The state Capitol is where partisanship begins to quicken into concrete. Unlike the towns, cities and counties, here it matters which party holds the majority, and bosses deign to tell their members in the state House and Senate how to vote.It doesn’t quite hold as it does in Washington, D.C. Western Slope representatives will band across party lines to fend off Front Range interests, for instance.But party leaders do hold a certain amount of sway over rank-and-file representatives and senators. Lobbyists work the corridors. And here stars are made who someday will fill congressional, U.S. Senate and statewide offices – such as governor and attorney general.The party with the majority controls the committees and the agenda in each body, so ideology matters, too, in ways that it really doesn’t – and shouldn’t – at the local level.Currently the Republicans hold a one-seat advantage in the state Senate and a 37-28 majority in the House. So the races for these seats that represent Eagle County are hotly contested and especially so in the case of the state Senate. Here the mischief of the “527” groups running attack ads and the lending hand of party heavyweights take firm root in the campaigns for office.The party does make a difference here, although it’s also clear that what’s really needed are politicians who can work with opposing camps to help break down the rather extreme political divisiveness that has gripped the whole nation.Happily for Eagle County, each of our candidates for state House District 56 and Senate District 8 passes this essential test.Republican Heather Lemon and Democrat Gary Lindstrom, appointed representative after the last legislative session, are running for the House seat. Democrat Jay Fetcher and incumbent Republican Jack Taylor seek the Senate seat.Their solutions for the state’s top challenges tend to fall in line with their respective party’s approach, and they seem to be pretty much on the same page in defending Western Slope interests with respect to regional issues such as water.State HousePerhaps most telling about the approaches Lemon and Lindstrom would take in office can be found in their ideas about promoting tourism and dealing with health care.Lindstrom would seek to impose a tourist tax on services that tourists would be most likely to use, such as rental cars. Lemon is more interested in incentives for production companies to make movies and television shows in Colorado and incorporate images, employment and the state’s identity in their works, much like Hawaii has done with success. Lindstrom offers the heartfelt notion that everyone must have access to quality health care no matter their ability to pay, but shows no viable way to pay for it and denies that this would equate to a “universal” health care system to achieve. Lemon talks of health savings accounts being built up with some government help to put more decisions about health care into the hands of individuals. Money is a problem here, too, since the poor need a way to at least get started. Of course, the fact is that health care and its attendant costs is primarily a national problem, and a knotty one at that.Editorially, the Vail Daily tends toward the Republican philosophies in governance and so tilts decisively to Heather Lemon as our choice for the state House seat. Lemon, in part because she lives in the Vail Valley, also has the best understanding of Eagle County’s interests and needs, shows a solid command of the state issues, and demonstrates a creative spark that we think just may be the difference in our state legislators finding genuine solutions to the state’s major challenges. State SenateThe choice between Fetcher and Taylor is much more difficult. Put them together and we might have the greatest legislator ever. But of course, that’s impossible.So which will better serve northwestern Colorado’s needs best, the senior state legislator of the Western Slope who is remarkable as a nuts-and-bolts lawmaker, or the fresh vitality and vision offered by the challenger?Fetcher founded the major land trust for ranchers in the state and was a big part of Steamboat dedicating part of its sales tax to the school system, which has stood up for a dozen years now against a variety of challenges. Clearly he is capable of innovation and that out-of-the-box creativity that could serve the Western Slope and Colorado well.He’s worked hard in Eagle County during this campaign, and frankly has been a bit more of a presence in this community than incumbent Jack Taylor. That’s important, too.Still, it’s hard to knock Taylor, a veteran state lawmaker who has served Eagle County and the Western Slope well these past dozen years. And much in the same way now-former state Rep. Carl Miller maintained an at-times irksome independence from his Democratic Party leadership, Taylor has been known to break company with his Republican leadership on bills from the other side of the aisle that make more sense to him on behalf of his constituents.With seniority, Taylor also has more pull down at the Capitol and knows his way through and around the labyrinth of state legislative politics.Watching these two, we’ve come to a tie. Each would do an exemplary job in the state Senate these next four years.But as the adage goes that tie goes to the baserunner in baseball, we have to go with tie goes to the incumbent, who has served well. Our ideological tilt goes to the Republican, as well, and this race may well be the key between the GOP or the Democrats taking the majority in the state Senate. And we believe that overall, the Republicans have the better answers. Vail, colorado
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Are we seeing more bears because there are more bears on the valley floor, or because we’re all spending more time at home? It could be a bit of both.