Vail Daily letters to the editor |

Vail Daily letters to the editor

Vail Daily
Vail, CO, Colorado

Nelson for commissioner

Did you know there are more registered independents than Democrats and Republicans combined in Eagle County? However, Eagle County has never elected an Independent for county commissioner in its history.

Eagle County independents are free thinkers. The quality of life and the fresh air allow us to see through the tyranny and corruption that lie within the two-party system. It is time to have our voice heard and elect a true steward of the people. We have a chance now by electing Dale Nelson, the candidate for District 1 of the Eagle County Board of Commissioners.

After attending the state GOP convention, I realized that change on the national level will take time and effort. If we want to improve things in this country, we must act locally. Getting people elected to positions that decide long-term impacts to the place we call home is a very important step.

For example, the Stavney land deal is bad for us. He clams overall it’s a good deal, but given the facts, that’s far from the truth. I believe if one Eagle County community is negatively impacted over these land deals, then we all lose. Minturn and Eagle County cannot afford to re-elect guys who will run them over and put a Colorado Department of Transportation garage right on the doorstep of the town that arguably needs it the least.

When people talk politics and are unhappy with the system, they will quickly tell you that an independent vote is wasted, and they are going to vote for the lesser of two evils. This makes no sense to me.

If all the people who said that truly voted their conscience, where would we be today? As the late, great Jerry Garcia said, “The lesser of two evils is still evil.”

Career polictians must be replaced by small-business owners who have the guts to run our local governments. Gone are the days of “for the people, by the people.” It’s time to remind our elected officials that they represent the interest of the people and not their own bank accounts and pensions.

Dale Nelson is a business owner who knows what it takes to make a living in a declining industry in a down economy. With a family and the challenges of raising children, he found the time to get 500 signatures of registered Eagle County voters just to get on the ballot.

Dale is one of the most approachable guys I have ever met. He is willing to speak with anybody about any concern that they may have. This is the kind of person I want representing my interests. I hope you will join me in this effort. Please vote Dale Nelson Eagle County commissioner.

Alex Parsons

Yes to 5A

My name is Mick Woodworth and I’m a firefighter with Eagle River Fire Protection District. I support 5A, a temporary tax increase that brings the Eagle River Fire Department’s tax revenue up to the same amount that it was in 2010.

There have been many misleading comments circulating about 5A that I would like to address. As the Eagle River Fire Protection District operating budget is based on incoming tax revenue, it is natural that the annual dollar amount would fluctuate accordingly, and we are prepared for these slight fluctuations from year to year. However, since the collected property taxes have decreased by 25 percent in one year in Eagle County, our operating budgeted has also decreased by 25 percent. But I’m proud to say, the quality of our care has not.

However, what we have been forced to do since April is decrease the number of firefighters on duty each shift and institute a program of “rolling closures” of fire stations. Up to two offive stations in the district are closed at one time.

What does this mean to you? Since successful emergency care is based on a timely response, there are simply fewer responders available to help in emergencies. A burning house needs firefighters on scene within five minutes to have a shot at saving it. More importantly, we respond to all emergencies, from medical calls, to car accidents, carbon monoxide problems to bike wrecks. Clearly, we need to have all our stations response-ready at all times.

With a positive outcome on 5A, our five stations will be manned with trained professionals and three engines can respond to about 90 percent of the district within 13 minutes.

If 5A doesn’t pass, the Eagle River district can be prepared for up to a 20-minute response time for one engine. If there is another emergency happening at the same time, this will be even longer if we have to wait for an engine from another district.

5A is not permanent. This temporary increase in tax revenue will decrease as our property values recover from the recent drop, keeping the revenue amount the same as it was in 2010.

I have had the fire department respond to my own home for my child in respiratory distress and to my parents’ home, where a large fire threatened everything they own. To me, the amount of this temporary tax increase is worth the peace of mind that my brothers and sisters are ready to respond in an emergency. Please join my family and me with a “yes” vote on 5A, keeping our families, neighbors and the whole community safe.

Mick Woodworth


Yes to fire tax

I get really irritated at busy signals. We’ve been in the Digital Age for awhile now, and I’ve definitely gotten used to the idea of instant gratification. I think many of us have gotten used to getting what we want when we want it.

So when I heard about ballot measure 5A to support Eagle River Fire, it got me thinking.

