Eagle County GOP kicks off fall campaign | VailDaily.com

Eagle County GOP kicks off fall campaign

Randy Wyrick

Stone, the Republican incumbent, faces Democratic challenger Gerry Sandberg, an investigator for the District Attorney’s Office.

Eagle County Republicans also bid their official farewell to U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Grand Junction, and state Rep. Al White, R-Winter Park. Neither will represent Eagle County officially any longer because of redistricting at the state and national levels.

“We will always represent this district,” said White. “They can take away the votes, but never the representation.”

Stone said his will be a campaign of “promises kept.”

“Thanks for giving me the opportunity to serve, and for giving me the chance to try to continue serving,” said Stone.

In addressing the enthusiastic GOP crowd, Stone pointed to three of his major accomplishments through his first four years in office:

n Youth Conservation Corps: Stone helped find funding from the U.S. Forest Service for the youth fund-raising program. It was created during the upheaval over the White River National Forest management plan revisions. Stone called it an opportunity for youth to earn money for their organizations. Among them was the Eagle Valley High School choir, which raised money to compete in California. While they were there they sang at a Shrine Hospital for children.

n Seniors: Stone was instrumental in getting the ball rolling for an assisted living complex in Eagle.

“We’re committed to getting it done as quickly as possible,” he said.

n Environment: Stone pointed out that his college degree is in biological and environmental management, and said he has toured the sites of almost every major forest fire that hit Colorado this summer.

He said every Coloradan owes a debt of gratitude to the firefighters for their work fighting those fires. He added that misguided forest management in some cases made those firefighters’ work more difficult and dangerous.

“Around our community we don’t just care about trees, we care about people,” he said.

McInnis called Stone’s work on behalf of Eagle County exemplary, but said Stone is not without his political enemies.

“The radicals are all focused on Tom,” said McInnis.

Their opposition to sensible forest management, McInnis said, has done more harm than good. He said opposition to thinning forests and removing blown down timber made the still burning Trappers Lake Fire in the Flat Tops, which burned down a lodge and some cabins, so extensive.

McInnis also praised Stone for his work on the White River National Forest management plan, calling for public hearings that helped shape changes in the plan’s draft.

“Tom did the background and footwork for Eagle County,” said McInnis. “He made sure Eagle County was represented in the forest plan. It’s so important to continue to have Tom working for Eagle County.”

White praised Stone’s advocacy on issues facing Eagle County.

“The issues we face remain the same, and revolve around protecting Western Slope water, tourism, recreation and agriculture,” said White. “Tom is known and respected at the state and national levels as caring and competent.”

Stone was elected to his first term as commissioner in 1998.

Assistant Managing Editor Randy Wyrick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 615, or at rwyrick@vaildaily.com

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