EDWARDS — The school board president kicked off the 2014 political season Monday when she announced she’s running for Eagle County commissioner.
Jeanne McQueeney, a Democrat, is running for the District 3 commissioner seat, which represents Eagle’s Eby Creek Mesa neighborhood, Gypsum, Dotsero, El Jebel and Basalt. Current commissioner Sara Fisher is term limited and the seat is up for grabs in the November election.
“I want to help make Eagle County a place where families can thrive, that our kids can come back to and enjoy the life they’ve come to love,” McQueeney said during Monday’s announcement.
McQueeney has served on the school board for seven years and been the board president the last two years. She said she brings her skills as a collaborator to the race.
“I believe we can solve our problems with collaboration, by pulling the right people together,” she said. “I have skills in collaboration, leadership and planning. I think these are some of the right attributes for the job.”
As school board president, McQueeney helped shepherd the school district through two years of budget cuts, including a series of heated public meetings that ended with 90 school district job cuts.
“I learned that you have to get the right people in the room,” she said.
She serves on the board of the Eagle River Youth Coalition and Wayfinders, a safety net group created around kids in middle school and high school making poor choices.
She runs Early Childhood Partners, a nonprofit that helps coordinate goals, activities and resources for early childhood educators, including parents of young children.
She and husband Henry McQueeney have lived in the valley for 23 years. Jeanne is originally from Long Island, New York, and lived in New Mexico for six years before settling in the valley.
“My career has always been about equality. The boards I sit on have been about making equality and making things better for a wide variety of residents,” she said.
She said a big part of that is a strong local economy and jobs that pay a living wage, while protecting the environment that makes the mountain lifestyle possible. “Growth has created a such a disparity that people are working so many jobs they can’t enjoy the beauty of our wonderful valley,” she said.
She said the spirit exhibited by Vail’s pioneers and their willingness to help one another is something the county needs to embrace.
“We need to be a community that exhibits that spirit, that people reach out to help one another,” she said.
The decision to run for the Board of Commissioners is not recent, she said.
She says she’s been thinking about this since last February and was approached by several people when former commissioner Jon Stavney resigned to become Eagle’s town manager. However, her Eby Creek Mesa neighborhood is not in that district. But she does live in District 3.
While county commissioners are elected by the entire county, they must live in their district.
She said she does not expect to be the only Democratic candidate.
“I have no doubt there will be a primary. I think it strengthens the party to have good candidates and that as a party we’ll be stronger for it,” she said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.