Vail Daily Endorsement: Layman for county commissioner
October 31, 2012
The endorsement for the District 1 seat on the Eagle County Board of Commissioners puts us in a bit of a pickle.
This three-way race has Democrat Jill Ryan, Republican Jeff Layman and independent Dale Nelson running to replace current commissioner Peter Runyon, who can’t run for another term due to term-limit legislation.
All three candidates have their strengths, and all are good people, but our endorsement ultimately goes to Layman.
To both his credit and detriment, Layman has spent virtually his adult life as a public employee.
On one hand, Layman’s address book is already loaded with the names and numbers of almost everyone in the county he’ll deal with as a commissioner, and he has as good a foundation of knowledge about a county commissioner’s job as anyone who isn’t already in the job can.
His experience on the Vail Police Department, Avon Police Department, Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and his most recent job as Eagle-Vail community manager has given him in-depth experience in the workings of local government.
But that long career as a public employee may not provide the breadth of experience with the private sector we’d like to see.
Unlike a lot of public employees, Layman’s experience has included service as a patrol car-driving police officer, a job that provides an up-close-and-personal look at just about every shade of the human condition.
Ryan’s public service has been mostly in administration, and we frankly wonder if she would be able to make decisions that could affect the livelihoods of people who she’s worked with.
She’s also been vague about just what she’d be willing to cut out of the county’s budget, while Layman has been able to identify several specific items the county could probably live without if necessary.
In fact, Layman essentially put himself out of work through his contributions to a project to cut the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office budget a couple of years ago.
Nelson, the independent candidate in the race, is enthusiastic, and his zeal to help rebuild the county’s economy is real. We also applaud the hard work he’s done to get himself on the ballot, no small task for an independent candidate.
Maybe it’s because of his opponents that Nelson’s knowledge of how county government works seems, well, shallow. But there it is. We wonder how long Nelson would take to get himself up to speed with the ins and outs of the organization.
Finally, there’s this, which is important to some people, less so to others:
If elected, Layman would join current commissioner Sara Fisher and, if re-elected, Jon Stavney, as people who view their elected office as their full-time jobs.
That sometimes leads to micromanagement.
If done right, though, commissioners set policy and step back, then become involved in boards, commissions and discussions outside the valley’s borders. Those commissioners can be effective representatives of the county’s interests.
For all those reasons, we believe Layman is the best of this group of candidates, and we’d expect him to serve Eagle County well if elected.
Vail Daily Editorial Board