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Here are the biggest Eagle County special districts holding May 2 elections

November isn’t the only election season. May brings elections for special districts, and those votes will be held on May 2.

November elections tend to be consolidated on one ballot, with votes counted by the Eagle County Clerk and Recorder’s Office. Special district elections are more specialized. Some districts run their own elections, while other districts use private firms to run elections and count votes.

There are more than 70 special districts in Eagle County alone. Some are large, in both population and geography. Others can represent just one subdivision, and have only a few voters. But there are relatively few districts holding elections this spring.

Here’s a look at some of the larger districts and what they’re doing:

Fire districts

This Eagle River Fire Protection District district, which runs from the top of Tennessee Pass to Wolcott — but excludes Vail — has two director seats available. But the only people running are incumbents Clint Janssen and John Halloran, so there’s no need for an election for board members.

The district will, however, ask voters in a mail ballot for a property tax increase.

Board member Darell Wegert said the five-member group Thursday approved a resolution sending the question to the ballot. Wegert said the request is for a 2-mill increase. If approved, Wegert said the money would go to needed equipment purchases, including upgrades or additions to the district’s wildland firefighting arsenal. Wegert added that it’s also time for the district to replace its ladder truck, used for taller buildings. When the current truck was purchased a decade or more ago, it cost about $800,000. But, Wegert added, the current price of those trucks is about $1.2 million.

The Eagle River Fire Protection District is the only of the valley’s fire districts holding an election this year.

The Greater Eagle Fire Protection District and Gypsum Fire Protection District have both canceled their election due to lack of candidates for board positions.

Recreation districts

The Mountain Recreation District services residents from portions of Edwards west to Dotsero. Scott Robinson, Mountain Recreation’s designated election official, wrote in an email that with no financial questions for voters, the district will hold a polling place election. Eligible voters can cast ballots at the Edwards Field House, the Eagle Pool & Ice Rink, and the Gypsum Recreation Center.

Seven people are running for three open seats on the district’s board. In the order their names will appear on the ballot, the candidates are:

  • Tom Edwards
  • Brian Brandl
  • Robert Ladd
  • Joanna Kerwin
  • Jason Cole
  • Thomas Pohl
  • Shawna Topor

For more information, email SRobinson@MountainRec.org.

The Vail Recreation District has canceled its election. Current board members will fill the available seats.


The EagleVail community is also holding a polling place election on May 2 at the EagleVail Pavilion. Two candidates will be elected to serve four-year terms.

The candidates are:

  • Terry Copeland
  • Joanna Hopkins (incumbent)
  • Fred Rumford
  • Dennis Saffell
  • William Wilder

Eagle County Paramedic Services

Eagle County Paramedic Services, the valley’s ambulance district, is holding a polling-place election, with voting taking place at the Edwards Fieldhouse and the Gypsum Recreation Center. District officials are still considering adding a polling place in Avon.

The May 2 election is for two members of the district board of directors. Those running are:

  • David Bentley
  • Mark Bergman
  • Kala Bettis
  • Kyler Hijmans
  • Carl Luppens
  • Scott Prince
  • Brandy Reitter
  • Dan Smith (incumbent)

District 5 judge finalists have been selected

Fifth Judicial District Judge Russell Granger will be retiring Nov. 1. Anticipating the bench opening following his retirement, Colorado’s Judicial Department has posted a call for applications to the position. Having completed interviews and other procedures with qualified applicants, the Fifth Judicial District nomination commission met Friday to select the finalists to be nominated to Gov. Jared Polis for appointment. 

According to the Colorado Office of Judicial Performance Evaluation, Granger served within the Fifth Judicial District since 1998, when he first sat on the Clear Creek County bench. In 2006, Granger was appointed to the District Court bench, where he has worked within Eagle County since. In the 2020 Retention Survey Report on Granger’s performance, it was noted that Granger is “proficient at complex trials” and advocates for out-of-courtroom solutions to problems. Forty-one written evaluations, including 39 completed by attorneys, evaluated Granger on various aspects of his performance. 

“The survey results found that Judge Granger meets performance standards, higher than the 83% rating for all district judges,” the evaluation read. “Judge Granger scores slightly higher than the average for all district judges on case management. The commission noted that Judge Granger scored lower than average for all other district judges in fairness; however, there were multiple survey respondents who praised him for his fairness. Granger noted that fairness is important to him in his work on the bench. He stated that he recognizes that people in court need to be heard and understood and he works to provide that for each person who appears before him.”

Following in Granger’s footsteps, the incoming Fifth Judicial District judge will also be faced with balancing sides in a trial.

