Mike Lederhause will run for commissioner | VailDaily.com

Mike Lederhause will run for commissioner

Scott N. Miller
Scott Miller/Vail DailiDemocratic county commissioner candidate Mike Lederhause came to northern Eagle County in 1959. Except for a few years when he was in the ColoradoState Patrol, he's been there ever since.

EAGLE COUNTY ” Mike Lederhause has been thinking for years about running for county commissioner. Now, it’s time.

Lederhause, who’s lived in Eagle County since 1959, yesterday announced he’s running for the commissioner’s job now held by Tom Stone of Gypsum.

Like Gypsum Republican Tom Edwards, Lederhause chose to bypass the county assembly process and will try to petition his way onto the August primary ballot. Over the next few weeks, he’ll need to get the signatures of 73 county voters who are registered Democrats.

“I was going to announce in February,” Lederhause said. “But I didn’t want to deal with all that party stuff.”

In particular, Lederhause said he disagrees with the local Democrats’ party platform.

“I read all that and said, ‘I can’t go along with that.’ This way I’m indebted to nobody.”

This isn’t the first time Lederhause has thought about running for county commissioner. He considered it in the 1990s, but wouldn’t put himself into a primary race with a close friend, Burns rancher Bud Gates, who left office in early 1999.

Then life got busy on his nearly 75 acres along the Colorado River Road. The work to do there left him no time.

“This time it’s time, before I do get old,” he said.

“I’ve seen where things have gone over the years, and I want to guide the county in a better direction,” he said.

That direction, he said, is slower growth.

“There are traffic jams in Eagle,” he said. “Growth needs to be sustainable.”

To slow things down, Lederhause favors establishing a fee system based on home size. Smaller homes for working families wouldn’t pay the fee, but large homes would. The money would then go into a fund to help preserve open space.

The county now has a property tax that raises about $3 million per year for open space. But, Lederhause said, that money is only used to either buy or permanently preserve open space.

Lederhause thinks the county should find a way to persuade local ranchers to keep their places in production, if not permanently, then at least for a few decades at a time. The way to do that, he said, is with property tax rebates.

“A rancher here is paying taxes at Eagle County rates,” he said. “But his bale of hay isn’t worth any more than one raised on the prairie.”

Part of guiding the county means finding ways to keep working families living in it, he said. Lederhause said he knows several county employees who don’t live in the county.

“We need to help them live here if they want,” he said.

Lederhause’s wife, Edith, has worked with local senior citizens for several years. Through her experience, Lederhause said he sees a need for some sort of assisted living facility for the county’s older people. Or at least some sort of home visitor program to help people live in their homes as long as they can.

To deal with the traffic already in the valley, and that to come from projects like the Costco store in Gypsum, Lederhause said he’d like to see the state build a planned interchange from Interstate 70 to the Eagle County Airport.

A lot of planning work has been done for the interchange, but construction has been delayed indefinitely due to lack of money. State officials have said local governments will have to put in much, if not most, of the money for the interchange if it’s going to get built in the foreseeable future.

“I don’t know that we’ve got a lot of money to put into that,” he said. “But if we’ve got $6 million for a gravel pit, we could probably find some money somewhere.”

Lederhause acknowledged he has a lot to learn about the intricacies of county government.

“I’ll have to go to more meetings,” he said. “I’ve already been reading the minutes on the Web site.

“There’s a lot of work to do,” he added. “It’s a difficult job.”

Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14624, or smiller@vaildaily.com.

Vail Daily, Vail Colorado

Support Local Journalism