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Posted: January 06, 2010

On major issues, Ritter’s record is mixed

But there's still time to leave a legacy of progress

Bart Taylor

We might learn more in the coming days about the reasons behind Gov. Bill Ritter's decision not to seek a second term. As ill-suited for the role as Ritter has often appeared, his chances to win again were good. And unless this story takes an ugly turn, Ritter remains a man of high character -- and for better or worse, character and integrity often decide today's elections.

But economic development is the lens through which business evaluates a governor, and on this score, Ritter's record is decidedly mixed. While his new energy agenda should pay off big for Colorado, other key issues have gone begging.

Colorado is in a full-blown water crisis. Little has done by way of strategic planning on a state level to address the infighting and un-enlightened self-interest that dominates the water discussion. Ritter cares deeply about education, yet higher education in Colorado teeters perilously on a cliff's edge, underfunded and under attack. Decisions early in his term have somewhat diminished Colorado's reputation as a business-friendly state. And outside of Denver, transportation challenges are acute. Are we closer to a workable solution to improve I-70 than we were three years ago? Arguably, no.

We ask the state's chief executive to leave behind a legacy of progress on big issues. Without the huge distraction of a messy campaign, perhaps the governor will utilize his considerable talents and take personal control of some of these issues to effect much needed change in his remaining time on the job.  

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Bart Taylor is the publisher of ColoradoBiz magazine. E-mail him at btaylor@cobizmag.com.

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