Gustafson talks money, economy |

Gustafson talks money, economy

EDWARDS, Colorado ” This year’s county commissioner election has everything to do with money.

That was the message republican Dick Gustafson ” a former commissioner who is running against incumbent democrat Commissioner Peter Runyon for the upvalley seat ” delivered to local business owners Friday at a campaign event in Edwards.

“My opponent thinks that this particular election has nothing to do with money,” Gustafson said. “I couldn’t disagree more … that’s exactly what we have a problem with.”

Gustafson compared the national economic picture to that of Eagle County, criticizing the governments $700 billion economic rescue package and financial decisions made by the current commissioners. It’s the misuse of money they have in common, he said.

The bailout plan contains too many add-ons and doesn’t provide enough control over the money the government is asking for, Gustafson said.

“They seem to think it’s a Christmas tree to hang their special projects on,” he said.

And the reckless lending by banks that led to the national rescue package is representative of the situation in Eagle County, Gustafson said.

But the county’s problem is affordable housing, Gustafson added.

“There’s a microcosm of that exact same thing going on in Eagle County,” Gustafson said of country’s economic issues. “We have a board that is obsessed with affordable housing to the extent that they want to be the developer and they want to have control of it.”

It’s causing the county problems, Gustafson said.

“They’re giving sub-prime loans to people that probably shouldn’t own homes,” he said. “There are a lot of people in the United States that just flat out shouldn’t own a home.”

The county needs more rental property, said Gustafson, who criticized the commissioners proposed $53-million sale of the Lake Creek Village apartments.

Commissioners want to sell the affordable rental complex and spend the money on other affordable housing projects, such as paying for Stratton Flats in Gypsum, buying land, or senior assisted-living, officials said.

“Why they’re getting rid of the only rental property that the county is involved in ” I can’t even fathom why they’re doing that.”

A public hearing on the proposed sale of the affordable housing project is set for 5:45 p.m., Monday at the Eagle County building.

AnneMarie Finn, owner of The Kitchen and Linen Source, asked Gustafson what he could do to combat big box development she said could hurt small business owners.

Unfortunately, the big box developments popping up aren’t in portions of the county governed by the commissioners, Gustafson said.

“A lot of this is going on within city limits,” he said. “The county commissioner has no control over what goes on in other communities.”

Alice Leeds, who runs Convention Concepts Inc. and GetawayPlanners, said she was pleased with Gustafson’s attention to business owners.

“He has sound and ethical judgment to look at business,” Leeds said.

Gustafson said he thinks it’s only a matter of time before the national economic struggles trickle down to Eagle County.

“What’s happening in Washington right now has a very strong impact on what’s going to happen in Eagle County not too long from now,” he said. “We haven’t had a lot of foreclosures yet in Eagle County because we’re a little bit of an island in this sea of confusion, but it’ll eventually catch up to us.”

Staff Writer Chris Outcalt can be reached at 970-748-2931 or

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