Commissioner candidates offer visions for Eagle County
All Eagle County voters votes for all commissioner positions, but those commissioners serve specific districts. Here’s who’s running, and from what district:
District 2 (roughly Eagle to Edwards): Republican Courtney Holm is challenging appointed incumbent Democrat Kathy Chandler-Henry.
District 3 (Gypsum, the Roaring Fork Valley, and northern Eagle County): This is an open seat, with the retirement of Sara Fisher. Democrat Jeanne McQueeney and Republican Dick Mayne are seeking the seat.
EAGLE — There are three seats on the Eagle County Board of Commissioners. Two of them are up for election this fall.
The four candidates shared their view about the county’s present and its future in the commissioners’ meeting room on Tuesday in Eagle.
The evening started with Republican Courtney Holm and Democrat Kathy Chandler-Henry sharing their views and answering questions from moderators Rohn Robbins and Greg Johnson.
Both Holm and Chandler-Henry were born in the valley. Both talked at length about why they stayed, from the environment to the economy.
Questions included how, or if, the county should use rising tax revenues to restore some services or employees lost during the past five years.
Chandler-Henry said the county’s tax collections haven’t yet come back to 2008 levels, so no new spending is expected in the next year or so.
Holm said the county needs to continue to build its reserve funds to help cover emergencies. The county needs to be more efficient while continuing to hold the line on spending.
The candidates were also asked about the county’s open space program and whether that program should be changed.
Holm said the county needs to continue its recent focus on purchasing property that allows public access.
“There’s a difference between a boat ramp and public access versus a ranch that nobody can access, watch or go near,” Holm said.
Chandler-Henry said she believes the county should continue to explore available options. That’s why the county’s Open Space Advisory Committee is important, she said, to help guide the commissioners in spending those funds.
Asked about helping solve problems on Interstate 70, Chandler-Henry said more lanes or a rail system are impractical. It’s important for the county to continue to work with other counties and the Colorado Department of Transportation to continue existing programs and develop new ideas she said.
Holm replied that county officials need to be more involved with state legislators to work on more comprehensive answers, adding that the county’s own roads and sidewalks need work, too.
Local roads was one of the things candidate Dick Mayne talked about when asked about things the county needs to put more attention toward.
Mayne, a Republican, and Jeanne McQueeney, a Democrat, are both running to replace Sara Fisher, who cannot run again due to term-limit laws.
Responding to the same question, McQueeney said the county needs to continue to work to diversify its economic base and create economic development strategies.
Mayne also was born in the county. He is currently a member of the Gypsum Town Council. He cited that experience, and knowledge of the area, as his qualifications.
McQueeney is currently president of the Eagle County School Board and noted that organization has a bigger budget, and bigger staff, than the county. She said she’s been knocking on doors for months, learning what residents expect from the county’s government.
A portion of that door-knocking has been in the Roaring Fork Valley, home to about a quarter of the county’s population.
Responding to a question about how to better represent people in that part of the county, McQueeney said the county needs to be more timely about putting recordings of public meetings on the Internet, but added that simply getting to that part of the county is important.
McQueeney said it might be time again to look into the idea of “home rule,” which would add two commissioners to the board, and have those commissioners elected in their specific districts.
Mayne agreed that being present in other parts of the county is important, adding that people in Gypsum, Vail and Minturn have also felt they aren’t well represented at the county building.
Wrapping up, McQueeney said she wants to see the county “develop into its best self,” adding that she has the skills to work with other communities and organizations to make that happen.
Mayne said he’s spent a lifetime getting to know the county and cited his work on the Gypsum council as examples of how he’d like to help lead the county, “working together for the benefit of everyone.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org and @scottnmiller.