The Colorado Judicial Department on Oct. 11 released the names of three candidates the nominating commission chose to move forward in the appointment process. Inga Causey of Gypsum, Courtney Holm of Edwards and Rachel Olguin-Fresquez of Gypsum were selected to be the candidates Polis will evaluate and eventually choose from to sit on the district court bench following Granger. 

Causey explained that like Granger, she believes a district court judge needs to prioritize effective listening in order to make fair decisions. 

“Over the years, you sometimes see judges that are worn down, that are fatigued and oftentimes, they stop listening to the people before them,” Causey said. “I believe that as a judge, we are here to serve the community. We are here to serve others and that mandates serving with compassion, empathy, creativity and resourcefulness.”

Causey, like the position’s other nominees, has deep roots within the counties that make up the Fifth Judicial District. She noted that this kind of community connection is essential to a better understanding of issues presented and resources available to make decisions. 

“When you understand the heartbeat of a community, you’re better able to serve that community,” Causey said. 

Causey is currently the town prosecutor of Vail, a magistrate judge for the 13th judicial district, a deputy judge for Minturn, an associate judge for De Beque and a partner at Causey & Howard Attorneys and Counselors at Law. She said she believes her background in law qualifies her to fill Granger’s position. Along with her 20-plus years of experience, Causey shared that her passion for what she does is tethered to her every move in the courtroom. 

She described how this sentiment was inspired, telling a story about how she was tasked with representing an entire Louisiana parish while a third-year law student.

“I walk into the courtroom and it is packed,” Causey said. “It’s full of TV and news and I see people in the community are just wall-to-wall. I’m terrified. I’m thinking, ‘oh my gosh, this entire parish is depending on a law student to help them.’ I started walking to the podium to give my oral argument and I was nervous; my voice was shaking and my ears get hot when I get nervous. But behind me, this community, with each sentence, I would hear their words of encouragement. ‘That’s right,’ ‘you tell it,’ those kinds of things. At that point, I knew that what we did matters and that our work is meant to serve others. I wanted to carry that with me today and I will keep that perspective on the bench.”

Per the Colorado Constitution, Polis has 15 days following the nominations on Oct. 10 to select the new Fifth Judicial District judge. 

Depending on who Polis appoints to the position, the future of the seat is up to the candidate’s available start date. Robert McCallum, Public Information Officer at Colorado’s judicial department, explained that the selected candidate may need to wrap up a private practice as well as personal affairs before moving to serve on the bench. Because of this, the judgeship may be temporarily filled until the incoming judge is able to take the seat. 

McCallum also explained that a start date before Election Day results in a difference in initial term length compared to a start date after midterms. 

“If this person started on Nov. 1, in two years they would be eligible to stand for retention again, because it would be prior to the next election,” McCallum said. “If the person started, say Nov. 15, after this year’s general election, that person would actually have to wait four years to sit for the provision because there wouldn’t be an election cycle.”

Colorado judges are appointed, but voters can remove them at a general election.

The two-year window around elections is given to those at the beginning of their judgeship before a retention evaluation for judges to get their footing and tackle the new-position learning curve, McCallum explained. 

“It’s a big job to take the bench and be a judge,” McCallum said. 

Eagle residents meet new chief of police finalist

Eagle community members gathered Monday at Town Hall on Broadway to enjoy snacks and meet Derrick Bos, a candidate for the town’s open chief of police position.

Carrie Buhlman is acting as the town’s interim chief of police after Joey Staufer’s retirement earlier this year. However, a permanent replacement has yet to be selected by the town’s hiring committee. 

Other finalists for the position gathered for a meet-and-greet at town hall on Aug. 29. However, Town Manager Larry Pardee announced in the last week of September that the hiring committee was adding Bos into the mix of finalists. Bos currently works as the police chief of Brush, located in the northeast corner of the state. He’s been on the job since April 2019.

According to a town release, the hiring committee was unable to decide on a hire after interviews with finalists were conducted in August. Bos was invited to interview by the committee as an additional finalist.  

In the hiring committee’s advertisement for Eagle’s chief of police position, it was made clear that strong intentions to establish a positive and effective relationship between the department’s current 16-member team and the community of Eagle ought to be a priority for any candidate for the position. 

“The Town of Eagle is seeking a compassionate and community-minded law enforcement professional ready to take the reins of a successful, hardworking department,” the advertisement read. “The successful candidate for this position will be a ‘working chief’ well versed in industry best practices, accreditation standards, and evolving technology.” 

