Forum audience outnumbered at Vail event |

Forum audience outnumbered at Vail event

Scott N. Miller

VAIL – Maybe it was the snow. Or the World Series. Whatever the reason, candidates, sponsors and members of the media outnumbered the audience at a Thursday.The forum was sponsored by the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability, the Colorado Environmental Coalition, Colorado Mountain College and Trout Unlimited. In many ways, it was like other forums this fall. Candidates talked about their qualifications, and, in many cases, talked about familiar themes: transportation, the proposed “child services” tax increase, and the environment.Fisher and Brown support different kinds of rail systems for the county; Edwards believes neither rail nor highway widening is the long-term answer to the problem.Edwards is also skeptical about the county’s new “green” building codes, believing the codes aren’t well thought-out. Fisher and Brown support them.All three candidates support the proposed “home rule” charter that would create five county commissioners and do away with partisan elections.Lisa Kraft of East Vail had heard some of the candidates’ positions before. A relative newcomer to the valley, Kraft said she’s particularly interested in housing.

“I have a professional job,” she said. “I own a condo in Lakewood, and it ticks me off that I can’t afford a place here.”Kraft said she thinks she knows how she’ll vote this fall. “But I don’t think I got the answers I wanted about affordable housing.”While the candidates had covered most of the topics in interviews and at previous forums, there was some unfamiliar ground. One question asked about specific state legislation and its effect on water supplies on the Western Slope. All three had to acknowledge their ignorance of the bill. One member of the audience also wrote a question to the candidates about keep local teens out of trouble. Brown said the county could perhaps help create small ski facilities.”If you do that, we can get these kids out a lot, instead of two days a season,” Brown said, referring to the “Learn to Ski” program run by Vail Resorts and the Eagle County School District. “The Hispanic population doesn’t do much skiing. Maybe this could help get them into it.”

Fisher said it’s important to get to kids early to keep them away from drugs and mischief. “We need better programs and educational opportunities,” Fisher said. “It’s a matter of becoming a community again.” But, she added, the county needs to take a “zero tolerance” approach to teen drug use.Edwards pointed to his experience in creating ball fields and a recreation center in Gypsum.”We’re looking for programs to keep kids off the street, to give them something to do,” he said.The small crowd at the forum disappointed moderator Craig Struve.”We’ve increased our buildings, but not our participation,” he said.

Vail resident Judy Gold said she had come to the forum with a pretty good idea of how she’d vote, but wanted to see and hear the candidates in person. She, too, was dismayed by the turnout.”Town hall was packed for Crossroads. It’s too bad no one showed up for this,” she said.”I don’t think the weather’s that bad,” said Gold’s husband, Fred. “I think it’s just general apathy.”Vail Daily Staff Writer Scott Miller can be reached at 748-2930 or at, Colorado

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