Eagle County voters want financial restraint | VailDaily.com

Eagle County voters want financial restraint

Melanie Wong
Eagle County, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyEagle County Commissioner candidate Jon Stavney does some last-minute campaigning outside Donovan Pavilion in West Vail, Colorado two hours before the polling station closed for voting.

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Sporting an “I voted” sticker on his jacket, Edwards resident Michael Barry left the Singletree Pavilion polling station in Edwards, Colorado, which was surrounded by a flurry of signs for county commissioner candidates.

While many voters’ said their main concern was the presidential race, some said they gave careful thought to the races between Republican Debbie Buckley and Democrat Jon Stavney, who are running for the midvalley commissioner seat, and between Republican Dick Gustafson and Democrat Peter Runyon, who are running for the upvalley seat currently held by Runyon.

Many said they wanted the next board to take care of the county in uncertain economic times, preserve open space and listen to the needs of county residents.

Barry said he voted for Buckley and Gustafson because he thinks the current board is leaning in a “socialist direction.”

He wants a board that will spend conservatively and turn real estate decisions over to the private sector.

“I voted from a business perspective, and we’re about to go into a chilling time in this valley,” Barry said.

He wants to see the county encourage developers to build more middle-income rentals, and turn over the development of for-sale housing to developers as well.

“Government’s role is to incentivize business people to do what they’re good at, not to acquire real estate and develop it,” he said.

Avon resident Luke Southworth said he voted for the two Democratic candidates, and that housing was a concern for him.

He said his impression was that some candidates campaigned for lower property taxes while others focused on providing affordable housing.

“If I had to chose between property taxes and housing, I’d chose housing,” said Southworth, who is a renter.

Barry also said he wants to see different open space buys ” Eagle River Preserve in the core of Edwards, for example, should have been housing, and the open space should have been further downvalley, he said.

Edwards resident Jana Morgan, who declined to say who she voted for, said also thought open space was an important county issue.

“I’m concerned about open space and what it’s used for. I’d like to see someone concerned, who has been here a while and understands our issues, someone with concern overall for the valley,” she said.

Edwards resident Porter Schofield, who said he voted for Buckley and Runyon, agreed, saying he is concerned about all the development in the valley.

“I’m definitely in support of having more open space, especially coming from New York City,” he said. “We’re already overbuilt in certain places.”

Others said they want the next board to spend less money, especially in light of uncertain economic times.

Gypsum resident Steve Keneally pointed to the planned $24 million expansion of the county Justice Center as an example of overspending.

“They’re spending an awful lot of money for what they’re getting,” he said, citing the $435 per foot price tag for the jail portion. “I thought the decision to move forward was hasty. If they’d looked around, maybe they could have found a better price.”

Vail resident Craig Reigal, who voted for both Republican candidates, agreed that the county should spend less.

“I don’t like where some of the money has been spent by the current board. Such as renaming the airport, as one example,” he said, referring to a marketing study for the regional airport which was paid for by Vail Resorts and the county.

He hopes a new board will listen to voters, he said, citing a previous ballot issue where residents voted against a sales tax to fund early-childhood development programs. The county downsized the program and funded it from existing county funds.

“I want them to think twice and be fiscally responsible, no matter what aspect, and don’t be looking for ways to dodge the will of the people,” he said.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

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