EAGLE, Colorado - From marketing to medical marijuana, six Eagle Town Board candidates and one mayor hopeful sounded off about community issues in an Eagle Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event Thursday.
The Eagle municipal election will be held Tuesday and features a field of seven candidates for three open Town Board seats and two candidates for mayor.
Incumbent Mayor Ed Woodland sent his regrets for Thursday's Meet the Candidates event. Eagle Town Board member Scott Turnipseed told the audience Woodland was called out of town because his father had to undergo surgery this week.
"Ed wishes he could be here, but he had a pressing family emergency," Turnipseed said.
Also missing was candidate Skyler Mitchell. But the remaining field of candidates - Jeremy Cossette, John King, Joe Knabel, Anne McKibbin, Brandi Resa and Max Schmidt - and mayor candidate Yuri Kostick responded to a set of four questions from the chamber moderators and a number of queries from audience members.
"What is the single most important issue facing Eagle over the next four years?" launched the evening.
"I think jobs and revenue are always important," Resa said.
She also cited a need for Eagle to reach out to its residents.
"I think getting people engaged again is critical," she said.
McKibben said fiscal concerns are Eagle's top priority.
"It's about jobs. It's about getting businesses here and keeping businesses here," she said.
Noting that long-time Eagle Town Manager Willy Powell is nearing retirement, Joe Knabel said choosing the next town administrator is a top priority.
"Willy has 25-plus years of experience here, and that's a wealth of knowledge that's not easily replaced," he said.
King predicted Eagle "will continue to be bombarded with substandard development projects."
"We can afford to wait to get projects that have benefits to the town," King said.
Cossette said the town needs to increase its sales tax revenues, "so we can continue to have the services we expect and have had over the past few years."
Schmidt agreed that fiscal responsibility is the town's top priority.
Kostick prefaced his remarks by saying his sympathies were with Woodland as he handles his family issues. As for the top priority, he cited the Eby Creek Road improvement project that will include construction of roundabouts and additional lanes.
"I think that will be the most important issue over the next four years because that is our way into town," he said.
The candidates sounded off on Eagle's need to generate more sales tax revenue with hopefuls Kostick, Resa and King stating their opposition to the Eagle River Station project (a large commercial-residential development proposed on the east end of town that will be the subject of a May 22 community referendum) and McKibben and Knabel voicing support. Cossette did not directly address the ERS proposal but suggested the community needs to take advantage of the thousands of cars that pass by Eagle on Interstate 70 every day. Schmidt said the town needs to inventory what space is already available as it considers new business expansion.
All of the candidates were supportive of Eagle's new marketing fee, which will generate an estimated $100,000 annually, and complimentary of how the community weathered the recent national recession. Resa and King criticized the current board for not reaching out to residents.
Dieneka Mazanares, of Eagle's sole medical-marijuana dispensary, said earlier this year town residents voted to allow the operation. She asked if the candidates would support that decision.
The hopefuls responded that as long as the business stayed in compliance with its special-use permit, they would support keeping the operation open. McKibben, noting that she supported legalization of marijuana, pointed out that it is still a federal offense to use and sell marijuana and voiced concerns that the current system in Colorado is in conflict with federal law.
Finally, the candidates were asked what they would want written on their tombstones as they contemplated their bids for public office. Here's what they said:
Resa: "She worked her ass off."
McKibben: "She left the town a better place than when she found it."
Knabel: "He loved his family and cared about Eagle and wanted to make it a better place."
King: "He was straight with people."
Cossette: "Family first. He made sure the town stayed viable."
Schmidt: "He was an asset to the community."
Kostick: "He loved his family and brought people together."