While Bos, a self-described family man, mingled with his potential new neighbors, he discussed qualities Eagle possesses that make it an especially desirable place to live.

“We are from the mountains, so we’re excited for the chance to possibly move back to the mountains,” Bos said. 

Bos said what most appealed to him about Eagle was the community’s “vibe.” He explained that while he went through the accreditation process to be a police chief in the state of Colorado, he met many people he would be working alongside, should he get the position. After making connections and getting other small tastes of the area, he explained that Eagle felt like a good fit. 

“My policing philosophy is all about relationships,” Bos said. “It’s all about relationships between the officers and the community, community and the officers. The one-on-one relationships are at the heart of it, but collectively, I think it’s about building that trust and relationships with the community.”

On top of having a fondness for living in small mountain communities, Bos described his history in law enforcement. Navigating an annual budget of about $2.7 million requires experience with leadership and delegation, he said. While addressing the group of Eagle residents gathered at the meet-and-greet, Bos outlined many of the professional qualifications that brought him to the finalist stage of the race. 

In 1999, Bos went to the police academy in Colorado Springs at Pikes Peak Regional Law Enforcement Academy, after which he earned his associates degree and then worked as a patrol deputy in Chase County, Nebraska, for over two years. Bos also detailed how he worked for the Bozeman Police Department in Montana for a short period before earning his bachelor’s degree in Iowa in 2006. After leaving Iowa, Bos said he returned to Chase County to work his way up to being the undersheriff, a position he eventually left to pursue other positions, including police chief in Brush.

“I had my fingers in everything,” Bos said. “I started a crime scene investigation team there in the county. I worked on multiple SWAT teams, got involved in cold case investigations.”

Explaining that his favorite part of law enforcement was the continuous opportunity to learn, Bos said he also had the opportunity to learn about good and bad leadership from first-hand observation and experience. 

“I’ve been blessed in that I’ve never had a mediocre boss,” Bos said. “I’ve either had really good ones or really bad ones, but I think that has really been a learning experience in my life on how to be a good leader.”

He also said that Staufer encouraged him to apply for the position. Among others who recommended Bos apply to be Eagle’s new chief of police, Staufer’s recommendation encouraged Bos to watch the position. 

Bos said he and his family are excited about the possibility of being welcomed into Eagle, should he be offered the job. Eagle’s vacancy is just one opening among many across the state. Aurora, Lakewood, Loveland, Greeley, El Dorado, Palisade, Broomfield, Haxtun, Rifle and Craig are all cities and towns in search of a new police chief.

Eagle Mayor Scott Turnipseed was among the attendees at the Monday meet-and-greet, and said he has full trust in the town’s hiring committee.

Boebert, Frisch spar over water, legislation and steak dinner

Tension bubbled in Grand Junction on Saturday night when U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., clashed with Adam Frisch during a heated debate.

The Western Colorado Candidate Debates, hosted by Club 20 in partnership with Colorado Mesa University and The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, was the backdrop of several political jousting matches on Saturday, though the showdown between Boebert and Frisch — the final debate of the night — was certainly the most anticipated.

Boebert, the Republican incumbent, and Democratic challenger Adam Frisch, sparred from the podium over several issues including climate change, infrastructure, energy and several others.

The first clash of the night, however, did not involve Frisch. The debate got off to a contentious start after Boebert accused the debate’s moderator, Edie Sonn, of being partisan following a request that both candidates agree to engage only in civil discourse, free of personal attacks and inflammatory remarks, throughout the entirety of the event.

Boebert’s source of irritation centered around a tweet that the moderator had apparently sent in 2020.

Seeking a second term, Boebert is challenged by Frisch, a former businessman and city council member who describes the congresswoman as “an anti-American, anti-Colorado show pony who can’t tell right from wrong” on his website.

Ousting the Silt Republican from her seat in Congress, however, could prove to be a difficult task for Frisch, particularly in the conservative-leaning 3rd congressional district of Colorado, a place where a Democrat hasn’t been elected since 2008.

Frisch has gotten about $236,000 from individual donors in Colorado, a fraction compared to the $1.3 million Boebert has gotten.

Despite the obstacles, Frisch has made it clear he thinks he has a shot at winning, accusing Boebert of “angertainment” and “extremism.”

“You’ve failed us and are not doing the work,” Frisch said to Boebert. “You’ve consistently voted against the interests of our farmers and ranchers, our small business owners, our teachers and our health care workers … I’m curious, congresswoman, are you failing because you don’t care, because you can’t do the job, or because you can’t tell the difference between right and wrong … You’re not showing up, you’re shooting blanks when it comes to protecting the citizens and communities of our district.”

