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Miller by a nose in House race

Don Rogers

Our new state House district comes with a hard-working, non-partisan and fully competent incumbent representative in Carl Miller, D-Leadville, who already has worked on Eagle County’s behalf, most notably helping keep a secret sweetheart deal for valuable state school land out of a devloper’s hands.

For a challenger, we have energetic, very bright Heather Lemon, R-Eagle-Vail, who shows all the promise of another fine freshman legislator we elected two years ago, Al White. White no longer represents Eagle County directly.

Lemon, a real estate professional and attorney who deals often with immigration issues, has personal experience with health care issues from a car accident a couple of years back that severely injured her children. The outpouring from the community helped motivate her to seek office as a way to give back.

She’s a quick study, relentless in her efforts to understand, well-spoken and shows a marketing savvy that would serve her and Eagle County well in the state Legislature. She lives the Eagle County lifestyle – including skiing and biking – certainly has a good handle on the resort community’s lifestyle and needs. Her energy also is a big selling point for voters looking for a tireless advocate of their interests.

Carl Miller is no slouch himself. The miner from Leadville has served six years in the state House, a dozen years as a county commissioner and has helped lead innumerable local, regional and statewide bodies. He’s the engine that got Leadville’s mining museum built, and he’s a veteran of the Western Slope-Front Range contests in and out of the Legislature.

He’s not flashy, and not much of a partisan politician. He’s fought famously at times with his own party in the greater interest of his constituents. He recognizes the real divide in the Legislature is much the same as the Great Divide separating the state’s watersheds between Atlantic-bound streams and those headed to the Pacific, if left to themselves.

The choice here is not who is better than the other in an absolute sense, but really who will represent the district’s best interests over this next critical legislative term, when water bills – you can bet favoring the dominant Front Range thirst for Western Slope water, spurred on by this drought – and hard, hard budget decisions.

We don’t doubt Lemon’s ability to handle this. But Miller is in the best position, through his contacts and seats on key committees and ability to work effectively now. He serves on the agriculture committee, through which water bills pass, and the Business Affairs and Labor, which helps shape health insurance legislation.

He also serves as one of four Colorado representatives on the executive committe of the national Energy Council, which is helping shape national energy policy.

The best outcome from our vantage would be for Lemon to stay involved in political issues and increase her knowledge and base for a run at the job two years from now.

We believe Miller will have less of a challenge getting to know Eagle County’s leaders and issues than Lemon will in navigating the Legislature, bright and dynamic as she is.

For the challenges the state faces this year, experience wins out in our recommendation by a nose over the newcomer’s obvious potential and energy.

Therefore, our recommendation goes to Carl Miller. Can’t say we’d be disappointed if Heather Lemon wins the seat, though. And that’s a good place for the voters of this House district to be.


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