Candidate calls Eagle County a "high priority’ |

Candidate calls Eagle County a "high priority’

Christine Ina Casillas/Daily Staff Writer
Vail Daily/Coreen SappSummit County Commissioner Gary Lindstrom spoke on his candidacy for the State House of Representatives Saturday morning at Fiesta's Cafe and Cantina in Edwards. The event was hosted by the Eagle County Democrats and marks the first of a series of breakfast forums the party plans to hold.

Jobs, health care and education are among Democratic State House candidate Gary Lindstrom’s priorities this election year.

But Eagle County is also one high on the list, Lindstrom said at a breakfast forum attended by about 10 people Saturday morning at Fiesta’s Cafe and Cantina in Edwards.

Two years ago, Rep. Carl Miller, a Leadville Democrat, faced a challenge from Eagle County resident Heather Lemon for his seat in the state House of Representatives. Lemon, a Republican, won a majority of votes Eagle County, but Miller was re-elected.

“The vote was close,” said Lindstrom, currently a Summit County commissioner. “My plans are to put an emphasis on Eagle County in the election. It’s important to do as much as I can in Eagle County.”

Running on reform

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The three items at the top of Lindstrom’s list of priorities are nationwide problems that are intertwined and need attention, he said. Jobs, health care and education go hand-in-hand and are also affected by recession, Lindstrom said.

Jobs in the House district, which also includes Lake and Summit counties, depend on creating economic diversity, said Lindstrom, adding he has been working with Vail Resorts in an effort to find ways to improve the mountain economy during a recession.

“There are a lot of reforms that can happen that are near and dear to the heart,” Lindstrom said.

Vail Resorts owns four ski mountains in the district, including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone.

Lindstrom said he has also been working on ways to improve health care benefits for workers.

“It is an inbred bureaucracy that keeps getting bigger and bigger,” Lindstrom said of the nation’s health care system.

The community would be better off wide increased health care benefits that are not based on age or ethnicity, Lindstrom said.

“It’s difficult to make changes to health care at the local level, and it’s even harder at the state level,” Lindstrom said. “Benefits are important to people, especially for those with families.”

Sandy Briggs, chairman of Summit County Democrats, said small businesses most offer suffer when it comes to health insurance.

“It goes well beyond local control,” Briggs said.

Peter Runyon, Vail photographer who attended Saturday’s speech, said 40 million Americans at any one time are not covered by health care.

“We cannot make health-care decisions based on economics,” Runyon said.

“Just say Gary’

Debbie K. Marquez, a chairwoman of the Eagle County Democrats, said Lindstrom has been “instrumental” in the exploration of alternative forms of transportation along Interstate 70. Some of the alternative forms of transportation being considered are a mountain monorail and a bus system, though many feel the state Department of Transportation is most likely to widen the highway to reduce traffic congestion between the Vail Valley and Denver.

Lindstrom has been working hard to keep I-70 from “becoming an 8-lane highway,” Marquez said.

“If you want to make CDOT Director Tom Norton red in the face,” Lindstrom added, “just say “Gary Lindstrom.'”

Lindstrom also said he’d like to find out once and for whether magnesium chloride, use to de-ice the interstate, is harmful.

“I’ve been harping about magnesium chloride for years,” Lindstrom added. “CDOT feels mag chloride is safe, cheap and works well. It reduces accidents and keeps the highways open. The Colorado State Forest Service says mag chloride kills trees. CDOT says it doesn’t kill trees. Who is right?”

Lindstrom has served as Summit County commissioner for nearly 10 years. After moving from New York to Colorado more than 30 years ago, Lindstrom has served as a law-enforcement officer, town council member and county coroner. He sits on a variety of boards, including many nonprofit organizations within the district.

“Eagle County needs someone like (Lindstrom) in the state house,” Marquez said. “Our state government is in a crisis, and he is committed to finding real solutions, not Band-Aid fixes, to restore the well-being of the government and, in turn, the people of Colorado.”

Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or at

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