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Candidate focused on controlling growth

Veronica Whitney

If he is elected Eagle County commissioner, Democrat Peter Runyon said he will put an emphasis on how the county grows.

“Some of the development we have is ill-advised,” said Runyon, 59, of Edwards, who is vying for the seat currently held by Michael Gallagher of Minturn. “How we get to the end point of development is the most critical. I’d like to create a bipartisan commission to explore establishing a set of rules that will more strictly control growth in the county.”

At a party at the Mustang Bar & Grill in Edwards Thursday night, Runyon officially launched his campaign for Gallagher’s seat, which represents Vail, Minturn, Red Cliff and parts of Avon, Eagle-Vail and Edwards. Gallagher has not yet announced whether he’ll run for re-eleciton.



If Gallagher decides to run again, voters will be able to vote for him and Runyon at Tuesday’s Democratic party caucus. The race could be decided on caucus or this summer at the party’s primary. Republican Richard De Clark, 46, of Edwards, will challenge the Democratic nominee for the seat in November.

Though the commission seats are divided into districts, county voters can cast a ballot for a candidate in each district.



Runyon said there has been some dysfunction on the current commission.

“The current county commissioners seem unable to work together as a team,” Runyon said. “I will work with all the commissioners.

“Politics is all about compromise – that doesn’t mean I don’t want to work for what is important,” he said. “I’ll fight as hard as the next guy for my position, but I’ll honor people’s rights to have a difference of opinions.”



Runyon, who moved to Vail in 1970 and worked for 10 years as Vail Associate’s staff photographer, now owns two postcard and souvenir companies. He also serves on the advisory board for Colorado Mountain College and he is a member of the Vail Eagle Valley chapter of Rotary International. He has been married to his wife, Beth, for six years.

“Peter has been preparing himself by learning as much as he can about the county over the past year,” said Debbie Marquez, a chairwoman of the Eagle County Democratic Party. “He seems to have a good grasp of what’s going on in the county and what would his role be if he was elected. The voters have a good choice this year between Peter and Michael (Gallagher), if he runs.”

Gallagher caught some flack from local Democrats two years ago when he endorsed Republican County Commissioner Tom Stone in his race against Democrat Gerry Sandberg and Laurie Bower, an independent.

Runyon said he will work to preserve the quality of the county’s streams and rivers.

“I’ll also try to attract to the area high-end, environmentally friendly businesses that pay middle class wages rather than low-paying service industries,” he said.

Runyon also would like to change the county charter to have five commissioners on the board instead of three, he said.

“That would allow more communication between the commissioners because if there are five, the quorum is three,” he said. Currently, the quorum is two.

Runyon said he has a “historical perspective” on the valley.

“In my job as a photographer, I’ve been an observer. But, while I’ve been here a long time, I’ve got a new perspective,” he said. “I’m most dedicated to making this valley become the best valley that it can become and that we don’t kill the goose which lay the golden egg by over-development.”

County Commissioner Arn Menconi’s seat is also being contested this year. Challengers for the seat – which represents parts of Avon, Edwards and Eagle – include former sheriff A.J. Johnson, a Republican, and Avon Mayor Buz Reynolds, an independent, though candidates can still enter the race.

Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454 or at vwhitney@vaildaily.com.


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