Choose your candidates, Eagle County |

Choose your candidates, Eagle County

Melanie Wong
Eagle County, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Eagle County, Colorado voters will have a sizable list of races and amendments to decide on when they hit the polls on Tuesday.

Besides the presidential race, voters will also choose U.S. and State senate representatives, county and town leaders, and decide more than a dozen state amendments and referendums. Here’s a run down of the issues and races

Eagle County Commissioner, District 1: Republican and former commissioner Dick Gustafson, of Vail, will face Democrat and incumbent Peter Runyon, of Edwards.

– Runyon is running his campaign on managing growth, correcting the balance between second homes and locals housing, and transportation. Four new roundabouts planned for the Edwards interstate exit are the result of the county working with Edwards leaders and the state, he said.

– Gustafson said he wants to see less spending by commissioners, lower property taxes and he is against the county building affordable housing and providing child care. Instead, the county should encourage private businesses to provide those things, he said. He says the county needs more rental housing, not more for-sale housing.

County Commissioner, District 2: Republican and former Avon Town Council member Debbie Buckley will face and Democrat and former Eagle mayor Jon Stavney for the seat vacated by term-limited Arn Menconi.

– Stavney wants the county to be very involved with building and providing affordable housing. He defended the recent property tax hike as necessary for a growing county. He advocates for or developing in already urbanized areas.

– Buckley also wants to lower property taxes, and calls for less spending and better transparency on the board of commissioners. She also believes the county should be encouraging the private sector to build workforce housing and provide child care. She wants to get citizens more involved in county business.

Avon Town Council: Five candidates are running for three council spots. Kristi Ferraro, an attorney, and Amy Phillips, who works in ad sales, are the two incumbents running for re-election.

Buz Reynolds, a builder and former mayor and councilman, has expressed worry about the building in Avon in the current economy.

Karri Willemssen, who works in property management, has taken a focus on providing more affordable housing in Avon.

Sharon Peach, an anesthesiologist, has spoken out as a big supporter of Avon’s Main Street project.

U.S. Senator: The race is between Republican Bob Schaffer and Democrat Mark Udall for the seat vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Wayne Allard.

– Energy ” Schaffer advocates oil production as well as wind and natural gas. Udall wants a more grassroots approach that invests in renewable technology.

Schaffer also calls for tapping into Western Slope oil shale as an energy source while Udall has expressed environmental concerns about shale extraction.

– Immigration ” Schaffer wants to give grants to states and cities in order to help enforce illegal immigration laws.

Udall wants to increase border-patrol agents and build a wall where needed on the U.S.-Mexico border. He also pushes for streamlining a path to citizenship for those who want to come into the country and work legally.

U.S. Representative, District 2: The race is between Republican Scott Starin, a Boulder engineer, and Democrat Jared Polis, a Boulder entrepreneur.

Starin focused on:

– Environment ” He wants to focus on new technology and utilizing high-efficiency energy solutions with an emphasis on recycling technology.

– Education ” He wants to strengthen the schools with an emphasis on science, math, education and health care.

– Health care ” He wants to reform the system with “modern reporting tools, increased competition and reduction of regulations that drive overhead,” according to his Web site.

Polis focused on:

– Education ” He wants to reform and fund the No Child Left Behind Act, raise teacher pay and focus on early-childhood development.

– Immigration ” He supports a pathway to citizenship for qualifying immigrants, tightening border security and work-site enforcement, and setting aside more visas based on needed education and skills.

State Senate, District 8: Hayden Republican and state Rep. Al White is running against Steamboat Springs Democrat Ken Brenner.

– Both candidates have a focus on water conservation.

– Brenner wants to investigate gas price regulation, while White said the solution is more competition.

– Brenner said he supports long-term solutions to Interstate 70 traffic and wants to work on finding funding, while White said first “choke points” must be fixed, then the state should look at a reworking of the whole interstate, including some form of mass transportation.

State Representative, House 56: Democrat and incumbent Christine Scanlan of Summit County faces challenger and Republican Muhammad Ali Hasan of Beaver Creek.

– Pine beetle ” Scanlan supports securing federal funding for local projects on the forest’s fringes, while Hasan wants less regulation of local management of national forests.

– I-70 ” Hasan says his first priority will be to push for a high-speed monorail system from Denver International Airport to Gypsum, a project that could be funded partially by a tax. However, Scanlan said the costs for an immediate monorail are too high.

She wants to study the possibility and add more lanes in the meantime.

Note: 14 questions will appear on the ballot, but amendments 53, 55, 56 and 57 have been pulled and votes on those measures will not be counted.

Amendment 46: The amendment would prohibit Colorado governments from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to any person or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public employment, public education or public contracting.

Some exceptions would remain for federal programs, court orders and other legally binding agreements.

Opponents say discrimination still exists and that the amendment would do away with programs that help correct past discrimination.

Supporters say the amendment prevents discrimination by removing preferential treatment based on gender and race. That sort of treatment can lead to resentment and treats women and minorities as if they cannot succeed on their own. Preferential treatment for a group is outdated, they say.

Amendment 47: This amendment would prohibit requiring an employee to join and pay dues or fees to a labor union as a condition of employment. Any violation of the proposed amendment would lead to a misdemeanor penalty.

Supporters say banning union mandatory membership and dues gives employees the freedom to choose how to participate in union activities. Implementing the law could make Colorado more business friendly, they say.