Imagine calling 911 or one of Eagle River Fire’s local numbers, only to be met by a busy signal or someone telling you to take a number because your emergency isn’t next in line, or even in the top five of Eagle River Fire’s requested responses.

How might you react?

I would be irate, and that’s why I’m voting “yes” on 5A. Without this small increase on your tax bill, a long or non-response will become a reality, and two Eagle River Fire stations will close.

Now imagine doing the job of a firefighter. In addition to literally fighting fires and entering burning buildings to save people (some of whom may well not have supported your previous request for a mill levy), these firefighters save pets from culverts. They come to your child’s birthday party and give engine tours. They respond to emergency calls at the local wastewater treatment plant. They direct traffic on I-70 in the dead of night.

Would you have what it takes to do that job? Do you even want to? Or would you rather leave it in the hands of these trained professionals?

How about the necessary training, which is a never-ending quest to do things better, more efficiently and faster under a variety of circumstances, including the freezing cold, blazing heat, wintertime blizzards and summertime lightning storms?

Your life or the life of a loved one may depend on the actions of these Eagle River Firefighters. Are you sure you don’t need them at their local stations 24/7/365?

Maybe you think you won’t need their help. Do you really want to take that chance? They’re prepared to help you, because you just never know. And when they’re not responding to emergencies, they’re training to do even better the next time.

Chances are you don’t personally know many of our local Eagle River firefighters. Chances are they don’t know some of you all that well. But it’s undeniable that they would put their lives on the line for you. It’s what they train for and what they’re taught to do. It’s the vow they take as firefighters.

It’s a small price to pay to ensure our Eagle River Firefighters can continue providing the extremely specialized service that they’re trained for. It’s also a necessary one. Don’t put yourself, your family, or your community in a position to be without Eagle River Fire’s round-the-clock service. Yes on 5A.

Kathy Goulet


The many Mitts

Which Mitt Romney are you voting for?

Is it the pro-choice Massachusetts Gov. Romney or the pro-life pandering to the Republican base Romney? Is it the anti-big government spending Mitt or the I want to increase big government spending on the military Mitt? The tax-cutting Mitt or deficit-reducing Mitt?

The “I’m for 100 percent of Americans” Mitt or the “I’m not going to worry about 47 percent of Americans” Mitt? The “I’m not going to campaign during the Sandy disaster” Mitt or the Mitt that is campaigning during the Sandy disaster? The pro-women Mitt or the “binder full of women” Mitt, or the “I will shut down Planned Parenthood” Mitt or “never had a female partner while CEO at Bain Capital” Mitt, or the Mitt that doesn’t support the equal pay for women act?

One could go on for days comparing the many Mitts. If elected, which one would occupy the White House? Being on both sides of so many issues is dishonest and shows a severe lack of backbone and character.

Let’s continue to move forward with Obama. His leadership and ability to work with willing Republicans are in full view during super storm Sandy. You know which side of the issue he is on and you will know who is in the White House.

Mark Szczesny


Vote ‘yes’ for 5A

As I write this letter, I am simultaneously watching the East Coast news. As I am originally from the New Jersey shore and lived in New York City for many years, the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy is devastating. To see New York City shut down due to a natural disaster is beyond belief. This is the city that never sleeps, but it is closed.

One of the lead stories is about firefighters rescuing 25 residents from a rooftop in Queens as their neighborhood burned to the ground. Massive flooding and weather conditions limited the ability of emergency responders to fight the fire. Their sole focus became saving lives.

The East Coast had several daysto prepare, but the magnitude of the event overwhelmed all planning and preparation. The story of the storm became one of endurance and the ability of emergency responders to do their jobs.

For the most part, Mother Nature won, but once again, the firefighters of New York put their lives on the line so that they could save others. This was a brutal reminder that disasters happen.

It is improbable that the Vail Valley will ever experience a hurricane, but there is significant exposure to risk. This summer’s extreme drought elevated awareness about our most severe risk, wildfire.

Historically, Mother Nature’s solution to the dead forest that surrounds us would have been a cleansing fire. Some of Colorado experienced this. In the valley, smoke was frequently visible, but the prevailing attitude was that it won’t happen here.

It did not due to the diligence of local emergency personnel. There were numerous instances where a small roadside grass fire or a burning building could have rapidly escalated. Constant vigilance and teamwork by local firefighters and good luck came to our aid.

In the event of a wildfire, the first responders will be our local firefighters. Colorado must declare a state of emergency before significant additional resources arrive on scene. All expenses before such a declaration will be borne by the district, not the state or federal government.

