Commissioner holds seat in 3-way race |

Commissioner holds seat in 3-way race

Veronica Whitney
Vail Daily/Melinda KruseSay hello to Tom Stone, incumbent Eagle County commisioner, on board for another four years

With all precincts and absentee ballots counted Tuesday night, Stone, 49, a Republican, defeated Democrat Gerry Sandberg and Laurie Bower, an independent candidate with 5,021 votes. Sandberg, 59, of Gypsum, got 4,402 votes (39 percent). Bower, 36, of Gypsum, received 1,695 votes (15 percent). These results are unofficial until they are certified by the Eagle County Canvass Board. Results of provisional ballots will be available Thursday. “I’m most pleased that ultimately we won using a clean campaign,” Stone said Tuesday night, referring to a late negative ad campaign against him. “I hope this sends a message to my opponents.” Sandberg, who waited for the results with his family and friends at Fiesta’s Mexican restaurant in Edwards, said if it had been a two-person race it would have been closer. “We made a good run, but the Republicans are very well organized and they have more money,” Sandberg said. “If you combine all that, you fight an uphill battle. But I’m very proud of all the people who stood by me.” Bower said she was disappointed with her results, but said she felt good about the campaign. “I think the important thing now for the county is to support whoever has been elected,” Bower said. “I want to thank all the people who have shown their support and given of their own resources to help the campaign.” The campaign was far from dull with Bower’s late candidacy announcement, Democrats asking Bower supporters to vote for Sandberg, and the Eagle County Democrats turning to a negative ad campaign in the last week before the election. In July Bower, then a housing planner with Eagle County, announced she was running as an independent candidate. She entered the race in August, after having to raise signatures for her nomination twice in a month – 40 of the 180 initial signatures presented to the Eagle County Clerk & Recorder Office were invalid. Two weeks before the election, in an attempt to win over the Unaffiliated vote, the Sandberg camp tried to unify Democrats and independents with the message that a vote for Bower was effectively a vote for Stone. Then, days before election day, the Democratic Party published a negative ad against Stone. Stone said continuing growth, affordable housing and diversification of the economy are main issues in Eagle County. “The most important question we need to ask now is, Where are we going and how we can affect it,” Stone said. Economic development through diversification and redevelopment are viable alternatives to unmanaged growth, Stone said. “Our long-term economic sustainable success will be largely dependent on our ability to shift to job markets other than construction,” he said. To diversify the economy, the county shouldn’t enact regulations against new businesses, Stone said. “Transportation also is key and it’s very good to see the county working to bring customs to Eagle County Regional Airport,” he said. Other goals include building an assisted living center; bringing more summer flights into Eagle County Regional Airport; preserving quality open space along the I-70 corridor; improving communication with the Hispanic and Latin community. Stone, a real estate broker, was elected to the Eagle County Board of Commissioners in 1998. He served as chairman of the board in 2000 and 2001. He serves on several boards and committees and represents Eagle County on the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, Rural Resort Region, Colorado River Water Conservation District, Ruedi Reservoir Water and Power Authority and the Partnership for Education. Stone has raised more money than any other candidate seeking county-level office. In his financial statement for the period between Sept. 13 to Oct. 15, Stone reported contributions totaling $10,724, according to figures supplied to the Eagle County Clerk and Recorder’s Office. In comparison, Democratic challenger Gerry Sandberg reported contributions totaling $5,050, about half of Stone’s campaign war chest. Bower collected $894 in contributions to date. Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at

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