Gustafson: A duty to run |

Gustafson: A duty to run

Dick Gustafson
Vail CO, Colorad

Voters have a right to know and understand the candidates running for public office. You also should have a clear understanding of the differ-ences between oppos-ing candidates.

I respect and like my opponent. However, our policy and approach toward the use of taxpayer dollars and open government are substantially differ-ent.

Here are just a few of our differences: 1. As a previous commissioner, I con-stantly worked to make the best use of your tax dollars. My record is clear. We received millions of dollars from the FAA to build and expand our airport. We made it grow from a small taxpay-er investment. There are many other examples. By comparison, I find it wasteful and irresponsible spending of your money to hire a consultant to potentially change the airport’s name. 2. The voters spoke loud and clear:

“Do not spend our hard-earned mon-ey on new programs for what was loosely called ‘early-childhood devel-opment.'” Is our government no longer a representative government? I don’t find it to be a “modest compromise” to ignore the will of the voters and spend an additional $800,000 on some-thing that you, the voter, voted “no” on.

3. This Board of Commis-sioners refused to lower the mill levy, thus raising your property taxes an average of more than 40 percent county-wide. This unprecedented huge increase in your property taxes was neither necessary nor just. Once again, my record is clear. I would have voted to lower the mill levy (property-tax rate). Our level of services and our staffing levels would have remained the same. As we experience difficult economic times, our government should tighten its belt, too, and let you keep as much of your income as pos-sible for you to spend as you see fit.

4. We have lost trust in our county government. Ignoring the will of the voters, unnecessary taxation and numerous closed-door meetings (that we are barred from hearing) all work to lose our trust. As a commissioner, I will return our government to one that seeks public input and listens to that input. I will host monthly town hall meetings in the Roaring Fork Valley, as I did when I was commissioner. I would have not rushed to expand the Justice Center on a fast-track basis. (The original building was fast-tracked, and it cost the taxpayers plenty because of multiple change orders.) I would have convened a citizens’ group to study our various options and make a sensible decision.

5. Work force housing needs gov-ernment cooperation ” not govern-ment controls. When I owned The Hardware Store in Vail, I didn’t count on government to house my employ-ees. I bought a place that my employ-ees could call home. I personally engaged a lawyer to review the Strat-ton Flats contract with the county. The summary: It’s a “great deal” for the developer and a “risky deal” for the county. With a bachelor’s degree in economics, an MBA in finance and some good common sense, I will not allow us to unnecessarily risk your money.

6. Having served eight years before as your county commissioner, I understand pressures from special-interest groups. I did not cave into those pressures then, and I will not cave in to those pressures now. I am beholden only to you.

I am running again for public office because I feel that I have a duty to do so. I have an obligation to help get this county back on track. When I get up in the morn-ing, I can look back on the past with pride, but I also look at the present with great con-cern. What keeps me going is unfailing hope and positive vision for the future.

I know that with your votes, I can help to leave Eagle County to my children, grand-children, and to you, that will be a proud example.

You can learn more about me at www.

Republican Dick Gustafson, who served as county commissioner from 1984 to 1993, is running for county commissioner against Democrat Peter Runyon, the incumbent.

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