Giving power to the people |

Giving power to the people

Peter Runyon
Vail CO, Colorado

Whoa, as mothers say everywhere, “Time out!” Let’s sort out the fact from fiction on home rule. While I’m sure the opponents of home rule believe that they have legitimate concerns, they have stooped to using the lowest campaign tactics possible. Fear mongering, misrepresentation, and lies.

1) Eagle County was named “Best Run County” by Colorado Counties, Inc. True. But the whole story is that that “award” was given during a contest held by that organization in which Eagle County was the only contestant. It is the equivalent to the little white ribbon kindergarteners are given at a track meet for “participation.” Truth is, we don’t know just how good Eagle County is compared to other Colorado counties.

2) The Home Rule Charter doesn’t allow enough room for citizen initiative. Arguably so. But the truth is it allows more citizen initiate than we have now. Simple logic shows this to be the weakest of arguments. We don’t want it because it doesn’t go far enough? I’ll wager that if it were easier to put forward citizen initiatives they would object to that.

3) “Rogue boards” of 3-2 mix will abuse its powers. Excuse me? First, it is a lot easier to have a 2-1 “rogue board.” But more importantly, by the state constitution, home-rule counties have no additional powers than do statutory counties. Too risky? Fear mongering at its finest.

4) Two lawyers from the two existing home rule counties expressed negative opinions about home rule. Maybe, but my recollection is that it was split, one for and one against. Regardless of what the lawyers may have said, every commissioner and citizen from those counties with whom I have spoken all support their home-rule charter. Since when do we listen to lawyers to the exclusion of others?

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The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

5) It is too expensive. Like Bill Clinton asked, “What do you mean by too?” Is it too expensive to have better representation? Is it too expensive to engage five minds rather than three to decide how to spend the people’s money? Is it too expensive to have better management, which could very well lead to savings? Is it too expensive to minimize the risk of ego driven commissioners pet projects? Even the wildest projections of increased costs are less than 1 percent of the over all budget. This is for a budget that has grown by 6 percent per year for the past 10-plus years.

6) Only two other counties have chosen home rule. True, but two others have chosen the more self-determining option of “city and county” and two have chosen five commissioners through statute (an option not possible for Eagle County until after the 2020 census). Finally, of Colorado’s 64 counties, more than 40 have populations under 30,000. Clearly, they don’t need five commissioners.

I could go on, but perhaps the most outrageous claim is that we (I) are just trying to increase our power. Huh? I currently hold one-third of the vote and I want to reduce it to one-fifth. I’m reducing my power for the sake of better representational government, not increasing it. So please vote yes on home rule. Don’t be swayed by fear mongering. Don’t be blinded by smoke and mirrors. For more information, go to

Peter Runyon is an Eagle County Commissioner.

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