Home rule with party lines intact?
EAGLE – The Home Rule Charter Commission decided Monday to move toward holding another election on home rule, even as one former county commissioner called their meeting “a sham.””I think we should give it another shot,” said Heather Lemon, a home rule commission member.Commission members cited a recent survey whose results seemed to indicate that voters like some aspects of the home rule proposal.The commission is going to meet in the next few weeks to decide how the home rule proposal should change if it’s presented to voters again.Home rule was defeated by voters in November, but state law allows a second chance for home rule. That would have to happen this spring in a special election that would cost as much as $30,000.Home rule would have increased the number of county commissioners from three to five. Supporters say that would improve representation and provide a commissioner for the isolated corner of Eagle County in the Roaring Fork Valley. It would have also removed party affiliation from the ballot in county races, allowed a referendum and initiative process and introduced a code of ethics.’What do we have to lose?’On Monday, in a small conference room adjacent to the commissioners’ chambers, the charter commission – elected in 2005 – decided to pursue a second chance for home rule.The vote was 7-1, with Dave Mott opposed.Tom Edwards said he would only consider a second shot for home rule if the proposal is revised in some way. One popular idea was to keep political affiliations on the county ballot. The original proposal would have removed the affiliations.In the survey, voters said they want candidates to have party affiliations on the ballot.Michael Bair, who represents part of the Roaring Fork Valley, said he didn’t see any downside in moving forward.”I would really like to see us take another shot,” he said. “What do we have to lose?”Another idea was to strip away all of the facets of home rule except for the referendum and initiative process. That would allow voters to come back and add, for instance, more county commissioners or a code of ethics piecemeal via an initiative process.’Zero input’After the meeting in the conference room, the charter commission reconvened in the county commissioners’ chambers for public input.Home rule opponent and former County Commissioner Tom Stone, who arrived for the second part of the meeting, said that was not right.”This meeting is a sham,” he said. “They just made the decision to move forward with zero input. You’re not interested in public input.”Commissioners said they had gathered sufficient public input at previous public meetings. They also said they had advertised the “pre-meeting” as the law requires.Stone said the survey’s questions were designed to achieve certain results. And he pointed to survey results that said 62 percent of voters said they had enough information to understand the issue.”This was an informed vote, plain and simple,” he said.The Home Rule Charter Commissioner members from the Eagle Valley are bad representatives of the people, Stone said.Other meeting attendees also opposed a second chance for home rule.If voters are second-guessed on this vote, they are being second-guessed on all of their votes, from electing Sara Fisher as commissioner to approving school bonds, said Mike Lederhause, a county resident.”If they understood one, they understood another, so I don’t think this should move forward,” Lederhause said.Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.