Eagle County ballot questions: Term limits, pot shops
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Minturn resident Jean Crowder isn’t going to have a problem deciding what to vote for when it comes to allowing medical marijuana dispensaries within the town of Minturn and within Eagle County.
“Anything that brings a taxable dollar to Minturn should be allowed in,” Crowder said. “This town needs money.”
There are two countywide initiatives on this year’s ballot – one concerns medical marijuana dispensaries and the other concerns county commissioner term limits.
The county ballot question over medical marijuana will not decide anything, though – the vote is more like a poll on voters to see where they stand. The county commissioners will ultimately decide what to do with medical marijuana dispensaries.
“I believe that on an issue like this, people have a right to weigh in and I will absolutely work to support whatever direction they give us,” County Commissioner Peter Runyon said.
In Minturn, voters will decide whether medical marijuana dispensaries should be banned within the town limits. Crowder said word around town is that people are overwhelmingly in favor of allowing dispensaries to operate in town.
“Tax it and regulate it,” she said.
Sean Rosehill, a Minturn resident, said the income that medical marijuana could potentially bring to town would be worth it. He also thinks those who truly need medical marijuana shouldn’t have to drive 30 miles to get it.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Rosehill said, adding that he doesn’t smoke marijuana.
Voters in every town and unincorporated area of Eagle County will decide whether county commissioners should be allowed to serve three terms rather than the two terms they’re currently allowed to serve.
All three county commissioners – Runyon, Sara Fisher and Jon Stavney – were in favor of adding this question to the ballot because they say time is important when serving in that office.
Runyon, who brought up the idea, also said he has no intention of running for a third term should the measure pass.
“I truly believe that no matter what the organization – whether it’s a business, a county job or an elected official – you do not fire that person just because a time has passed,” Runyon said. “You do not want to get rid of good people for some arbitrary reason.”
Fisher, who is up for election next week for what would be her second term, also said she wouldn’t seek a third term. Stavney, who is serving his first term, said it’s too early for him to say whether he’s even running for a second term.
Stavney said the commissioners chose to put a three-term limit question to the voters, rather than a ban on term limits all together, because they’re cautious about creating career politicians.
That’s why Bill VanLoon, of Avon, isn’t too fond of the term limit question. He said he thinks politicians should have one or two terms and then it’s time to find a new job.
David Scronski, also of Avon, said he doesn’t tend to trust politicians and believes only a very small percentage are honest.
“If the individual is honest, then yeah, they deserve another term,” Scronski said.
Fisher said relationships that politicians build while in office take time to develop, and allowing the option for voters to elect those officials for another term is something that benefits everyone, she said.
She points to Runyon as an example. He was recently elected to chair a regional transit authority group – a role that took several years for him to get.
“The reason he was elected is because over the last four to five years he has earned the respect of the other communities through his participation and involvement,” Fisher said.
Runyon said it takes an entire term just to become good at the job.
“The nature of politics is making contacts,” Runyon said. “This is not a self-serving thing.”
The ballot measure asking county voters about medical marijuana dispensaries is merely a poll – the votes won’t actually create a law of any kind, but they will guide the county commissioners as they make the final decision on the matter.
While the towns of Gypsum, Vail and Avon have banned dispensaries outright, the county commissioners decided they wanted to hear from the voters before deciding what to do.
“This will give us better understanding to how the registered voters in Eagle County feel about the presence of the shops that are here today,” Fisher said. “Medical marijuana became legal in the first place by a vote of the people, so we thought it’s only appropriate to ask our voters where their minds are on this now.”
Eagle-Vail resident Rita Tasnadi hopes voters speak out against it. She said medical marijuana is just an “excuse for stoners to get legal marijuana.”
Sean McEnroe, of Eagle-Vail, hopes voters speak out in favor of medical marijuana. If it were up to McEnroe, all drugs would be legalized.
“I think it’s the land of liberty. Government has no say in what we do to our own bodies,” McEnroe said.
Runyon said that while 70 percent of Eagle County voters voted in favor of legalizing medical marijuana back in 2000, 10 years is too long to go without asking voters again.
“I want to get a sense of whether 70 percent (of the voters) still think this is a good idea,” Runyon said. “I actually believe it should be legalized, taxed and regulated. I happen to think a lot fewer people who are stoned beat their wives than who are drunk, yet we’re perfectly happy with alcohol.”
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.