It was no fun being around Kandi Buckland on election night.
Buckland, acting administrator of El Paso County's health department, was waiting with other county leaders and elected officials as returns came in for County Question 1A. The 1-cent sales tax measure would have provided a sustained cash infusion for the health department, the sheriff's office and other local agencies working on public health and safety.
But voters said "no," and Buckland's sad look that night suggested she understood better than the rest of us exactly what their decision meant. The implications became clearer to the general populace in late November, when the health department announced it will eliminate nearly 40 FTEs (full-time equivalents) and cut back on multiple programs.
The knife dug deepest for a 40-year-old program designed to control the spread of STDs in our community. Come Jan. 1, the program is gone (see cover story).
That cut might seem OK to people who think STDs are someone else's problems. But physicians and many public health experts say not so fast: One youthful fling could lead to a lifetime of reproductive problems. As the community's STD rate goes up and it almost certainly will so will the chances that a friend or loved one will be among the affected.