Eagle River Fire is one of three districts in the valley, which along with the town of Vail’s Fire Department provide fire protection. Teamwork between the separate districts and Vail is excellent, with each providing mutual aid when an incident outstrips any one entity’s resources.

Eagle River’s board recognizes that the community at large is better served if the separate entities consolidated. Eagle River has long been a proponent of consolidation, but no one special district can force consolidation. The board hopes that it will happen eventually, but in the meantime, voting no on Ballot 5A will only ensure that our firefighting capability is significantly impaired.

Eagle River’s boundaries include Red Cliff, Minturn, Avon, Eagle-Vail, the unincorporated community of Edwards, Cordillera and Red Sky. It is the only district that protects multiple population centers with four operational stations. Overwhelmingly, the town councils and community boards have expressed their support of 5A.

The board and staff of Eagle River Fire will accept the decision of the voters. However, if 5A does not pass, 50 percent of its stations will be closed.

The board of the Eagle River Fire Protection decided to ask for the temporary mill levy increase only after a thorough review of the district’s expenses. The district has been aggressively cutting costs for several years, but further expense reduction only comes with station closures and the resulting negative impact on insurance premiums and public safety.

Public safety is best served through prevention planning and disaster preparedness. When Mother Nature decides to inflict inconceivable damage, your next protection is provided by trained boots on the ground willing to put their lives on the line to save you and your family.

Insurance does not protect you; it only partially reimburses you for your loss.

Vote “yes “for 5A.

Jennifer Cartmell Hays

Chair, Board of Directors, Eagle River Fire Protection District

For fire tax

I am a Minturn homeowner. I support Eagle River Fire Protection District’s mill levy, and I’m voting yes on 5A in this November’s election.

The Eagle River Fire Protection District’s service area covers a giant chunk of land – 186 square miles – which, by the way, does not include Vail. This is a huge area, and we’re lucky to have such capable, highly trained fire protection so nearby.

The ability to provide this protection depends upon each and every station working as a system, especially with such a large area to cover. When one station’s crew is on a call, another on-duty crew can provide backup for that station.

The current situation, in which rolling station closures are becoming more and more common, leaves our entire service area vulnerable.

We have been very, very lucky that the large-scale incidents that occurred this summer didn’t end in disaster. Crews were nearby and able to respond quickly to the Chambertin fire and the semi’s rollover, minimizing loss of property and protecting and saving lives. If the closest station had been closed in these emergencies, we’d probably be telling a very different story.

We have a very special community here, and we need to keep it that way. Fire protection is a necessity. What we’re getting with a “yes” vote on 5A is a bargain compared to all that we have to lose without ensuring that we have enough staffed fire stations.

For a $250,000 home, the Eagle River Fire Protection District is asking for $6.25 a month. Can you afford not to vote yes?

Darell Wegert


Supports 5A

I’m Jerry Bumgarner, and I’m voting “yes” on 5A. I’m a member of the Minturn Town Council. However, I’m writing this letter as a citizen and former business owner in Minturn.

I don’t view Eagle River Fire’s requested mill levy as an additional tax. I view it as insurance for keeping my local fire station open 24 hours a day for $2.50 a month per $100,000 of your home’s value. That’s about the cost of a cup of coffee!

It’s insurance that I’m going to pay for one way or another, as local agents have now concluded that property insurance rates here – mine and yours – will go up if 5A doesn’t pass and two fire stations close.

In my mind, this instantaneous insurance is for protecting properties and in some cases, saving lives. I will pay the slight increase Eagle River Fire is asking for, which will decrease as the economy improves and property values rebound. This increase is limited, reasonable, and completely necessary.

The town of Minturn has greatly benefited from having a professional fire department so nearby. It ensures our Minturn citizens continue to receive assistance from Eagle River Fire with non-fire-related activities: shoveling sidewalks, clearing snow from homes, and helping provide Minturn Senior Lunches, just to name a few.

I have personally benefited from Eagle River Fire Protection District’s speedy response.

Shortly after Minturn included into Eagle River Fire in 2001, an after-hours electrical fire occurred at my former business. Eagle River Fire arrived in less than three minutes. Firefighters entered through a side door, leaving minimal damage from their forced entry. They extinguished the fire before the entire ceiling combusted.