Frisch wasted no time when it came to taking shots at Boebert, mentioning the 39 pieces of legislation the congresswoman has either sponsored or cosponsored and how not one of them has passed the House, let alone gone on to become law.

A jab made at Boebert is usually met with a jab in return as Frisch quickly learned.

Over the course of the evening, Boebert made several attacks of her own against her challenger, alleging that Frisch lied about his “lifelong unaffiliated voter” status, claiming that he was previously registered as a Democrat.

Boebert also mentioned the price of Frisch’s home in Aspen, saying that the property was remodeled for $9 million, a hypocritical move for someone who supports affordable housing, according to Boebert.

Boebert took far more digs at Pelosi than she did Frisch though, to which Frisch often responded with, “I am not Nancy Pelosi, I am Adam Frisch.”

Climate change

Of all the issues discussed on Saturday, climate change was the most predominant.

The Colorado River crisis, forest management and electric energy were recurring points of discussion, often within the context of climate change, which only underscored the contrasting ideologies between Boebert and Frisch.

“The United States leads the world in reducing greenhouse gas emissions because of our natural gas. We have some of the cleanest natural gas in the world and we need to unleash the full power of the American roughneck right here,” Boebert said. “We have the cleanest energy in the world and the left wants to outsource our energy development to our adversaries.”

In 2019, Boebert introduced a bill to block the Paris Climate Accords, a move that came after a long track record of the congresswoman’s sentiment that climate change is a “power grab by the Democratic elites.”

Despite this, Boebert still expressed that she does believe in clean water and air, stating that people must be “stewards of the land.”

Frisch was far more blatant about climate change, stating that he believes it is happening and is cause for concern.

“There’s no doubt that we’re in the midst of a climate crisis,” Frisch said. “This is why it’s so important that we have healthy forests and so important that we save every drop of water that comes down from the sky, that runs down through our rivers, and we have to figure out how to get as much of that water as possible … into our communities.”

Energy became a subsidiary point of discussion and another issue to which little common ground was found.

Frisch spoke about his general support for renewable energy, though remained clear on his belief that the road to being solely dependent on clean energy would be a long one.

Boebert outlined her feelings on the importance of natural gas and went on to express her support for nuclear energy, which she said is the “cleanest.”

Both Boebert and Frisch did, however, seem to agree that diminishing water, particularly in the Colorado River, is a major problem facing Colorado.

“Often I’m asked what my top three issues are and I say water, water, water,” Boebert said. “The West and Colorado have suffered from a historic 22-year drought … I’m working to secure funds for more water storage and delivery projects.”

Tensions rose considerably once the candidates began cross-examining one another.

Frisch asked Boebert why she didn’t attend the steak dinner hosted by Club 20 the night prior, to which Boebert responded by saying, “dinners aren’t really my priority.”

Through the cross-examination and into the closing remarks, the crowd, who was mostly civil through the debate, became more vocal.

Lauren Boebert’s husband, Jayson Boebert, made several jeers directed at Frisch from the audience while Frisch’s supporters often laughed at some of Boebert’s statements, one of the bigger laughs elicited when Boebert accused Frisch of running “covert operations” in Aspen.

“I’m running to be the voice of the people of Western and Southern Colorado. I’ll work with anyone, any party, from any state, at any time to get things done for you,” Frisch addressed the crowd during his closing remarks.

Boebert said in her closing remarks that, “I’ve proven that I have got the work done, I can get the work done and I’ve secured over $340 million in appropriation for our district, our farmers and our ranchers. But Nancy Pelosi is running a con game. Under Pelosi, Democrats are told to campaign as moderates. Make no mistake, there are no moderates in Pelosi’s party.”

Ballots will be mailed to registered voters in Colorado in mid-October. Elections day is Nov. 8.

Michael Bennet shares stories of climate battles in Congress at campaign stop in Eagle

Locals on Wednesday in Eagle got to see what Sen. Michael Bennet called a different viewpoint than he often expresses during a campaign stop at Grand Ave. Grill.

“Last year, we talked a lot about the dysfunction in Washington, and the inability to really get anything done, and it’s been like that off and on for an awful lot of the time that I’ve been in there, I regret to say,” Bennet said. “Having said that, if you look at the last 12 months or so, it is extraordinary what’s been accomplished.”

Bennet said he was most proud of the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act, otherwise known as the climate bill, sharing a story of an 11th-hour fight to include $4 billion to combat the effects of drought in the Colorado River Basin.

