Eagle County and state candidates will be at Thursday, Oct. 11, forum at CMC | VailDaily.com

Eagle County and state candidates will be at Thursday, Oct. 11, forum at CMC

Jeanne McQueeney
Special to the Daily

If you go ...

What: Eagle County candidate forum.

When: 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11.

Where: Colorado Mountain College, Edwards.

Who’s talking? Candidates for Eagle County Commissioner, Colorado House District 26 and Colorado Senate District 5.

More information: The event is sponsored by The Vail Daily, Vail Valley Partnership, Vail Board of Realtors, Eagle Chamber of Commerce and Vail Chamber & Business Association. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.

EDWARDS — A local tradition as old as the ballot box revives on Thursday, Oct. 11, with a candidate forum at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards.

Only six candidates will attend, thanks in large part to the fact that there’s just one candidate for all but one county office this fall. The exception is Eagle County commissioner District 3, in which the incumbent, Democrat Jeanne McQueeney, is being challenged by Republican Jacqueline Cartier.

There’s a contested race for Colorado House District 26 — Eagle and Routt counties — in which Republican Nicki Mills is challenging the appointed incumbent, Democrat Dylan Roberts.

In Colorado Senate District 5, a district that includes Eagle, Chaffee, Pitkin, Lake, Gunnison, Delta and Hinsdale counties, Republican Olen Lund, of Paonia, is challenging incumbent Kerry Donovan, a Democrat.

All of the candidates will be told about the topics they’ll discuss, with questions submitted by the sponsors. With the limited time available, no audience questions will be taken.

Big themes discussed

“I think we’ll hit on the big themes,” Vail Valley Partnership CEO Chris Romer said.

Themes will include housing, health care and transportation.

“This is a forum where (candidates) need to think on their feet,” Romer said. That’s a skill an elected official needs, he added.

Much of modern political campaigning relies on various forms of advertising and outreach, from newspaper ads to social media. But Vail Board of Realtors Executive Director Erika Kirk said the forums give voters a chance to meet candidates.

“It’s important for our members and the community,” Kirk said. “It’s super important to know who’s running and to have face-to-face interaction.”

While candidates for local and regional offices do a lot of door knocking, Kirk said meeting a candidate at a forum gives voters a chance to ask more-prepared questions. Those questions will come during a meet-and-greet session before the forum begins.

That time will give voters an opportunity to hear more than a candidate’s prepared pitch.

Diane Mitsch Bush, until this year, represented Colorado House District 26. The Steamboat Springs Democrat resigned that seat to challenge incumbent Republican Scott Tipton to represent Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Speaking by phone during a road trip through the 29-county district, Mitsch Bush said she values in-person forums.

“People can see you up close, they can read your body language, your facial expressions,” Mitsch Bush said. “That’s true for friends, business associates or (candidates).”

‘You need them all’

Mitsch Bush, who successfully ran twice for a seat on the Routt County Board of Commissioners before serving in the Colorado Legislature, said even with easy access to media, forums are an important part of campaigning.

“You need them all,” Mitsch Bush said. “If I want to represent you, I’d better be able to face-to-face answer your questions.”

Eagle County Republican Party Chairwoman Kaye Ferry has a different view of the forums. She’s skeptical about their value.

Ferry said she’d prefer an actual debate format instead of a forum. Questions at those events generally “don’t do anything to change voters’ minds,” Ferry said.

Still, she added, showing up is important. And, she said, this year’s venue is a benefit to challengers, particularly for county offices.

But Romer said he believes in the forum format.

“The professional forum format goes a long way,” Romer said. “You’ll get mailers, or see (candidates) online. … This is one other way to meet these people and verify your vote before (Election Day).”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com or 970-748-2930.

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