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An independent run for commissioner

Veronica Whitney

“People who live here are tired of party politics,” says Bower, who on Monday became an independent candidate for county commissioner in the fall elections. “People are craving a candidate who is free of special interests and partisan influences.”Despite having to raise signatures for her nomination twice in a month – 40 of the 180 initial signatures presented to the Eagle County Clerk & Recorder’s Office were invalid – Bower, 36, of Gypsum, a county housing planner, didn’t give up on her bid. She kept visiting supermarkets throughout the valley to collect more signatures.By Monday, Bower, who needed 183 signatures to support her candidacy as an independent, had submitted 79 new signatures – she had until today to gather 43 more.Eagle County Clerk & Recorder Sara Fisher verified the signatures Monday and nominated Bower, who will run against incumbent Tom Stone, a Republican, and Gerry Sandberg, a Democrat.”I’m excited and I’m glad that it’s official,” Bower says. “People have been very supportive and encouraging. I still have a lot of work to do.”As a housing planner, Bower provides input on affordable housing.Currently she’s working on a set of affordable- and employee-housing regulations being considered by the commissioners. She says the new regulations will help curb future housing problems.”I’ve talked to people in the county, and affordable housing still is the main concern they have,” says Bower, who since moving to the valley has lived in a mobile home and a camper. She still hasn’t been able to buy her own home. “We need to improve our land planning. Space is limited, and we already have enough projects approved that will add another 10,000 homes to this valley. These homes also have no guarantee of affordability.”Gov. Owens appointed Bower as a current member of the Colorado State Housing Board. She also is former co-chair of the Colorado Association of Realtors Legislative Committee.”I know what it is like to struggle to make ends meet, to get out of debt and to hold four jobs at once,” Bower says.Her platform revolves around the following five issues:- Responsible growth and land planning.- Continued commitment to local housing issues.- Effective resource management, such as the protection of water rights and forest management.- Economic development and diversification.- Safety, such as emergency preparedness and communication, and lowering the rates of traffic accidents and crime.Another concern, she says, is the water supply.”I’ve been often asked how much development and activities can our current water supply handle?” she says. “I believe Eagle County residents need an answer to these questions.”This is Bower’s second bid for elected office. In 1996, she was the Democratic candidate for State Senate, District 8. Months before the elections, however, Bower decided to endorse her opponent, Dave Wattenberg, saying he was in a better position to help people.Stone – who in 1998 faced Democrat Jacque Whitsitt and June Deane, an independent who also worked for the county – says he’s ready to face two candidates.”I think there are some obvious differences between me and both of my opponents,” Stone says. “But I don’t see much difference between them.”I have a lot more experience than they do, and I have proven results, a positive agenda for the future.”Sandberg wasn’t available for comment Monday.Bower, who ran her senate campaign with $3,000, says she’ll again be accepting only individual contributions rather than large corporate donations.”I don’t have big money interests on my side,” she says, “but I have the people’s interest on my side. What people expect of elected officials is that that person represent them and not the wealthiest interest groups.”Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at vwhitney@vaildaily.com.


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