Thanks to their quick response and competent response, my business experienced minimal damage. I was able to reopen just a few days later. There is no doubt that Eagle River Fire saved my business that day, and likely the adjoining business, as well. If rolling stations closures then had been the norm as they are now, I would be telling you a much different story.

While I don’t understand the mechanics of fighting a fire, I know that rapid response is the key to saving properties and lives. I also know that Eagle River Fire has positively affected the lives of our Minturn residents, and I am certain that this is the case with citizens throughout Eagle River Fire’s service area.

Please join me in voting yes for 5A. Think if it as real-time insurance for the safety of your family and home. The increased property insurance rates you’ll otherwise pay are nothing but numbers on a piece of paper.

Jerry Bumgarner


For 5A

I know there are many East Coast transplants who now call our beautiful high country their home. It’s probably fair to say that each person reading this has been affected by this storm in some way.

Chances are you know someone who lives there. You’re probably worried about their well being, especially if you haven’t heard from them. This is a natural reaction to any sort of widespread emergency, especially one that has been so widely publicized.

Now, imagine the constant worry that you and your family may feel if ballot measure 5A does not pass. The wail of a fire engine siren may take on a new meaning, as the promise of two permanently closed stations will undoubtedly increase response time for emergencies large and small.

Locally we have flirted with disaster all summer and fall, with extremely dry, windy conditions. The community served by the Eagle River Fire Protection District has recently been faced with mitigating large emergencies, including a semi rollover, the Chambertin fire, and the Beaver Bench structure fire, among other incidents.

We were extremely fortunate that the response to these incidents was sufficient to protect lives, save properties as feasible, and prevent these incidents from escalating into large-scale wildland fires. This was especially fortuitous considering that during all of these incidents, fire stations throughout Eagle River’s service area were closed.

This letter is not meant to scare you. It’s meant to ensure you know the effects of your vote on 5A in this election.

A “no” vote ensures longer response times, less fire protection, and higher property insurance rates. A yes vote won’t prevent emergencies from happening. A “yes” vote will ensure the residents and visitors in Eagle River Fire’s boundaries receive the absolute highest level of fire protection and emergency response that can be provided.

Without your yes vote, this community will be left vulnerable and highly susceptible to the very emergencies that Eagle River firefighters are trained to provide. However, if we can’t pay firefighters to staff our local fire stations 24/7, this training is meaningless.

Vote “yes” on 5A.

Clint Janssen


Yes to 5A

My name is Bryan Nagle. I work for Eagle River Fire Protection District. As you may have seen, many of us have been writing letters to the editor regarding ballot measure 5A.

We have been writing these letters for one reason: because Eagle River Fire Protection District provides an essential service to this community. We’re not writing to save our jobs. We’re writing because we want to continue providing professional service to our community.

We are trained to serve in a timely, efficient and professional manner. The moment you call 911, your problem immediately becomes our problem. We respond with the attitude that we will not quit until the job is done. We will risk a lot to save a lot.

Eagle River Fire currently provides staff for five fire stations, although lately, there has only been enough staff to regularly fill three or four of those stations that provide service from the top of Tennessee Pass to Wolcott. We split I-70 at Dowd Junction (one of the most dangerous stretches of highway in the entire state) with Vail Fire Emergency Services, and our boundary line is also split at the Wolcott exit on I-70 with Greater Eagle Fire Protection District.

In between those lines on the map, we do a lot of work to make sure you and your home and business are safe. Eagle River Fire has not built any of the fire stations within its boundaries or renovated any older fire stations. Additionally, Eagle River Fire has not purchased any much-needed equipment since 2008.

The big building on the north side of I-70 near Traer Creek does not belong to us. That building belongs to the ambulance service located in the valley. The brand-new fire station in West Vail isn’t ours, either. That belongs to the Vail Fire Department.

We are currently rotating fire station closures between Minturn, Avon, Edwards and Cordillera as part of the many budget cuts Eagle River Fire is making to balance its depleted budget. Vacant seats on fire engines are no longer filled by paying overtime – we can’t afford it. These station closures have led to increased response times to everyone within our fire district. Whether it’s a medical call, fire alarm, car accident, hazardous materials accident, we have already lost the recommended number of professional firefighters to respond in a reasonable amount of time.

Certain incidents will always pose a challenge to any fire department in Colorado. Wildland fires can be so large that some of the biggest fire departments in the state of Colorado have a difficult time getting a handle on them. That’s why they call for assistance.

