Don Rogers: Eagle County races clean this year |

Don Rogers: Eagle County races clean this year

Don Rogers
Vail, CO, Colorado

Less than a week now to Election Day, and it’s great to see Eagle County campaigns still free of real mud.

No postcards lying about personal relationships. No ads exaggerating personal tax records or manufacturing conflicts of interest. No allegations of trying to rig the election. No 527-like fliers lying about Avon. Even the off-camera whispering is muted this year.

When the closest thing to throwing mud is an advertisement claiming the other guy is throwing mud, you know we’re in pretty good shape.

So far, so good.

That’s not to say the commissioner candidates are going easy on each other. But they are doing a good job of sticking to legitimate public issues. I’m just not hearing much about alleged personal foibles.

The questions are sometimes tough, but fair. Plenty are petty or have little real-world connection to how a commissioner would work in office. But at least they concern the record.

Some of it is ill-advised, frankly. Outgoing Commissioner Arn Menconi has a George W. Bush and Bill Clinton problem in that the Republicans can’t contain their glee and Democrats their dismay when he joins the fray. Even free of mud, politics remains a blood sport.

Incumbent Commissioner Peter Runyon can only hope for Republicans to throw real mud at him. I’m convinced that Commissioner Sara Fisher won her seat in 2006 thanks in part to nasty fliers filled with egregious lies about her personal life. Thankfully, voters here don’t go much for nasty tactics.

But questioning a commissioner’s record and habits as a public official is fair game. Sorry, Peter. It’s not mud throwing for a rival to question spending decisions, how controversial items wind up on consent agendas or shake a head at keeping the full amount of a 40 percent increase in property taxes. Peter is mistaking disagreement and even disapproval for personal attacks.

And he’s doing the same thing that offends him, pointing out the flaws he sees in Dick Gustafson’s terms as county commissioner in the late 1980s and early ’90s. Dick’s record is fair game. He might not always appreciate the questions, but he answers them.

Same with Debbie Buckley and Jon Stavney. Debbie had to answer the most personal of the questions asked of local candidates this year. She has the most legitimate reason to complain when asked how she’ll deal with Vail Resorts in light of her husband’s litigation with the company. But she answered that straight up and forthrightly. Good for her.

Stavney has dealt a little with a variant of the McCain “temper” issue. But mainly that’s been from an anti-development advocate who thinks he’s been too friendly to the latest push for a “lifestyle center” on the east side of Eagle. Stavney voted against an early bid to develop the same pastures while mayor, and is out of office now.

And so it goes.

For local smearing, we’ll just have to settle for Republican Ali Hasan having money, living in Beaver Creek and therefore being wholly unsuited for serving in the state House. It seems to work for the Dems. They still don’t seem to be able to make a cogent case for their candidate on her merits for all their scorn for Hasan.

That’s too bad, because Christine Scanlan is credible, and a safe choice if you like how the Democrats are running the state these days. I admit I’m more than a little grumpy at their thirst for more tax money myself. I’m liking Douglas Bruce and TABOR more and more by the minute, seeing what I view as the Democrats abusing their opportunity to run my property tax bill up by a good 50 percent.

I take that as a personal attack ” on my wallet.

Don Rogers is the editor and associate publisher of the Vail Daily, Vail Trail and Eagle Valley Enterprise. He can be reached at 748-2920 or

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