All I want to do is serve: words that fit for Mayor Dave Bowman.

“All I want to do is serve the citizens of New York.” Those famous words are from Robert Kennedy at Columbia University when he was running for a senate seat to represent New York in 1964. The answer came when Kennedy’s motive for running for the seat in New York, as opposed to Massachusetts which was considered his home state, were questioned.

Bowman has received some heat from social media keyboard warriors for promoting the Montrose Summer Music Series at the end of a city council meeting. There are claims of a conflict of interest because the warriors believe Bowman is making money off the concert series.

And he is, a little. As Bowman stated in a story published this past Wednesday in the Montrose Daily Press and in a column I wrote the day he was named mayor, Bowman makes a whopping $3,200 a year on this endeavor. The City of Montrose signed on for a $5,000 sponsorship and a willingness to empty the trash after each of the four events. MSMS pays for the use of the city-owned Black Canyon Golf Course.

The concerts themselves are awesome. While I don’t give the keyboard warriors much attention, I would hate to see anything threaten what has become a mainstay summer event for family and friends around the area.

These aren’t local cover bands playing in a park. They are legit artists from across the country that come to Montrose to entertain us. They don’t come cheap. Typically, neither would the promoter who leads this endeavor. Bowman, the president of the non-profit MSMS does. I doubt the $3,200 even covers his expenses, much less his time to obtain sponsors, book the acts and all the other details that need to be worked out. I could easily see a promoter wanting $10,000 per concert.

The warriors were also critical of Mayor Pro-Tem Barbara Bynum for not recusing herself from a city council vote that allocated funds of around $250,000 to an investment group that is renovating the space above The Vine restaurant. One of her husband’s co-workers at Western Slope Orthopedics is an investor. The question is, “Where is the line drawn when it comes to a local politician stepping out of the room for discussion and vote. A relative’s co-worker?”

We’re a small town. Citizens are not lining up around the corner to throw their hat in the ring for local political offices. Plus, it’s going to be nearly impossible for those holding office to effectively do their job if we expect them to step away when they have to vote for an ordinance every time it may affect someone they know.

“I can’t vote on this as it may affect my fifth cousin twice removed.”

That’s silly.

The other line that hasn’t been very long is the line for citizen comments during the public input portion of local government council meetings. Nope, it’s easier and safer to sit in front of a keyboard and make uninformed accusations.

It’s really the equivalent of sitting in the stands and booing the players on your home team. Who would want to be on that team?

If someone has an issue with a policy or ordinance coming before the city council or county commissioners, instead of booing from afar on some obscure Facebook post, they should hop off the computer and drive down to a meeting and participate. Let the home team know you aren’t happy by using your speaking voice and words. And, when you participate in local government in that way, you’re more likely to have your voice heard.

My fear is that in this kind of climate of engagement we currently have, fewer and fewer qualified people are going to want to run for office.

Councilors and commissioners often aren’t doing the job for the pay. And if any of them truly are corrupt, which is something we’ve all seen before, then we do need to hold them accountable.

Maybe to the uninformed eye, the optic of the mayor holding up a poster and promoting an event to which he is tied isn’t the best. But I believe Bowman and Bynum’s intentions are pure and their hearts in the right place. I believe that all they want to do is serve the citizens of Montrose.

Dennis Anderson is group publisher for Wick Communications, Alaska and Colorado. He can be reached via email at dennis.anderson@frontiersman.com.

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