“I went on national television and said ‘I’m not voting for a bill that does anything to mess up Colorado’s water, or the Upper Basin’s water, I will not do it,'” Bennet said.

Not long after, Bennet said he found himself in Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office.

“And he was saying to me, you’ve got an hour and a half to negotiate this language with (Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, Sen. Joe Manchin, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, Sen. Mark Kelly),” Bennet said. “And we were able to do it.”

Bennet touted other legislation that he had a hand in passing in recent months, including the Postal Service Reform Act, which was signed into law in April, the Veterans Health Care Freedom Act, which passed the U.S. Senate on Aug. 2, and the CHIPS and Science Act, which was signed into law on Aug. 9.

But Bennet also shared his concerns about the large issues that he said have been bothering him since he took office.

“People say we can’t save, we feel like our kids are going to live a more diminished life than the life we live and we’re already making choices that our parents and grandparents didn’t have to make,” Bennet said.

Ninety-year-old Katherine Delanoy, of Eagle, met Bennet for the first time on Wednesday after years of writing letters to his office.

Delanoy said when she first started writing Bennet, early in his first term, her letters contained some harsh criticisms.

“But he’s since withdrawn his support for fossil fuels, so now the letters are nicer,” she said.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, left, addresses attendees at a campaign event at Grand Ave. Grill in Eagle on Wednesday. On his right is Katherine Delanoy, 90, of Eagle, who met the senator for the first time at the event.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

Delanoy was one of several locals who were able to ask Bennet an impromptu question on Wednesday.

Delanoy said the climate bill does a lot to encourage change from oil and gas to renewables, “but my feeling is nothing is moving fast enough, and I’m wondering if there’s anything else coming up.”

Bennet told Delanoy that after years of having a policy that was “terrible on reducing emissions,” he feels the U.S. is finally transitioning away from a fossil-fuel economy.

Bennet said the reason the transition didn’t start sooner is the American people are worried about transforming the economy, and “the federal government will screw it up — all legitimate concerns,” he said.

As a result, “it’s been easy for the oil lobby to stop everything in its tracks,” Bennet said. “But I do think the fact that we are able to assert fundamental American leadership on this question is going to mean we’re going to be able to move the rest of the world in this direction more quickly than we otherwise would have.”

Bennet also said he was proud of the Inflation Reduction Act because it will raise taxes on companies that are “doing stock buybacks to engineer results,” along with companies that make more than $1 billion per year.

“My kids and the kids that are the age of my kids in Colorado and across this country, they’ve never lived in a democracy that’s actually worked very well, they’ve lived in an economy that’s relentlessly shoveled the benefits of that economy to the wealthiest people, and their view of us — people in Congress — is: ‘Could you at least show some shred of caring for us by doing something on climate change?'” Bennet said.

Bennet is running for a third term in the Senate and in talking points for events like Wednesday’s, “my staff, you know, they put in the word proud,” Bennet said, saying he always removes the word from his speeches.

But on the climate bill, Bennet told Delanoy, “I was proud, Katherine, to call my daughter Caroline, who’s my oldest daughter, who’s 22 years old, and say to her that after working all night, after fighting off all those amendments, after being on the floor for 36 hours, that I could report to her that we had passed the most significant climate change legislation that America has ever seen.”

With book bans surging nationwide, Eagle County is not untouched

Correction: An earlier version of this story included a photo from the Vail Public Library that featured the book “Lawn Boy” by Gary Paulsen. Paulsen’s book is the story of a 12-year-0ld boy who starts a lawn mowing business. The “Lawn Boy” currently gaining traction on banned book lists is the semi-autobiographical novel by Jonathen Evison that is an entirely different book.

The start of the academic year is less than a week away for Eagle County Schools, which, for many students cues the end-of-summer scramble to finish up summer reading. But while students anxiously cram in what they’re required to read, school districts and legislatures across the country may be more concerned with the titles that are prohibited.

In recent years, book banning has been steadily on the rise nationwide, with 2021 marking a dramatic resurgence in the practice. The American Library Association tracked 729 challenges to library, school, and university materials last year — an all-time high in the organization’s 20 years of data, and more than double the 273 books challenged or banned in 2020.

Overwhelmingly, books targeted in the recent wave of bans engage with topics of race and LGBTQ content. According to the American Library Association, “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe was the single most-challenged book in 2021. “The Hate U Give,” by Angie Thomas, Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” and “This Book is Gay,” by Juno Dawson also make the top 10

Currently, there are no school districts with active book bans in Colorado. 

Katie Jarnot, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for Eagle County Schools, confirmed that there have been no challenges to books or educational materials since she took on her current position four years ago. 

