Parties to pick candidates Tuesday |

Parties to pick candidates Tuesday

Scott Miller/Daily file photoCounty voters will get their first experience with new electronic voting machines Tuesday. Ballots cast on the new machines will be kept in the devices until the polls close, and then driven to the Eagle County Clerk and Recorder's Office in Eagle for counting. The new machines, purchased to comply with new federal law, cost about $300,000. The federal government picked up about half that cost.

EAGLE COUNTY ” It’s time to thin the herd.

Partisan voters in the county Tuesday will put the final touches on the November general election ballot.

There are no primary races for any state offices this year, but there are county races to be finalized by local Democrats and Republicans.

The highest profile races are for county commissioner. Five people ” three Republicans and two Democrats ” are running to replace Gypsum Republican Tom Stone, who’s leaving office at the end of this year because of the state’s term limits law.

The Republicans are Michael Bair, Hugo Benson and Tom Edwards. The Democrats are Sara Fisher and Mike Lederhause.

Here’s one more look at the candidates who are running for commissioner:

Michael Bair

Age: 47

Residence: Basalt

Occupation: Goldsmith

Public service: Roaring Fork School Board, president; member of Eagle County Open Space Advisory Committee and Eagle County Home Rule Advisory Committee.

Bair has leaned heavily on his family roots. His grandfather was the last person from the Roaring Fork Valley to be elected county commissioner, and his family has been in the county more than 100 years.

Bair is skeptical about the need for a dedicated property tax that would provide government money for child-care programs. However, he has said he’s dedicated to keeping a vibrant middle class in the county. To do that, he said, the county will need to work on both affordable housing and transportation.

Hugo Benson

Age: 74

Residence: Gypsum

Occupation: Print shop owner

Public service: Member of Gypsum Planning Commission

Benson is a self-avowed conservative, and has promised to champion private property rights and provide a balance to current “liberal” commissioners Arn Menconi and Peter Runyon.

He’s the only of the six candidates to oppose the proposed county home rule charter voters will decide on this fall. That opposition is based on the proposal to make county elections non-partisan.

Benson is opposed to the child care tax, but in favor of building an assisted living facility for senior citizens as soon as possible.

Tom Edwards

Age: 63

Residence: Gypsum

Occupation: Retired architect

Public Service: Member ” Gypsum Town Council, Eagle County Open Space Advisory Committee, Eagle County Home Rule Charter Commission, Eagle River Preserve Steering Committee, Eagle Valley Land Trust

Edwards is touting his experience in local government and membership on numerous town and county boards and committees. He’s skeptical about the need for a child care tax.

Real cooperation between the county and its towns is crucial for future planning and trying to preserve as much as possible of a growing county, Edwards said.

Sara Fisher

Age: 50

Residence: Gypsum

Occupation: Consultant

Political experience: Former Eagle County Clerk and Recorder, 1993 ” 2003

Like Edwards, Fisher is touting her experience. Her experience as county clerk, and the countless commissioners’ meetings she’s attended make her uniquely qualified for the commissioners’ job, she has said.

Fisher supports the idea of a property tax to provide government money for daycare and preschool programs.

Fisher is a firm believer in long-term planning that involves the county, the state and local towns. That planning will be crucial if Eagle County grows as expected, to an estimated population of 80,000 residents and a workforce of 100,000 by 2025.

Mike Lederhause

Age: 64

Residence: Colorado River Road

Occupation: Retired Colorado State Patrol officer

Public service: Past president, Eagle County Aviation Association; past president Bond/McCoy Fire Department

Lederhause has lived in Eagle County since 1959. He has made controlling growth a centerpiece of his campaign, but he’s also skeptical about the county’s “green” building regulations. He’s also skeptical about the need for a child care tax, and is a strong supporter of an assisted living center for senior citizens.

If elected, Lederhause has said he wants to find a way to make sure county employees can actually live in the county.

Lederhause has said his experience in law enforcement, and in building cases based on evidence, will help him make decisions as a county commissioner.

County Republicans will also decide who will be their party’s fall candidate for Eagle County Assessor. Incumbent Joyce Mack ” who unseated then-incumbent Jody Caruthers in a primary four years ago ” is facing a primary challenge of her own from Ed Smith, a longtime employee in the Assessor’s Office.

Joyce Mack

Age: 57

Public service: Eagle County Assessor, first term

Mack, the incumbent, has she’s proud of the fact that the number of appeals of property valuations has dropped by nearly half during her first term. She’s also proud of her membership in the International Association of Assessing Officers, The Colorado Assessors’ Association and the Colorado Association for Taxing


“I represent the citizens of Eagle County, not the bureaucracy,” she wrote in a reply to recently e-mailed questions.

Ed Smith

Age: 60

Public service: Employee of the Eagle County Assessor’s Office for 19 years.

Smith has challenged Mack’s lack of an appraiser’s license, saying such a license is critical to making informed decisions and answering taxpayers’ questions. (Mack has said an appraiser’s license isn’t a requirement of the job, and that she has met all the requirements and deadlines state law dictates.)

Smith claims his experience in the assessor’s office, and his knowledge of the laws and regulations that apply to the job, makes him the better choice for the job.

In his response to recently e-mailed questions, Smith wrote, “I can lead an Assessor’s Office that serves citizens in the manner the Eagle County voters want.”

Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930 or

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