When a fire becomes big enough, the state and federal agencies will help, but the local fire departments are responsible for the initial containment of those devastating emergencies.

Voting “yes” on 5A will give Eagle River Fire the availability to respond quickly and professionally to any call within our fire district. We can keep all of our fire stations open and fully staffed 24/7/365.

5A gives Eagle River Fire a temporary mill levy to bring its operational budget back to the 2010 financial year, when Eagle River Fire was able to maintain adequate staffing levels to respond to its many emergencies. Since that time, Eagle River Fire Protection District has cut 70 percent of its administrative staff, eliminated overtime, cut its training budget through operational precision, and deferred purchases of critical equipment.

If it passes, local insurance agents have said the cost of 5A will be less than the property insurance increases that will be inevitable without the mill levy, as two fire stations will permanently close in 2014.

I am newly married and a new Edwards homeowner, so this measure also affects me personally. I know I would rather pay a little more for this tax and have professional fire and emergency service for my wife, family, friends and visitors than pay more for insurance. Insurance couldn’t begin to replace all that I stand to lose if our community doesn’t have proper fire protection.

Bryan Nagle


Change I believe in

For those who stand alone, above and outside of the delusional proletariat, you may have witnessed over the past four years a degenerative backslide of these “United” States of America.

This is also true for Eagle County, where we feel this decline on a more personal basis. Witness the following indicia:

(1) The decline in the productivity and/or enjoyment of both public and private lands, what with the federal curtailment of exploration and development of fossil fuels, owing to the arbitrary denial of permits such as Keystone, the excessive regulation and intrusion from the likes of the EPA, Department of the Interior and the United Nations;.

Here in Eagle County, we have a parallel with the elimination of developable private property to the enrichment of certain chosen landowners, all through the use of public tax monies and with little or no direct benefit to the public at large.

An economic mind would think that we would protect and cultivate the paucity of private land we do have in order to enhance the prosperity of the local taxpayers, especially in a county where no more than 17 percent of available land is private, and then perhaps only 75 percent of that can be developed under extant county regulations.

Need I say that private land in Eagle County is a rarity and should be cultivated to the highest and best use? Perhaps we need a philosophical adjustment on the Board of County Commissioners.

(2) The diminishment in the credit rating of U.S. Treasury obligations from its historic AAA status, and this as a result of the irresponsible and insatiable spending appetite of the federal government. Witness our annual deficits of over $1 trillion for four years running, accumulating a debt of over $16 trillion. Where government feathers its nest first and foremost, we now have the cost of administrative services in a bloated condition to the detriment of the struggling and starving private sector.

This is also evident in our own backyard, with administrative salaries and bonuses in our school district far and away in excess of those of teachers on the front line. We see it in even in the statutory salaries of the commissioners themselves, as they command $72,000 per year for a mandatory five hours a week of “toil.” That equates to about $300 per hour.

In our mind’s eye, the importance of the role of government is a bit overstated as reflected in the remuneration it demands for its privileged class.

Perhaps we should choose our county commissioners from those who would altruistically serve rather that from a segment of society that needs a job and some recognition of importance.

(3) The matriculation of the middle class (composed of taxpayers) to a subordinate class as a result of stagnant or increasing unemployment evidenced by no less than 23 million job seekers, the increase of those on some sort of welfare or entitlement, and the destruction of a taxpaying base is overwhelming to a healthy economy.

With 34 federal “czars” and their minions churning out regulations that strangle both existing and prospective new businesses and an undecipherable and suffocating taxing structure, the job fomenting engine of our society has all but been shut down or outsourced to free market economies elsewhere.

Eagle County’s land use regulations, as well as a myriad of others (medical marijuana, open space, etc.), also are so oppressive, discouraging and bewildering as to stifle a middle class consisting of developers, construction and hospitality workers, tradesmen and retailers in general.

The governmental front-end and impact fees and costs just to merely construct a home either prohibit that activity or relegate it to the upper-class cost of a corporate retreat or billionaire’s showplace.

We need a president, a senator, a representative and a commissioner who would revisit these draconian rules and regulations and revise them to stimulate the economy. Heretofore, we have been overly concerned with a social agenda without the means to afford it.

Perhaps a change of personnel, federal, state and local, would bring back the principles of the free market and governments of servitude rather than the self-indulgence of those who would only govern and control.

