County voters have say on ‘home rule,’ smoking |

County voters have say on ‘home rule,’ smoking

Scott N. Miller

EAGLE COUNTY – Sometime Tuesday night, perhaps before David Letterman finishes his monologue, local residents should know the results of a pair of countywide ballot issues.

The first asks county voters to approve a commission to write a “home rule” charter. If the ballot question passes, an 11-member board will spend much of the next year researching and writing a new county charter to reform the structure of the county government. That charter, which could include an expansion of the board of county commissioners from three to five members, would then have to be approved by voters.The campaign has been mostly limited to yard signs and letters to newspapers. Citizens for Eagle County’s Future, a group opposed to the measure, used a mass-calling service in mid-October, to present the potential problems home rule could create. The group wasn’t registered with the Eagle County Clerk and Recorder’s Office when the calls were made, a violation of state campaign laws. The group, which registered after the calls were made may be liable for a $50 fine.The home rule issue has also created a large field of candidates running for seats on the commission, with 21 people running for 11 volunteer jobs.The most-mentioned change home rule could bring is more county commissioners. Opponents, though, worry about other changes a new charter could bring, including the cost of adding more commissioners, as well as turning at least some of the county’s now-elected positions into county departments with heads appointed by the commissioners. Voters would get the ultimate call on any charter, though, and the last county in the state to adopt such a charter was Pitkin County in 1978. The proposed smoking ban isn’t actually a ban. Rather, it’s the Eagle County Commissioners asking voters for permission to pass such a ban. If that measure passes, the commissioners would presumably act quickly to ban smoking in the county. That ban, though, would apply only to areas including Beaver Creek, Eagle-Vail, Edwards and El Jebel. But Commissioner Peter Runyon has said he hopes if county voters approve the ballot measure, that the towns will pass bans of their own. That is essentially what happened in Summit County, where the county, then the towns passed smoking bans. The entire county went smoke-free on June 1, 2004.Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14624, or Daily, Vail Colorado

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