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Home rule is a good idea

Ballots are in the mail! By now, many of you have received your ballot for the November election. I’m writing to ask you to vote “Yes” on Eagle County’s Referendum 1A.

1A is the home rule charter commission question. There are two parts to the question: first a “yes” or “no” on electing a commission, and second, selection of 11 members to serve on that commission.

The actual decision on home rule will be made after the Home Rule Charter Commission researches the options and presents a charter to the County Commissioners, then to the registered voters, to accept or reject.

I believe a “yes” vote is in order for the following reasons:

1. The best government is that which is responsive to the unique characteristics of its communities. A well-designed home rule charter would allow us to create a structure of government that works best for the citizens of Eagle County.

2. A group of elected volunteers will research options and return a charter to the public for review, within 240 days. It’s a short-term, intensive effort, and the people of the County can accept or reject the charter at a special election which will be held for that purpose.

One possible outcome of a Home Rule Charter could be the expansion of the current Board of County Commissioners from three members to five, with better geographic representation throughout the County. The Charter could also allow those commissioners to be elected on a non-partisan basis, as is the case with Town Council members.

Voting “yes” on Referendum 1A allows us to look at creating a more efficient and effective County government. I believe this is a positive step for the future of our County, and have put my name in the hat as a candidate for the Home Rule Charter Commission. Please give me a call or e-mail if you’d like to discuss the referendum or my qualifications.

Don’t forget to mail those ballots!

Thank you,

Kathy Chandler-Henry

Eagle resident and home rule charter commission candidate

rigued by some of the possibilities offered by “home rule” for Eagle County. The most significant one is having five commissioners rather than three, chosen by the voters in five districts on a non-partisan basis. Here are some of the opportunities I see.

Five commissioners: Recent history has shown that under the three-commissioner system, two of them often turn out to be ideological opposites, voting against each other on just about everything. This leaves the third commissioner to make most of the decisions single-handedly. Concentration of power in the hands of one person is not healthy government and can even be dangerous. With five commissioners this is less likely to happen. Furthermore, a commission of five decision makers will facilitate broader perspective on the issues.

Elect commissioners by district: Our present county government requires the commissioners to live in three separate districts, but they are elected at large by all the voters. The theory behind this is that the commissioners will act in the best interests of the county as a whole, since they are elected by all the people. This makes it very difficult for our brethren in Basalt/ El Jebel to be represented even though this appendage of Eagle County contains about 20 percent of our population. Five districts, each electing their own commissioner, offers better representation.

Nonpartisan elections: Ideological partisanship at the national level has continued to be a mind-numbing and divisive condition that results in decisions which are not in the best interest of the nation as a whole. In my opinion, partisanship has no place in local government. None of the town council candidates run as Republicans or Democrats and neither should county officials. Candidates should just be good, capable people who will consider input, be fair and objective, and make decisions consistent with the vision for Eagle County’s future.

Eliminate Some Elected Positions: Perhaps it would be more appropriate to hire professionals for positions that require substantial experience, technical and/or management qualifications for a county this large. This issue should be considered carefully by the home-rule committee.

It is important to note that a ‘yes’ vote on Referendum Question 1A on your mail-in ballot DOES NOT mean that home rule will be applied to Eagle County. It only allows an elected committee of eleven citizens (three from each commissioner district and two at large) to take a good hard look at the concept and write a ‘home-rule charter’ tailored to our needs. Once this is completed and publicized, the voters will then decide if they agree or disagree with the specifics of ‘home rule’ in a subsequent election.

Eagle County has become much more complex since I served as a commissioner in the early ’80’s. Population has grown from 15,000 to 50,000, and budgets from $15 million to $100 million annually. It may be time to modernize our government, to keep up with changing conditions and gain better representation.

Dave Mott

Wolcott resident and a candidate for the home rule charter committee

If you were on the receiving end of the Home-Rule-Is-Out-To-Get-You AutoDialer call in the past couple of days, don’t be scared. This is very possibly a prankster trying to stir up fear just as Halloween approaches. I’m here to let you know that evil does NOT lurk in the hearts of the people that want to examine the Home Rule issue. Just a desire to look at the possibility of improving the way county government works.

This vote is to elect a commission of your friends and neighbors to draft a charter that will be brought back to you in about a year for a decision. You are NOT making a decision about a Home Rule Charter now, as Auto Dialer suggested.

Other misleading Auto Dialer scare tactics:

1) Home Rule would allow two commissioners to “meet in secret.” “In secret” is a strange way to say that two elected officials can have a conversation like other elected officials do including members of Congress, State legislators and town councils. They can all meet to exchange ideas, but not our county commissions.

2) The AutoDialer claims that it could cost $200,000 to draft a Home Rule Charter and submit it to the voters. That estimate may be high, but if it’s true, that amount is only two-tenths of one percent of the annual budget. And the people running for these positions will not receive a dime of that money. It will be spent on professional advisors to help the commission get this job done the way you would want it done.

Does it make you wonder why someone would go to so much trouble to scare you away from even looking at the possibilities of Home Rule? Maybe Auto Dialer should save the hobgoblins for Halloween”and come out where we can see him.

Finally, because so many voters don’t know the candidates, let me throw out my list of favorites to consider: District 1-Colleen McCarthy. District 2-Kathy Chandler-Henry, Ron Wolfe, Don Cohen, or Charlie Wick District 3-Robert Schultz, Jacque Whitsitt. At Large-Dave Mott, Rohn Robbins.

Please vote yes on 1A. The Boogey Man won’t get you.

Jacque Whitsitt

Basalt resident and candidate for home rule charter commission


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