Democrats retain commissioner seats
EAGLE COUNTY — At first, Kathy Chandler-Henry had doubts about campaigning for the Eagle County commissioner’s seat she was appointed to fill in 2013. But after she started walking neighborhoods and knocking on doors, she came to like the process.
Chandler-Henry will get another chance to campaign in 2016, if she chooses. Tuesday, county voters elected the Eagle Democrat to her appointed seat. Based on unofficial returns posted at 12:30 a.m. today, Chandler-Henry was leading Republican challenger Courtney Holm by more than 1,100 votes.
Chandler-Henry will serve out the remainder of former District 2 commissioner Jon Stavney’s term. Stavney was elected in 2012, but resigned in 2013 to accept the Eagle Town Manager’s job. County Democrats appointed Chandler-Henry to fill Stavney’s former position. She had to run in the 2014 general election to retain the seat. If she chooses, Chandler-Henry can run in 2016 and in 2020.
Holm, who challenged Stavney in 2012, came up short again Tuesday.
District 3 race
In District 3, Eagle Democrat Jeanne McQueeney and Gypsum Republican Dick Mayne ran to replace Sara Fisher, who had served two terms. Term-limit laws require Fisher to leave office in early January.
McQueeney, currently the president of the Eagle County School Board, expanded her lead as the votes were counted. What started as a 20-vote lead in early returns expanded to 200 by 11 p.m., then to about 445 at the final count early this morning.
The Tuesday vote totals aren’t final. Roughly 150 votes, mainly from members of the military, have yet to be counted.
“I don’t think my campaign could have gone any better,” McQueeney said. “We did everything we could, and did everything we wanted to do.”
Chandler-Henry walked the same neighborhoods all the candidates did. Eagle County commissioners are elected by district — District 2 is roughly Eagle and Edwards, while District 3 is part of Eagle, as well as Gypsum and the Roaring Fork Valley — but are elected by all county voters.
“I was interested in getting people’s opinions on the issues,” Chandler-Henry said. “It was a little like studying for oral (exams) in graduate school. It really forced you to bone up on the issues and think about your positions.”
Chandler-Henry said the county already has a good list of priorities, but there are other issues coming for the board.
Prioritizing Housing, Water
Workforce housing is back as a priority issue, she said. “We’re back to a shortage again,” she said.
The Colorado Water Plan, an attempt to meld plans for all the state’s river basins, is expected to be nearly finished later this year. Chandler-Henry said that because Eagle County is part of the headwaters of the Colorado River, that plan will be critically important to the county’s future.
“We’ve really got to keep up with that,” she said.
Excited to Learn
McQueeney said she’s looking forward to starting to learn more about the job she won Tuesday.
“I plan to talk to the commissioners, to (Fisher) and to Mayne,” McQueeney said.
The fact that she has from now until early January is a “blessing,” McQueeney said.
“When I was elected to the school board, the election was one week, and we were sworn in at the next meeting,” she said.
Reached fairly early in the evening, Mayne said he thought his campaign went “pretty well — there’s a difference in the type of candidate people wanted.”
While there are winners and losers in elections, Chandler-Henry said all the commissioner candidates this year “ran a civil campaign.”
“It was good to see good discussions in the (candidate forums),” she said. “We had some really good debates.”