Gypsum councilman enters commission race |

Gypsum councilman enters commission race

Daily file photoGypsum Town Councilman Tom Edwards, a Republican, is the fifth candidate to join the race for outgoing County Commissioner Tom Stone's seat.

GYPSUM ” Tom Edwards’ interests are expanding.

Edwards, a Gypsum Town Council member, announced this week he’s running for Eagle County Commissioner. Edwards is the fifth candidate to appear in the race to replace current commissioner Tom Stone, who is in the last year of his second term.

Edwards is the third Republican to announce his candidacy, along with Hugo Benson of Gypsum and Michael Bair of Basalt. Sara Fisher, a Democrat from Gypsum, is also running, as is Roger Brown, an independent candidate who lives just outside of Gypsum.

Like Brown, Edwards has to get on the ballot by petition. He needs 199 signatures to get a place on the August primary ballot.

Edwards didn’t exactly bypass the just-finished county caucus and assembly process. He just came late to the party.

“It was a tough decision. That’s why I was so late,” he said. “I didn’t speak up at the assembly because I didn’t feel like I could get enough support.”

Edwards said he’s running a campaign based on “accountability, balance and collaboration.”

Balance is particularly important to him, and with Democrats Peter Runyon and Arn Menconi on the three-person board until 2008, Edwards said he believes he can balance their views, while still keeping a civil relationship with them.

“I think I could be influential, not confrontational, as a county commissioner,” he said.

Edwards said he can bring something to the county seat that’s missing now.

“I’m going to bring the perspective of the towns and metro districts,” he said. In his campaign platform, Edwards writes that unincorporated areas of the county should be treated as if they were towns.

As a member of the Gypsum Town Council, Edwards has often been in meetings with county officials, and said he can help the county work better with its neighbors.

“But I’m not sure I have any drastic program for change in mind,” he said.

As a town council member, Edwards has been through his share of political battles. The biggest was a fight over the approval of the Chatfield Corners subdivision in town.

A group of residents forced a special election on the issue, and campaigned hard against the new development. In the end, nearly two-thirds of the town’s voters upheld the council’s decision.

“It was gratifying to see the council’s decision ratified by the people in town,” he said.

Edwards also campaigned for a sales tax increase to build the town’s new recreation center. That ballot issue was also approved by nearly two-thirds of the town’s voters.

In a couple of instances, though, Edwards has been on the losing side of ballot issues. He opposed the county open space tax, believing that a sales tax, not a property tax, was more appropriate.

When voters approved the new tax, Edwards applied for a spot on the county committee that reviews applications for spending the open space fund.

He also opposed the Eaton Ranch purchase, with the view that the commissioners could have, and should have, approved a plan that would have allowed construction on part of the property while preserving the rest as open space.

Now, though, he’s on the committee that manages the property.

“I just think once it’s been determined something’s going to happen, let’s make it good,” he said.

Edwards’ work on county projects came gradually.

“I feel like I’m interested in what’s going on in the county now, and not just in Gypsum,” he said.

Of course, there’s been plenty going on in Gypsum over the seven years he’s been on the council. Like the rest of the county, the town has been growing fast.

Using sales tax that comes mostly from cars rented at the airport, the town has built a town hall, a park with an amphitheater, and the recreation center.

The town also recently forged a deal that will bring a Costco store to town.

“I’ve said I could live here if nothing had happened, or if something was happening,” he said. “We need growth, but I don’t want it to develop too fast. And I want it to develop as a community.”

Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14624, or

Vail Daily, Vail Colorado

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