Fredric Butler

No. 1 issue

I do not think politicians (the majority being men) have the right to legislate and decide women’s health choices.

Having said that, I have turned to quote from a piece by Thomas J. Friedman (who is far more articulate than I) to better express the concern and fear in my heart for the rights of women in this supposedly enlightened age.

The mainstream consensus on this issue in America is thus:

“That consensus says that those who choose to oppose abortion in their own lives for reasons of faith or philosophy should be respected, but those women who want to make a different personal choice over what happens with their own bodies should be respected, and have legal protection to do so, as well. …”

“To those who want to protect a woman’s right to control what happens with her own body, let me offer just one piece of advice: To name something is to own it. If you can name an issue, you can own the issue, and we must stop letting Republicans name themselves ‘pro-life’ and Democrats as ‘pro-choice.’ It’s a huge distortion.”

“In my world you don’t get to call yourself ‘pro-life’ and be against common sense gun control – like banning public access to the kind of semiautomatic assault rifle, designed for warfare, that was used recently in a Colorado theater. You don’t call yourself ‘pro-life’ and want to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency, which ensures clean air and water, prevents childhood asthma, preserves biodiversity, and combats climate change that could disrupt every life on the planet. You don’t get to call yourself ‘pro-life’ and oppose programs like Head Start that provide basic education, health and nutrition for the most disadvantaged children. You can call yourself a ‘pro-conception-to-birth conservative.’ I will never refer to someone who pickets Planned Parenthood but lobbies against common-sense gun laws as ‘pro-life.'”

How I wish I were as smart and articulate as Tom Friedman.

The possibility of Romney-Ryan Supreme Court nominees is the No. 1 reason to vote for the president.

Susan Black


Strong ticket

Eagle County and its northern neighbor Routt together make up newly redistricted House District 26, a surprisingly politically balanced region in our very important swing state.

As of Halloween, Democrats within Eagle County have requested 5,034 mail-in ballots compared to Republicans’ 4,974- making Eagle into what looks like Colorado’s most balanced county, according to this measure of partisanship. However, Republican ballot returns are still leading Democrats by 3,007 to 2,696.

The past four election cycles have made Democratic Party candidates into winners in Eagle County, and will do so again this year after Democrats return all their mail-in ballots directly to clerk’s offices or appear to vote on Election Day.

Also, we can expect unaffiliated voters to mark their ballots with their thinking caps on and their own best interests in mind. Registered Democrats like myself may tend toward the liberal, but our candidates are squarely in the middle of the political spectrum, where a lot of unaffiliated voters prefer them to be.

That is why Democrats do regularly win elections in balanced Eagle County.

Republican spin machines claim the GOP can do more for the economy, but facts flat out contradict this wishful thinking. Local Ken Ransford’s excellent new website – – will show you how Democratic presidents have far outperformed Republican administrations on a variety of unbiased economic indicators from annual growth in GDP to stock market performance.

The Democratic economic advantage shows up over short- and long-term analysis.

Vote and vote wisely – for our Democratic candidates.

Vote Polis, Pace, Mitsch Bush and Jill Ryan for Eagle County.

House District 26 is lucky to have a powerful and vivacious candidate in Diane Mitsch Bush, a much-respected and effective protector of local interests as two term Routt County commissioner.

Diane is an open-minded, vibrant, well-informed and experienced proponent who will be a fabulous representative in Denver. Be sure to check which of these, if any, are true of her competitor.

John Stavney is an incumbent commissioner of Eagle County who has attracted so much widespread support in his first term we are sure to see him return for a second.

The other open commissioner seat has three candidates, of whom Democrat Jill Ryan is the only candidate we can count on to bring a much complimented intelligence, capacity for listening and expertise in health and human services to the important job of caretaking for our county.

Every time you see that wavy lined R logo on one of the 130 4×8 signboards across our county, notice how the red just dribbles out early but the deep blue band carries all the way to the end. That’s another subliminal reminder of how blue is going to outperform red in our mountain counties and across the nation.

Remember to vote for Jared Polis, Sal Pace, Diane Mitsch Bush, Jill Ryan, Jessica Garrow, Stephen Ludwig.

You will know if I have left anyone out.

Harvie Branscomb Co-Chair, Eagle County Democratic Party Yes to 5A

I am a homeowner in Edwards, and I’m voting “yes” on 5A for Eagle River Fire Protection District. Fire service, like water, sewer and trash services, is something our modern society is very reliant on, but perhaps you don’t think twice about it. It’s always going to be there when you need it, right?

