Eagle County Republicans choose local candidates | VailDaily.com

Eagle County Republicans choose local candidates

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY ” Eagle County Republicans say they are ready to take back county government.

The talk was intensely local at the Republican’s County Assembly on Saturday evening as county delegates officially nominated their candidates for county positions and heard from candidates running for state positions.

Chairmen for the county’s 30 precincts were chosen to lead neighborhood efforts and organize caucuses, and delegates volunteered to attend the regional and state assemblies, the next steps in the presidential nomination process.

Discussion from political candidates and delegates centered around local taxes, county-funded programs and the county jail expansion.

“We have got to get the Republicans as energized as the Democrats and get out of our seats and do something!” said Eagle County Republicans Chairman Randy Milhoan.

Former Avon town councilwoman Debbie Buckley and former county commissioner Dick Gustafson both got the party’s support to run for two open county commissioner seats.

Buckley will run against Democrat John Stavney for the District 2 seat, and Gustafson will run against incumbent Democrat Peter Runyon for the District 1 seat.

He wants to change the way current commissioners have been collecting a “tax windfall” and spending it on “pet projects” and land buys, he said.

Gustafson pointed out that as commissioner he was able to build the county buildings, the airport and the Justice Center with minimal tax increases.

“I would like to serve Eagle County, not rule it,” he said, to much applause from the crowd.

Buckley said her focus if she was elected would be reducing taxes and spending money the way that voters want.

She will run on a platform of lowering the county tax rate, providing services to seniors, encouraging the private sector to build affordable housing and making open space buys that are accessible to everyone in the county.

State Rep. District 56 candidate Muhammad Ali Hasan spoke to delegates about supporting lower taxes and his grassroots campaign.

He said that if elected he wants to make the Republican party “the party that listens” by going around the state, opening the party to criticism and finding out what is important to voters.

Al White, a Hayden state representative running for state Senate District 8, and District Attorney Mark Hurlbert, who is running for re-election, also asked for the county’s support.

Hurlbert promised to continue cracking down on violent crimes in the county.

He also talked about the need for an expanded Justice Center, something the county has been trying to fund.

“We are cramped. It is becoming increasingly harder and harder to prosecute crimes effectively,” he said.

Some delegates will go on to the regional assembly and then the Republican State Convention in Broomfield on May 30 and 31.

At the state convention, delegates have a say in what candidates Coloradans will see on the primary ballots.

Of the state delegates, 46 will be chosen to attend the Republican National Convention, where they will help choose the Republican presidential nominee.

Edwards resident Buddy Shipley, who is attending the state convention, said he would like to go to the national convention.

“You can’t really complain about government unless you participate. It’s representative democracy at its best,” he said of the process.

Basalt resident Bill Wallen said he will be attending the regional and state meetings for the first time.

“I just want to be a part of the process, and I want to support our Republican candidates,” he said.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

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