Primaries will narrow candidates for fall |

Primaries will narrow candidates for fall

EAGLE COUNTY ” The herd gets thinned out next week.

On Aug. 8, the county’s political party faithful will head to the polls for primary voting that will select candidates for the November elections. Those partisan voters will cull the candidate fields for both county commissioner and county assessor.

s prompted you to change your position on any issues?

Here’s a look at who’s running, and their answers to a pair of pre-primary questions:

– What, if anything, has surprised you while campaigning this summer?

– Has talking to voter

Six people are running to replace Commissioner Tom Stone, who can’t run for another term because of the state’s term limits law.

Three Republicans, two Democrats and one independent candidate are running now. Five of those candidates face their first electoral test next week. The independent, Roger Brown of Gypsum, sits out this round.

Here’s who voters will select from.

Michael Bair

– Residence: Basalt

– Age: 47

– Married for 24 years to Lyn Bair

– Three kids, two in college, one in middle school

– Occupation: Goldsmith

– Public service: Member of the Eagle County Open Space Advisory Committee and the Eagle County Home Rule Charter Commission, and president of the Roaring Fork School Board

1) I have been surprised a little by the amount of time it has taken to campaign. It has been much more than I anticipated. Despite the time, my family and I have enjoyed meeting and talking with people throughout the county.

2) I would say my knowledge has increased through this process. I appreciate how honest people are about their concerns.

My positions have not radically changed. I still believe, for example, in building strong communities and in protecting individual liberty such as property rights. Talking with voters has deepened my understanding of the ways in which these interests may conflict but also about how they might work together.

I hope we can all work together to welcome the next generation of county residents.

Hugo Benson

– Residence: Gypsum

– Age: 74

– Married to Jackie

– Occupation: Print shop owner

– Government experience: Member of the Gypsum Planning and Zoning Commission

1) I have learned a great deal about how the system works, such as the caucus and the assembly at every level. I also understand now why so many people would like to have five commissioners for better representation.

Now that I am more involved I understand why it is important for every citizen in this county to participate in local politics and would encourage everyone to vote. Everyone that I talk to has ideas for dealing with our issues that I would not have thought of on my own. I am really enjoying listening to people and as a commissioner I hope people will keep giving me ideas.

2) Originally God placed being a county commissioner on my heart because of my close association with many of Eagle County’s founding seniors and their needs.

As I met and spoke with people throughout the county, I became so concerned to have a conservative voice on the board that it has become a passion more than a decision.

Liberal thinking attempts to guarantee outcomes for all of us by using rules, regulations. The idea is that this is the way to create a better quality of life.

Conservative thinking attempts to provide an opportunity for a better quality of life by encouraging personal responsibility, respect for one another’s ideas, incentives and plain old common sense. We have two liberal-thinking commissioners now and we need balance.

Tom Edwards

Age: 63

Residence: Gypsum

Married to: Margaret, for 40 years

Occupation: Architect, retired

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

1) I can’t say I’ve been surprised while campaigning as much as I’ve been impressed. The following have impressed me the most:

– The willingness of friends, acquaintances and even those I have just met to say “What can I do to help with your campaign?”

– The interest expressed by people who stop what they are doing and spend some of their time to discuss the issues.

– The overwhelming desire of people to have a “user friendly” government that uses a cooperative and collaborative approach to solve the county’s problems.

I have always been impressed with the ability of the people of Eagle County to work together privately with tremendous success. Now it is time to bring that same spirit of cooperation and collaboration to county government.

2) Talking “with” rather than “to” voters has helped to refine my ideas and clarify my thinking. The majority of the comments I have received from the voters are supportive of my position. That causes me to wonder if only the people who agree with me comment on the issues.

Because of the support I have received to date, I have refined rather than changed some of my positions.

The best part of talking “with” voters is getting to hear what is really important to those who have an interest and concern for Eagle County. At times discussion necessitates additional research in order to have the knowledge to adequately answer questions. I find this to be an interesting and challenging part of running for county commissioner.

Sara Fisher

Residence: Gypsum

Age: 49

Married to: Bill Fisher

Occupation: Consultant

Political experience: Eagle County Clerk and Recorder, 1993 ” 2003, appointed once, elected twice.

1) Rather than being surprised I am actually quite flattered by the many positive comments I’ve received about my running for commissioner. Some folks have suggested that I’m crazy to want to put myself out there for others to criticize, but then again, they applaud my passion and my desire to bring strong leadership and a proven track record to the job.

People around the county remember the positive changes that we made in the Clerk and Recorder’s Office during the 10 years I was at the helm. They know how hard I work and how capable I am at making sound decisions that benefit both those who live here as well as those who come to visit.

Eagle County is a great place and I hope to make it even better.

2) Listening to voters has reinforced my belief that this election will define the future of Eagle County for decades to come. Workforce housing, transportation solutions and our social infrastructure are all issues that must be tackled with urgency and a long-term vision.

What I’ve been hearing from voters, second-home owners, residents and guests is a growing concern that we need to recognize the consequences of urbanization without sustainability.

I’ve also heard, loud and clear, that voters want to see better working relationships between the commissioners. They’re not saying that they expect unanimous agreement all the time, but that they want leadership that is respectful of different viewpoints and willing to draw the line on issues without drawing a line in the sand.

Mike Lederhause

Age: 64

Married to: Edith, for 45 years

Kids: Two grown daughters, three grandkids

Career: Colorado State Patrol (retired)

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

1) Campaigning has been a very positive experience. Five of the six candidates have attended many functions together and it has been interesting getting to know these fellows better.

It is surprising to realize how we generally support the same ideals and are in this campaign because of a genuine interest in serving the citizens of the county, and not just looking for a job. We may have slightly different ideas on what issues are most important but I believe any of us five would serve the county well.

The number of people from throughout the county that have expressed support for my campaign, whether they were registered as Democrats, Republicans or unaffiliated, is overwhelming. I will have to work hard to not let these folks down.

2) I do not want to come into the job of commissioner with a personal agenda even though I do have concerns about things that have, and are, happening in the county. I want to represent the concerns of the citizens of the county.

The issues that citizens are concerned about are:

Growth and what to do about it, including the size and location of the proposed RV Park near Dotsero. Property rights. Concern about the green building regulations. Bike trails and other recreation amenities. Senior facilities such as assisted-living and nursing care. The strong concern over a proposed tax increase for child care ” I have found only one person supporting this tax increase out of the 20 or so that I have talked to about the subject.

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

Vail Daily, Vail Colorado

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