Many want to know more about ‘home rule’
September 1, 2005
EDWARDS – More information would be good.That was the general feeling among a Friday-morning crowd at Starbucks in Edwards on the subject of reforming how Eagle County’s government works.”I want to know more about what it is,” Scott Bandoni said of an idea that could increase the number of county commissioners.”My knee jerk reaction is that would be a positive thing, Bandoni said. “More opinions and more debate can make better decisions,””I think adding two more people would give a wider range of opinions,” added Mike Walhoff. “And it would be harder for two people to gang up on the third.”Angela Rossi called the prospect of adding a couple of commissioners “wonderful.” “There have been a lot of changes in our community, and sometimes, more is better,” she said.
While most people wanted to know more – “I know way less than I should,” New New Wallace said – most said they’re at least interested by the idea. “It’s an intriguing concept, and it’s possibly the way to go for the county’s future,” Wallace said.Mike Barry said he likes the part of the proposal that would make the commissioners’ jobs independent of the local political parties.”I think it’s better to remove the partisan politics from it,” he said. Barry said he also likes the idea of creating more strictly defined districts. In Pitkin County, for instance, commissioners represent small parts of the county, and only voters in those areas vote for candidates for that seat on the board. Commissioners in Eagle County must live in the district they represent, but are elected by all county voters.”I think we’d have better representation for all of Eagle County, especially in Basalt,” Barry said. While there are a couple of examples of “home rule” counties in Colorado, what a new Eagle County charter might look like won’t be known for at least several months. The first step in writing a charter is electing a volunteer commission that will hold public hearings, write a charter, then send that document back to voters for approval.If the charter isn’t approved, the county government would have to continue to do business as it does now, forced to stick with state laws about how local governments operate.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, said Steve Warfield.”I think the county government runs pretty well right now,” Warfield said. “I don’t know that we really need to change.”Dave Jaffe agreed.”I don’t necessarily think we need five commissioners,” Jaffe said. “With the growth of Edwards, there needs to be more representation. But I’d probably rather it be a town.”What we’re voting onVoters in November will elect an 11-member commission that will start work on a new county charter. That charter could include an increase in the number of county commissioners. It could give the commissioners the power to appoint people to jobs that are now elected offices. Once the charter is finished, county voters will have the final say whether it becomes law or not.
================Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail Daily, Vail Colorado