Editorial: Eagle slate is county heavy
Vail Daily Editorial Board
As of this week, four people who draw a paycheck from the Eagle County government have taken out petitions to run for seats on the Eagle Town Board.
The best-known is Commissioner Arn Menconi, who, according to Eagle Town Attorney Ed Sands, could actually hold the mayor’s job in Eagle as well as serve out the remainder of his second and final term as commissioner (if Eagle voters agree, of course ” far from a a sure thing).
But county housing director Alex Potente has also expressed interest in a town board job, as have Yuri Kostick, the county’s “sustainability” director, and David Johnson, a planner with the county’s ECO Transit agency.
It’s one thing for rank-and-file employees such as Kostick and Johnson to run for office (we’ve yet to interview either , so please don’t consider this an endorsement). County employees, including Paul Gregg and Tom Ehrenberg, have previously served well and faithfully on Eagle’s town board.
It’s quite another, though, to consider putting county policy makers on the elected board of a town government.
The most obvious case is that of Menconi, who clearly could be casting votes as commissioner that could affect the town. The reverse could be true, too, but, Sands said, a Mayor Menconi would be required to abstain from voting on issues in which his jobs might conflict. Even if he wasn’t voting, as Eagle’s mayor Menconi could conceivably try to align the town’s agenda with that of the county.
The interests of those two governments have often been different, sometimes markedly so. That isn’t going to change, and shouldn’t. Even over a few months, Menconi could frequently be in a position in which the interests of his county and town constituents would conflict.
To a lesser extent, Potente, who seems to be well thought of by people our reporters talk to, is also involved in making policy. It’s easy to imagine that responsibility to both county residents at large and Eagle residents in particular could make both parts of Potente’s job much harder some days. Also, Potente is charged by his employer, the county, with finding affordable housing solutions. Eagle, on the other hand, is still wrestling with how much of the county’s problem the town should shoulder. Talk
about serving two masters.
The realities of small-town life sometimes require flexibility. A lot of the same dedicated people in the valley often hold elected positions and serve on advisory boards at the same time (In the interest of full disclosure, Pam Schultz, Colorado Mountain News Media’s legal advertising coordinator, holds a position on the Gypsum Town Council).
Again, we believe that a transit planner, or firefighter or paramedic can serve without hesitation on a town council or similar board. But it should raise some eyebrows when people involved in policy decisions for one government seek elective office in another.
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A Nov. 30 to Governor Polis and the Eagle County Commissioners from Beaver Creek Resorts Company – as well as the towns of Vail, Avon, Eagle and Minturn – requests a variance program which would allow businesses to remain open.