Thanks, Ridgway, for your partnership

Dear Editor,
For the past three years I have served on our Town Council, from which I will step down as of July 15. In order to better address health concerns of my family, we will be moving to Durango. It is a new life chapter for us, starting with a mix of loss and gain, heaviness and hope.  
When I first placed my name on the ballot in 2011, after only a year in the community,
I was surprised to win a seat, and then pleased to receive a warm welcome by Council members. I soon learned that my initiation as a public representative had little to do with my notion of “politics.”
The term comes from the Greek word “politikos,” meaning “of, for, or relating to citizens.” This definition comes closer to my experience on the Council: open-minded thinking, respectful dialogue, creative problem solving and happy envisioning – for and
with local people. While I confess to initially wondering about the party affiliations of
my colleagues, I soon stopped. It didn’t matter. Each member demonstrated ability
to take other perspectives, change positions with new information and find middle ground, a zone of progress in which dialogue can become constructive action and visions can develop into plans. The team got things done, respectfully, without interference from personal agendas or “party politics,” even with an electoral change
of members and mayor. I witnessed that our Ridgway “politikos” was nothing like the tiresome national model of rigid divisions, adversarial debate and progress gridlock. We were evolving, slow but steadily, with confidence, generous spirit and humility,
in the green zone.
“Ridgway is rocking,” I hear neighbors say. At a council workshop this spring we discussed our trend of increasing volunteers, the active engagement of committees
and the town’s movement towards a “tipping point,” perhaps a phase in social evolution where a community begins to rock, street by street, creating a happening space, a fertile environment to “think outside” and grow -- on all sides. There is something happening in Ridgway. Not just with our downtown revitalization and creative district initiatives, but with expansion of our water storage, bike trails, solar panels, Internet access and community events, even with a new sister community in El Salvador, hopefully to rock with us, stretching our global awareness. We are heading in the right direction, with strategic, sustainable and spirited steps.
As I leave the council I carry my own list of wishes, a few worth advocacy. Having
lived here during my daughter’s adolescence, I hope to see a Ridgway Youth Center
one day, a safe and engaging place to help teens constructively navigate their transition to adulthood. And having rented for years, I also hope to see more affordable housing, not only for regional neighbors who would prefer not to commute through our town, but for limited income families and small business owners. Lastly, I hope that more community members, particularly women and citizens from underrepresented ethnic groups, will seize the unique opportunity, follow the service calling and seek office
as council representatives. In fact, right now we need such a person to step up and
fill my open position. And I can affirm that you will receive more in life learning
and personal satisfaction than you will give in time and energy.
Above all, a many warm thanks for your partnership, trust, respect, open minds, inspiration and dedication. You will have a friend and ally on the other side of our beloved San Juans. Sincerely,
Jim Kavanaugh