Read the charter yourself |

Read the charter yourself

Tom Edwards
Vail CO, Colorado

Do you know who Mike Reid and Muhammad Ali Hasan are? How many people did it take to elect Mike Reid to the Citizens for Responsible Government? And how about Mr. Hasan? He says he’s a real estate developer and “proud resident of Eagle County.”

However, he’s not a registered voter in Eagle County (I checked).

Anyone can sit back and take pot shots at the charter. But, speaking as one of the authors of the document, I know that any of these critics would have a better perspective if they’d actually worked through the process and truly came to understand the intent and content.

Do you know who Michael Bair, Don Cohen, Tom Edwards, Kara Heide, Kathy Chandler-Henry, John Horan-Kates, Colleen McCarthy, Heather Lemon, Dave Mott, Jacque Whitsitt and Charlie Wick are? These are the 11 people elected by the citizens of Eagle County to create the best possible charter for Eagle County.

All are longtime residents of Eagle County who came together as a group with different backgrounds and political perspectives with nothing more than a strong desire to make Eagle County an even better place to live.

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The charter commission gains nothing from the passage of the home rule charter.

They get nothing for creating it. It was researched, debated and written with the sole intent of giving the people of Eagle County an opportunity for better government through better representation and a better say in their government.

The proposed charter represents an effort that has taken more than a year to create. The commission, without compensation, put nearly 1,000 hours into its writing, assisted by one of the top municipal law legal teams in the state (selected from three firms that were interviewed).

If I have to list items to compete with the lists by the anti-charter folks then here they are:

1. The home rule charter provides better representation for everyone by providing five commissioners instead of three. Hasan’s suggestion of four is not a possibility as it would not be allowed without home rule. I cannot recall any political board in Colorado that is structured that way.

2. The Basalt/El Jebel side of the county gets better representation. A representative who actually lives there, not just visits.

3. Hasan claims five commissioners would lead to a dictatorship. Isn’t a dictatorship usually just one? Why is three less a dictatorship than five?

4. The charter has a code of ethics. (Which a poll of the citizens showed they desired.)

5. Under the home rule charter the current system of party politics will continue. This was determined to be a desire by the poll of voters taken by the commission to determine how the home rule charter might be made even better.

6. It allows for citizens’ initiatives. Items can be placed on the ballot by petitions signed by the voters. This is not available in any form now.

7. The charter allows for referendum. Items voted by the commissioners that the public does not agree with can be overturned by petitioning a measure onto the ballot and getting the majority of the votes in an election. This is democracy. This is not available in any way under current statutory laws including land-use decisions and budget items.

8. Commissioners will be voted into office “at large” by all the voters so you are not limited to voting for only one commissioner. You vote for all five commissioners.

9. Citizen’s constitutional rights will be better protected because home rule allows them to rein-in decisions they feel are inappropriate or onerous.

10. The commissioners maintain their power to run the county through their selection of the county manager. Citizens have the power to elect the commissioners. This is a hierarchy that works to create good government.

11. The charter will get us better representation today. Not in 15 years. The ploy that you will get more commissioners when the population gets to 70,000 is erroneous. You will need to vote, just like you will be doing now to get more commissioners.

Why wait for better representation?

12. No rights are taken away. You gain rights. (See surveyor below.)

13. The charter eliminates the politics from the surveyor position which is a relic from the past. Instead the county will merely appoint the best qualified surveyor that applies for the job. Are you qualified to select the best surveyor? Does party affiliation matter for the surveyor? You decide.

14. New transparency will be put in place with a state-of-county report so you will be apprised of what is going on each year.

15. Accountability improves with an attendance record of commissioners being published. It also requires that the voting record of commissioners be published.

16. Creates a framework that gives some flexibility in running one of the largest budget counties in the state. Allows Eagle County to keep up with the 21st-century demands placed on county government.

As a voter your choice is to listen to the scare tactics of the anti-home rule crowd or you can read the charter, look at the facts ( and vote. I would suggest that the charter will give you better representation, a better say in government and the ethics code that so many desire. We can make a better Eagle County in the 21st century. Vote “yes” on home rule.

Tom Edwards is a member of the Eagle County Home Rule Charter Commission.

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