Not so for fire protection if ballot measure 5A doesn’t pass. This temporary increase in your taxes will ensure Eagle River Fire Protection District has sufficient funds with which to continue providing this critical service. It’s worth the small amount your tax bill will increase, and will only be in effect until property values recover to 2010 levels. If not, two Eagle River Fire stations will permanently close in 2014.

The number of needed Eagle River Fire District stations and firefighters isn’t pulled out of thin air. These figures are based on the response time required to effectively mitigate a fire or respond to a medical emergency and save lives, and also take into account the large area Eagle River Fire is charged with protecting.

Anyone who has ever extinguished a small campfire before turning in for the night knows that it takes a lot more water than you’d think to ensure that fire is completely out. Firefighting isn’t just a job – it’s a science. A two-person crew cannot enter a burning building without two people outside to provide backup and be the eyes and ears for the firefighters inside who are surrounded by heat, smoke and flames. This two-in, two-out system is based on national firefighting standards.

Standards also govern the issuance of the Public Protection Classification rating, which is given to fire departments by the Insurance Service Office . One consideration is the fire department’s first-alarm response and initial fire attack to minimize potential loss.

The Insurance Service Office considers personnel, staffing levels, training records, and fire station distribution along with things such as water supply, fire alarms, and communication systems. This rating is then used by insurance companies to set premiums for home and business insurance rates.

Without a sufficient number of staffed, always-open fire stations in Eagle River Fire’s boundaries, the Insurance Service Office rating for our area will worsen. Insurance companies will have no choice but to increase our property insurance. No one knows how much.

We do know how much Eagle River Fire is asking for, and we do know that amount will go down as the economy improves and property values reach 2010 levels.

High-tech alarms and sprinkler systems can only do so much in the event of a fire. They certainly don’t negate the need for a fire department that can sufficiently respond to any calls that come in. There is much aging infrastructure in our valley, built prior to stricter and more protective fire codes. These properties are especially reliant on a quick response from Eagle River Fire.

Fire protection is a basic service that we all need, whether we’ve had a firsthand experience that makes us realize this or not. You don’t question the need for water or sewer service. You know that when you turn on your tap or flush your toilet, the things that need to happen will happen.

Ensure that when you call 911 for a fire, car wreck, or medical incident, what needs to happen will happen: The fire department will show up immediately and mitigate your emergency.

Anything less than that is simply unacceptable, from an insurance standpoint, as well as a human one.

Raina Goulet


Just a figurehead?

A question that occasionally arises in conversation is whether the president is just a figurehead, and the answer depends on the person more than the position. Any president should meet often with his advisers, chief of staff and his Cabinet, which includes the secretaries of defense, state, and the attorney general (to name but a few). A figurehead shouldn’t have need for any advisers, let alone department heads.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton are being thrown under the proverbial bus to shield the executive office from blame for the Benghazi consulate disaster. A mere figurehead should not be capable of doing anything that requires such shielding.

At the same time Attorney General Eric Holder is being protected from all accusations of wrongdoing in the “Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal. Both incidents resulted in multiple American deaths, so why is the Obama administration using Panetta and Clinton as scapegoats while shielding Holder?

If the president were just a figurehead, he would not have the power to do these things. If this president had no influence over Congress, both Houses would already be conducting special investigations into these cover-ups and initiating impeachment proceedings, just as they did to President Nixon in response to the Watergate scandal. Please bear in mind that no one died as a result of Watergate, yet Nixon was forced to resign.

Few leaders of other countries would waste their time meeting with a mere figurehead, yet several have met with Obama, including Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. In that meeting, President Barack Obama was caught on camera assuring outgoing Russian President Medvedev that he will have “more flexibility after the election” to deal with contentious issues like missile defense. In response to Obama’s comment, President Medvedev said, “I will transmit this information to Vladimir (Putin).”

Why should a figurehead need “flexibility”? Also, if anyone fails to find those comments disturbing, they are not informed enough to have an opinion. If you think the president has a right to conduct secret negotiations with foreign leaders without inform- ing the American people, then you might at least want to question the intelligence of discussing such things in a public forum. Why is no one enraged over this? Where is the media?

Meanwhile, in light of all these dire matters, Obama launches a desperate campaign ad comparing voting your very first time to losing your virginity. In reality voting for Obama this time would be more like having unprotected sex with a known crack whore on a dare. You will certainly regret it in the morning, and probably for the rest of your life.