“I am not aware of any challenges that we have had in the 12 years I’ve been in the district,” she added in an email to the Vail Daily. 

The school district’s current policy requires administrators to review curricula (including books and other materials that will be taught) every five years. Its text specifically calls for considerations of “curriculum breadth,” “all student populations,” and “educational equity” in this process.

“It is important for school districts to have policies like these in place, so that there is a basis for the selection of curriculum and educational resources and so that any challenge can be addressed in an objective and fair manner,” Jarnot wrote.

In Eagle County, the culture war on book banning has not made classrooms a battleground. But according to Linda Tillson, director of Eagle Valley Library District, book challenges are not unheard of in the county. She reported that the library district typically receives one to two completed reconsideration request forms each year, usually reflecting concern about “sexual content, LGBTQ+ topics, and age-appropriateness.”

Tillson reported that the only challenge that has been approved in recent years removed a children’s book about Thanksgiving that contained an “outdated and inaccurate” portrayal of Native Americans.

Reconsideration forms are standard procedure in libraries across the U.S. as a means to gather input from a concerned patron about a particular resource. Forms generally request information about the contested item, including if the objector has examined the entire resource, what specific concerns the objector holds, and what action the objector suggests the library staff should take (e.g., a reclassification, restriction, or removal of the resource). 

Completed forms are reviewed by the library director who, with the counsel of other staff members, makes the ultimate decision on how to address the request. Decisions may be appealed and put to the citizen Board of Trustees for reconsideration.

While book bans are historically rare in the state (especially compared to bordering Kansas with 30 active bans, Oklahoma with 43, and Utah with 11), challenges and controversy are not. In 2001, the Denver Post reported on one parent’s crusade to ban Lois Lowry’s “The Giver” from school classrooms and curricula, arguing that the book’s discussion of suicide and euthanasia were unsuitable for young readers and promoted a disregard for human life that could motivate tragedies like the Columbine shooting. 

James LaRue, who worked as the director of the Douglas County Library from 1990-2014, reported that in that time he received 250 challenges to library materials — more than in any other library he’d heard of. The experience motivated him to write “The New Inquisition,” a book exploring modern challenges to intellectual freedom. 

In 2016, he left Douglas County to work for the Office of Intellectual Freedom for the American Library Association, where he addressed about one challenge a day. He believes that in this point in his career he’s dealt with over 1,000 challenges. 

LaRue, who returned to Colorado to serve as executive director of Garfield County Library District in May, has observed a “shift in the wind” with the practice of book banning: challenges that were once isolated events, brought forward by concerned parents, have been interspersed with more concerted, sometimes political, efforts. 

“It’s not just individual people complaining about one book, it’s somebody showing up with 380 books and so it’s far more coordinated and less individual,” he said, “Most of these challenges, you would have to describe as partisan.”

LaRue cited groups like Moms4Liberty and CatholicVote, which have launched campaigns to remove books of controversial subject matter. But the politicization of the issue has also been presented on a legislative scale.

In 2021, 54 bills in 24 states were introduced to ban books on controversial issues such as race, gender, and sexuality. The Colorado House of Representatives considered the “Public Education Curriculum And Professional Development Information” bill last year, sponsored by Tim Geitner, an El Paso County Republican. The bill called for local education providers and school districts to publish a comprehensive list of educational materials used in classrooms PK-12, including the title, internet address, publisher, publication date, and international standard business number for each item. It also stipulated that education providers must provide a copy of any book or resource used in the classroom to parents upon request. The bill was introduced and did not pass.

“New legislation … represents a very concerted attack, not just on a couple books that people are upset about, but trying to suppress whole topics from a public institution,” LaRue said, “it’s a fight for the soul of the institution.”

LaRue reported that he has already received four challenges to Garfield County Library materials since taking on his post with the district in the spring.

“I think that the best route to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is literacy,” LaRue added. “This is an issue worth talking about.”

Abortion rights protesters ‘rage’ at Friday rally in Eagle

EAGLE — Around 100 pro-choice protesters gathered at the Eagle County campus on Friday evening to rally in support of reproductive rights. 

Black-clad protestors lined the East lawn along Sixth Street, chanting and waving signs with pro-choice messaging (often witty and often written in pink). Activity at the rally went on from 7 p.m. through around 8:30 p.m., eliciting almost exclusive support in the form of honks and thumbs-ups from cars driving past. Counter-protesting came in an unconventional form as a single motorcyclist sped by with a revving engine. The rider was promptly pulled over by Eagle police.

