Local, national issues on voters’ minds | VailDaily.com

Local, national issues on voters’ minds

Scott Miller
Kira Horvath/Vail DailyOn a walk through Eagle Tuesday morning, Eagle County commissioner candidate Roger Brown stopped at the Eagle County Building to gather support from voters.

EAGLE COUNTY ” Todd Williams had a chance to vote for a new representative Tuesday. He took the job seriously.

Williams lives in Edwards and voted at the Singletree community center. It was important to him to pick a new county commissioner, since that’s the primary government for the area.

Williams said he has one major expectation for a new commissioner.

“I want whoever’s in there to work on smart growth,” he said. “I’m not necessarily for stopping it, but being smart about it. It seems like they’ve gone to one extreme or another lately.”

In Gypsum, Onni Belisle said she’s ready for a change on the board.

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“It can only get better than what’s there now,” Belisle said. “In this case, change is good.”

Belisle and her husband, Randy, said they came out Tuesday for a number of reasons. Onni wanted to make sure she cast a vote for governor. Randy said he was eager to vote on a couple of state ballot issues.

“I wanted to make sure marriage stays marriage,” he said, referring to Amendment 38, which would put a definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman into the state constitution. But, he added, he voted for Referendum I, which would create “civil unions” for same-sex couples.

“That’s fair,” Randy Belisle said.

Other voters had big issues on their minds, too.

Sandra Kelly came to vote at Singletree with the national scene on her priority list.

“I’m coming today to vote Republican,” she said. “I believe in what they’re doing on national security and with tax cuts.”

On the local scene, Kelly had a simple wish for whoever the new commissioner might be. “I just want them to be more careful with what they do with the land around here.”

While a couple of voters in Singletree said they wanted to cast votes for mostly Republicans, a couple of Gypsum voters had other ideas. Doug Fasi said he mostly voted for Democrats, with a few Republican votes thrown in.

“It was kind of an eclectic ballot,” he said.

“I was really concerned about the big picture,” added Patrick Johnson, “and I hate to say it, but I voted Democratic on most everything.

“I voted against most of the tax increases, because I think they’re taking enough money out of our pocket,” he said.

Warren Jacobson also voted against most of the ballot issues.

“I just don’t think any of them are of any help to me,” Jacobson said. “My children are all grown now. If I had children at home I might have voted differently.”

Phil Gallagher of Gypsum said he voted “some up and some down” on the county’s ballot issues.

“Being a homeowner, voting yes on all three would have been another $300 a year in taxes,” Pat Gayler said. “You want everything, but you can’t vote for everything.”

In Eagle, though, there was more support for the tax questions. Jean McQueeney, one of the early backers of the proposed “child services” tax, was campaigning at the Eagle County Administration Building.

“People seem very supportive. We haven’t really had to answer questions for anyone yet today,” McQueeney said.

“I really want to support more money for the local schools,” Sherryl Essex said. “That’s why I’m out today.”

Voting in Eagle and Gypsum got off to a quick start Tuesday.

When the polls opened at 7 a.m., in Eagle, “The line stretched all the way down the stairs and almost out the building,” election judge Stephen Richards said.

The steady flow in Eagle kept up all day. Voters were using both electronic machines and paper ballots, and during one mid-morning and one mid-afternoon visit, all the voting booths were occupied. Around 3 p.m., nearly 600 people had voted in Eagle and 416 in Gypsum. Around 2 p.m., only about 250 people had voted at Singletree.

In Gypsum, it took people about 20 minutes to get in and out of the polling station. Paper ballots were available at all the polling places in case the lines got too long.

Voters had mixed reactions about the new machines.

“You better have patience and a Ph.D. to run those machines,” Jacobson said.

“I needed some help with them, but I got through it,” 84-year-old Thelma Bair said.

Bair, who’s lived in Eagle County her entire life, said this system is a big change from the first elections she voted in.

“At 7 a.m. they’d come out and ring a bell and say, ‘Hear ye, hear ye, the polls are now open,'” Bair said. “Then at 7 p.m., they’d ring the bell and say ‘hear ye, hear ye, the polls are now closed.'”

While plenty of paper ballots were cast, the Eagle County Clerk and Recorder’s Office reported few problems with the electronic machines, and a steady stream of absentee ballots flowed into the office.

Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930, or smiller@vaildaily.com.

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