Home rule candidate questions
EAGLE COUNTY – If voters approve creating a county home rule commission Nov. 1, an 11-member board will spend much of next year working on a proposal for a new county charter that could significantly change the way county government works.Voters will choose three members from each of three districts, with another two members chosen at large. Everyone in the county can vote for 11 commission members.The candidates all answered the same three questions. Over the next few days, the Vail Daily will print their responses.What’s the deal with these districts? In the home rule commission candidate profiles running this week, readers may have noticed that most are running to represent a district. Those three districts are split about this way:District 1: Vail, parts of Avon, Minturn, Red Cliff, parts of Eagle-Vail and Singletree.District 2: Edwards, parts of Avon, and south Eagle.District 3: North Eagle, Gypsum, Bond, Burns, McCoy, El Jebel and Basalt.Candidates have to live in their districts, but everyone in the county can vote for people from all districts. Kara HeideAt large districtPHOTO: NWS Heide, Kara PU 10-12.jpg1) Who are you?I have been a full time resident in Eagle County since 1977. In 1984 I created the first disabled skiing program in Eagle County, which has grown to be nationally recognized and now serves adaptive needs for guests from all over the world. It was a great honor to be awarded the Horn Blower (citizen of the year) award by the Vail Valley Foundation for work supporting the needs of the adaptive community. I continue to work with our local chapter of Special Olympics, the Vail Valley Charitable Fund, and Small Champions. This work with our community’s local nonprofits has benefited me in my current scope of managing Vail Resorts’ philanthropy efforts. My interests and experiences are varied and range from ranch work and open space conservation projects, to the cultural arts, all of which reflects my appreciation of all the many amenities that are available to us in our community. 2) Why do you want this job?I care about the future and vision of our community and am enthusiastic about working with others that share my passion. I hope to live here for many more years, and I want to be part of solutions that improve the quality of our lives for generations.3) What would you like a draft charter to look like when the commission has done its work?A document that is equitable and flexible, something that will be a reflection of the values of the citizens of Eagle County. It needs to be the product of public input, incorporating the wisdom and intellect of the residents of our entire county. We need to incorporate quantifiable data to design a draft charter that mirrors the concerns and needs of our community. The issue of expanding the number of county commissioners from three to five seems to be the most pressing concern, and I think it’s important to be mindful that it is certainly not the only issue the home rule commission will examine. I am confident that throughout the public hearing process we will get the input from the citizens of Eagle County to help draft a charter we can all be proud of. Heather LemonDistrict 11) Who are you?Heather Lemon, Eagle-Vail resident of 11 years, attorney, real estate broker.2) Why do you want this job?We have an opportunity now in Eagle County to look seriously at the costs and benefits of governing ourselves. We as residents, parents and small-business owners need better representation in our county government. At the same time, it is critical to examine the full impacts of “home rule” rather than gloss and glaze over the mechanics for the sake of “we need five commissioners.” If the people of this county decide to study “home rule” as a serious option, I am well qualified and motivated to give of my time to prepare a comprehensive plan. As an attorney I understand the process and the requirements to construct a county governing document. As a real estate broker I know the land and tax issues facing landowners. As a parent with kids in our public schools I am deeply concerned about the quality of our education and the quality of county services. As a small business owner I am well aware of the challenges of doing business in this valley. 3) What would you like a draft charter to look like when the commission has done its work?We all “feel” that better, non-partisan representation across geographic districts is a good thing. Our current system is an emotionally charged, personality-driven, decision-making process that divides our county more often than uniting it. By increasing representation we remove some of the personality from county government. But as I mentioned earlier, we must carefully structure a document that streamlines government and does not create a boondoggle of bureaucracy and higher costs for the sake of adding a few commissioners. We have the opportunity to create a working document that prepares the county for our future. The issue is complex and all impacts must be considered.Don LemonDistrict 11. Who are you?Don Lemon, Eagle-Vail resident of 11 years, attorney, small cleaning services business owner, Eagle County Planning Commission member.2) Why do you want this job?The current system needs a serious review. Whether it is 2-1 on one side or the other, we have allowed our county to be driven more by the personal agendas of individuals rather than representatives for the needs of the county. We have a great chance to see what it would look like under a different system. I am well qualified to be part of that commission and I am committed to do a thorough and comprehensive job. I am educated in law and finance, and have looked at policy issues from both a macro and micro level. As a recent member of the Eagle County Planning Commission I have been directly involved in the review of our comprehensive plan and am well versed on county issues. I believe my depth of 30 years of real, practical working and business owning experience will add a broad perspective. We need a county that functions. The challenges facing us as we look to the future demand that we look at what is best for us in the county. 3) What would you like a draft charter to look like when the commission has done its work?We have an opportunity to break the mold. A self-governing charter gives us the chance to determine the needs of the county and the mechanisms to make the county work well. More representation distributed by smaller geographic districts at the county board level is an important component of that document, but we must also consider the decision making processes to make that system efficient. County issues are primarily non-partisan, and election of our county representatives should be given to the local, full-time residents at a time when our voting citizens are not distracted or energized by polarizing national or state politics. County services need to be provided in an efficient, non-partisan way – whether that means certain departments should be run by professionals and not elected officials is a serious question for our consideration. We have a great county, a great place to live and work, and we need a document that will address those needs giving us a future to which we can all look forward.