Remove the Eagle County building from the background, and the image could be mistaken for any number of parallel protests across the country. 

The demonstration kicked off what organizers called the “Summer of Rage” in the Eagle River Valley, a nationwide protesting movement borne of the Supreme Court’s recent Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling. The landmark decision cleared the way for states to reshape abortion rights in the U.S, overturning Roe v. Wade nearly 50 years after the court first held that women have a fundamental right to abortion under the United States Constitution.

In Colorado, access to abortion at all stages of pregnancy remains legal. Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order on July 6 strengthening abortion security statewide. The mandate implemented new protections for individuals and organizations that provide abortions, including those who have traveled to Colorado from out of state to obtain the procedure.

Protesters encourage drivers to honk for abortion rights during Friday’s rally in Eagle.
Tess Weinreich/Vail Daily

Outside of Colorado, roughly half of the states in the country have enacted (or are in the process of enacting) legislation to ban or severely restrict abortion. Neighboring states such as Arizona, Kansas, Nebraska, Utah, and Wyoming have uniformly sought to implement anti-abortion laws, leaving Colorado and New Mexico as strongholds for legal abortion care. 

Dylan Roberts, who represents Eagle and Routt counties (District 26) in the Colorado House of Representatives, and is running for the District 8 seat in the state Senate, was among the crowd at the Eagle protest. Roberts commented on Colorado’s unique geopolitical relation to the issue of abortion.

“In Colorado, the right to reproductive health care is the law of the land. I’m very thankful that this is a place where women haven’t lost their freedom,” Roberts said. “As a state, we have a responsibility to the people who live here and also the people who come here from across the country seeking health care. We have to do what we can to protect them and make sure that their freedom and liberty are not taken away by other states trying to persecute them for making certain choices,” he continued.

‘It feels like a funeral for our rights’

According to Nancy Tashman, a rally organizer and precinct committee person for the Eagle County Democrats, one of the primary goals of the rally was to make local Coloradans more aware of the important role their state will play in a Dobbs-era America.

“We have to encourage each other to continue the fight. We’re not going to give up on what we can do to help women in other states,” she said.

A crowd gathers outside of the Eagle County campus of buildings for Friday’s “Summer of Rage” protest in support of reproductive rights. Parallel protests have been happening across the country since the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion last month.
Tess Weinreich/Vail Daily

Tashman added that she, Ross and co-organizers Jennifer Filipowski, Lisa Lewis, Megan Peyton hoped that the rally would provide time for community members to process the ruling collectively.

“It feels like a funeral for our rights. We need a space to express our sorrow and anger that this has happened,” Tashman said.

Indeed, for protestors on Friday, “Summer of Rage” signified more than a banner head or rallying cry. Many expressed feelings of disappointment, disbelief and indignation in reaction to the court’s decision.

“Women have been delegated to second-class citizens and that’s not OK with me,” said Hannah Ross, a member of the Eagle County Democrats and co-organizer of the demonstration. “We can’t be silent.”

For many present, the issue of abortion is more than legal abstract, but rather a deeply personal issue.

Kay Delanoy, a longtime Eagle Valley resident recalled feelings of triumph when Roe was initially passed in 1973. Her mother suffered lifelong health complications after undergoing two illegal abortions during the Great Depression.

“We’ve been fighting this fight for a long time, too long a time,” she said. 

According to Stephen Gordon, a former doctor of obstetrics and gynecology who attended the protest, medical problems from unsafe, illegal abortions are not something from a bygone era. 

Gordon practiced for almost 40 years in Missouri and Kansas before retiring to Eagle five years ago. While the duration of his career was post-Roe, he recalled professors and mentors’ “horror stories” of women suffering sometimes-deadly complications caused by illegal abortions.

“It’s going to happen again,” he stated. “If women can’t get safe abortions … women are going to die. It should be their choice between them and their doctor.”

“I spent 36 years of my life taking care of women, and their daughters, and their mothers, and their granddaughters. It worries me as to what’s going to happen next,” Gordon said.

Eagle Town Council discusses Grand Avenue Corridor plans and updated cost estimates

Updated plans for the Grand Avenue Corridor dominated discussion in Tuesday’s Eagle Town Council meeting as project leader and landscape architect Pedro Campos presented the latest design proposals for what is currently estimated to be a $56 million redevelopment.

Campos began with a review of the redevelopment’s guiding principles. The project aims to expand transportation options beyond personal vehicles, encourage community engagement with public spaces and Eagle businesses, and enhance the town’s aesthetic appeal — all while juggling environmental considerations, economic realities and equity concerns as distinct priorities. 

