think?
Here is the link to the front page Durango Herald article announcing my switch: http://wbx.me/l/?p=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fdurangoherald.com%2Fsections%2FNews%2F2009%2F08%2F22%2FJoelle_Riddle_leaves_Democratic_Party%2F