Opponents say states with laws like Amendment 47 are often viewed as less worker friendly. Implementation of the law would leave labor unions with fewer resources and make them less effective in standing up for employees, opponents argue.

Amendment 48: This would define a “person” to include “any human being from the moment of fertilization.”

Supporters say it ensures that all human life, beginning at the moment of fertilization, is afforded fair and equal treatment and that it would establish a legal foundation to end abortion in Colorado.

Those opposed say it would interfere with people’s ability to make private health decisions and that it could interfere with the doctor-patient relationship. They also say the amendment could limit access to abortions and prohibit medical care, including emergency contraception, commonly used forms of birth control, and treatments for cancer, tubal pregnancies and infertility.

Amendment 49: This amendment would prohibit deductions from public employee paychecks with the exception of those required by federal law, tax withholdings, leins and garnishments, health benefits and other insurance, savings, and contributions to tax-exempt organizations.

Supporters say the amendment will eliminate conflict of interests when elected officials deduct money for politically active groups, and this would give employees the freedom to contribute to organizations of their own choice.

Opponents say the amendment is inconsistent when it comes to what deductions are prohibited, and that all employees currently have the choice to cancel automatic deductions anyway.

Amendment 50: This would allow residents of Central City, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek to vote to extend casino hours, add games and increase the maximum single bet limit. The additional revenue would benefit Colorado community colleges.

Amendment 51: This amendment would increase the state sales and use tax to raise money for services for people with developmental disabilities. The money would help eliminate what are now long waiting lists for the services.

Amendment 52: This amendment asks whether voters want to allocate severance taxes ” a tax on the state’s non-renewable resources that are removed from the ground ” on highway projects, especially for relieving congestion on Interstate 70.

Right now, the revenue is split evenly between the Department of Local Affairs and the Department of Natural Resources. If passed, the amendment would shift a portion of the natural resources money to a fund for highway construction and maintenance.

The change would provide an estimated $225 million for highway projects over the next four years.

Amendment 54: This measure would prohibit government contractors from contributing to a political party for the contract’s duration and two years thereafter. It would also prohibit contributors to ballot issue campaigns from entering into government contracts relating to the ballot issue.

Supporters say the measure would help eliminate no-bid contracts given to companies who have contributed to a particular party or person. They say it ensures that business interests, labor and other covered government contractors do not influence policy decisions through campaign contributions.

Opponents say the measure is too far-reaching and could penalize someone with a government contract with one local government for making a contribution to a candidate in a separate jurisdiction. The penalties are too severe, and it could have negative impacts on projects requiring specialized services, they say.

Amendment 58: This measure would increase the state severance tax paid by oil and gas companies, by removing a state tax credit.

The measure is expected to increase state severance tax collection by $321 million in 2010. Right now Colorado’s severance tax is the lowest of the eight large-producing western states when each state’s exemptions, deductions and credits are taken into account.

State programs and local governments that currently receive all of the state severance tax revenue will evenly split 44 percent of all the collected severance taxes if 58 passes.

The rest would go to college scholarships for lower- and middle-income students, acquisition and maintenance of wildlife habitats, energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, transportation projects, and small-community drinking water and domestic wastewater treatment.

Supporters say the oil and gas industry is experiencing record profits and there is no longer a need for the property tax credit they currently use.

Opponents say it could negatively affect the economy of the state and the industry, making Colorado unattractive to oil and gas investments, especially as the state considers new rules for energy production.

Amendment 59: The measure would eliminate rebates that taxpayers receive when the state collects more money than it is allowed, and spend the money on pre-school through 12th grade education. It would also eliminate a required inflationary increase for preschool through 12th grade education. The measure would also set aside money in a new savings account for education in the state.

Supporters say the measure provides a future source of money for educating students without raising taxes. A savings account for education protects Colorado’s schools and other state programs during economic downturns, supporters argue.

Opponents say it permanently eliminates all future Taxpayers Bill of Rights rebates to taxpayers. It would also eliminate guaranteed funding increase for education and places future funding at the discretion of the state legislature.

Referendum L: This lowers the age requirement for serving in the state legislature from 25 to 21.

Referendum M: This removes a provision that allows the state to delay taxing land value increases from planting hedges, orchards and forests on private lands.

Supporters say the law is obsolete, but opponents say it the measure could hinder future attempts to encourage reforestation.

Referendum N: This removes provisions related to the regulation of alcohol. The provisions have to do with the state’s ability to prohibit and regulate the production and selling of impure alcohol.

Supporters say the measure would remove outdated language and not affect the state’s ability to regulate alcohol in the state. Opponents say the provisions have historical significance.

Referendum O: The measure would decrease the number of signatures required to place a statutory ballot initiative on the ballot and increase the number of signatures required to place a constitutional initiative on the ballot.

It would require that eight percent of signatures for constitutional initiatives be gathered from each congressional district and that drafts of proposed constitutional initiatives be submitted for review earlier in the year. It would also extend the time period for the collection of signatures for statutory initiatives, along with increasing the number of votes required for the Legislature to change a statutory initiative for five years after the statute takes effect.

Supporters say the referendum encourages citizens to propose statutory initiatives rather than constitutional initiatives. They also say requiring signatures from each congressional district ensures that citizens from across the state support measures before they are placed on the ballot.

Opponents argue that the referendum makes it much more difficult and expensive for citizens to initiate constitutional initiatives. They also say that requiring signatures from each congressional district could enable one part of the state to block a change favored by the rest of the state.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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