Described as “shooting for the moon,” by Campos, the design plan presented to Town Council members on Tuesday almost comprehensively met these goals. 

The proposal outlined an expansion of the roadway from two to four lanes, as well as the addition of a raised landscape median and four new roundabouts to better accommodate the roadway’s high traffic volume. According to Campos, however, even with the proposed improvements, the construction of an alternate interchange will likely be necessary at some point in the future as traffic volume projections indicate that daily travel demand in Eagle will more than double in the next 15 years. 

“One road cannot do it all,” he said.

The plan also included a detached, 12-foot wide cycle track and 6-foot-wide designated pedestrian walkway, termed the “bistro-zone” in reference to the potential for roadside businesses to capitalize on the newly walkable community space. Both of these paths would be constructed along the south side of Grand Avenue. 

Addressing concerns for safety voiced by stakeholders, both the expanded roadway and new pedestrian zone would be illuminated by streetlights after dark. Other new installations would include decorative gateways on either side of the corridor, as well as by major streets in an effort to build town character and make way finding easier for visitors. 

Transitioning from a review of development plans, Campos handed over the presentation to planning consultants Andrew Knudsten and Sarah Dunmire to discuss financing the project. They shared three potential paths forward, scaled by estimated cost. 

The first option, at $56 million, represents estimated cost of the project if executed as proposed, without cost-reducing measures. The second plan, at $45.6 million would realize the majority of the redevelopment proposal, but eliminate a particularly costly section of the development West of Sylvan Lake Roundabout. This segment of Grand Avenue could potentially be developed at a later time. 

The most modest proposal, operates within the $32.7 million dollar budget originally slated in the town’s Capital Improvement Program and would require a major rescoping of the development. 

Certain considerations for final cost remain unknown. Specifically, as construction interferes with private property and the property of the Union Pacific Railroad to the north, the negotiation of leases or right of way acquisitions will be necessary. 

Knudsten and Dunmire concluded the presentation with strategies to finance the project at each budget-scale. Increasing sales and property taxes, introducing lock-boxes on e-commerce, marijuana and tobacco, and tax increment funding opportunities were among suggested strategies. At this time, the town has dedicated $10 million to the Grand Avenue project.

After the conclusion of the presentation, council members took time to respond, discussing increased property tax, combining the cycle and pedestrian track, and eliminating the west-most segment of the roadway as potential options to make the project most economically feasible. The council also proposed a work session to continue to evaluate cost-reducing measures as developers continue to advance planning for Grand Avenue.

Colorado Gov. Polis says his $1.3 billion stimulus plan would create up to 15,000 jobs, but questions abound

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Thursday asked state lawmakers to spend $1.3 billion on an economic stimulus package that he said would create up to 15,000 jobs and boost the state’s economy by 11% over current projections.

“Making these investments now with this one-time money will help restore economic growth faster and better, and shrink projected deficits in future years,” Polis said as he presented his budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year. “The legislature really has a unique opportunity to put an imprint on Colorado and help Colorado lead the way in the economic recovery.”

The Democratic governor added another request: He asked lawmakers to authorize spending $205 million in the stimulus plan in the next few weeks. The first actions would include a temporary sales tax cut up to $10,000 for restaurants and other businesses restrained by public health orders limiting their capacity; an additional $50 million in rental and mortgage payment assistance; and $50 million in payments to early childhood centers pinched by the coronavirus pandemic. 

“This is going to be one of the toughest winters ever just on the health side and the economic side,” Polis said.

Read more from John Frank, Colorado Sun.

More Coloradans than ever voted this year, and the state’s turnout ranks in the top 5 nationwide

Empowered by mail ballots and energized by the nation’s polarized political climate, more Coloradans voted this year than ever before in the state’s history.

More than 3.3 million ballots had been processed by state election officials through Thursday and the tally is expected to grow as remaining ballots are processed and counted. That represents 78% of registered voters. In 2016, 2.9 million voters cast ballots, or 74% of those registered, according to state figures.https://flo.uri.sh/visualisation/4145015/embed?auto=1A Flourish chart

“It was really just very high turnout across the board,” said Ryan Winger, a data analyst for Magellan Strategies, which tracks early-vote numbers.

Colorado’s population has boomed in recent years, which allowed the state to top 3 million votes for the first time. But most significantly, the turnout hit 77% of the voting-eligible population — up from 72% in 2016, according to the nonpartisan U.S. Elections Project at the University of Florida. This year’s number is the highest rate since tracking started in 2000.

Read more from Evan Ochsner, Colorado Sun