Buddy Shipley


Don’t be fooled

Those thinking of voting for Barack Obama on Tuesday, please keep in mind that old saying: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Fortunately, term limits will prevent any of us from being fooled a third time by this president.

Herb Rammrath


Vote for my dad!

When my dad, Chuck McConnell, told me he was tossing his hat into the ring for House District 26, I started listing different ways I could help his campaign.

It’s true, my dad isn’t just another career politician. He’s a proven business leader who literally knows what it’s like to sign both the front and the back of a paycheck. He understands how to create jobs while keeping a budget balanced.

But with all the negative campaign ads and nasty mudslinging filling the airwaves, I decided it was best to write you and tell you about the Chuck McConnell I know, my dad.

My favorite memories of Dad involve our common interest in horses. Dad and I share a love for animals and the outdoors that we inherited from my grandparents. I can still remember what an incredible thrill it was the very first time Dad sat me on the back of a horse to ride by myself.

My dad always enjoyed teaching us how to navigate the kitchen. My favorite was making desserts, especially fudge. He would always let me clean the pot after it cooled!

When I got older, my dad bought and restored a beautiful red 1964 Pontiac GTO that I loved! One evening I called him in tears because there was something wrong with the car – it started, but it just wouldn’t drive.

Dad came to my rescue and then made a grand production of examining the car from top to bottom. I nervously chewed my fingernails until he finally proclaimed that it was probably something very serious, but that I should first disengage the emergency brake so we could make sure. … He had realized immediately what the problem was, and he couldn’t resist making me sweat a little!

My dad was always there to take care of us, and he still makes personal sacrifices for his family.

My husband, Ken, and I have seven children: Quinn, Chelsea, Veronica, Clare, Regan, Penelope, and Declan. When my daughter Regan was born prematurely with very serious health problems in 2006, Dad came to Michigan to help us take care of our other children.

Without Dad’s help, we could not have spent as much time with Regan in the neonatal intensive care unit. Dad provided much-needed emotional support for us as we dealt with the anxiety of Regan’s medical issues.

He taxied our other children to and from school and drove me to and from Regan’s hospital until I had recovered from my own C-section surgery enough to drive myself. He even changed diapers!

I firmly believe that my dad would make a great state representative because he is a man of integrity and will stand firmly on principle and not be swayed by lobbyists or special interests. He is not afraid to lead by example and do what’s right, regardless of the cost.

If you ask me why you should vote for my dad, it’s simple: Chuck McConnell will stand up for northwest Colorado. He will be a good steward of your tax dollars and liberties. I know he will always look beyond the surface of issues in search of unintended consequences.

I know that if elected, my dad, Chuck McConnell, will make you proud as a state representative.

Jennifer McConnell Treece

Steamboat Springs

For the children

The final debate once again drew the nation’s attention to the extraordinary difficulties our leaders face. Whoever is elected president will confront international conflicts as well as the problems caused by the financial crash of 2008.

The newly elected Congress must join the administration to clean up a $16 trillion national debt and lower a nearly 8 percent unemployment rate.

With the heavy toll on the middle class, a full 15 percent of Americans are in poverty.

In the aftermath of the crash, American children have fared even worse – 22 percent of them are poor.

No matter who wins in November, the road forward will be rocky. To avoid the across-the-board budget slashing, the current Congress and administration will have to make difficult spending decisions shortly after the election. The cuts will be drastic by necessity. Few if any industries or programs will be spared. But along the path to financial stability and economic recovery, some things must be sacrosanct.

As a pediatrician caring for children in the Vail Valley, I admit that I have a strong bias. My bias is that children matter to our future and to our present. Children make up 24 percent of the U.S. population. Yet they received little attention in the debates. This just doesn’t make sense, since investments in children’s health and education offer solutions to some of our most serious economic challenges, including high health care costs and the pressing need for American workers with skills to stand up to global competition.

How our nation treats its children reflects our societal values. Children can’t vote. They depend on us — parents, grandparents, pediatricians, teachers, and other child health advocates and professionals – to do right by them, stand up for them and advocate for what they need to grow and prosper. It is critical that political leaders do the same.

Despite the economic challenges we’ve all faced since 2008, there has been significant progress for children: the passage of the Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act, the Healthy Hunger Free Kid’s Act and the expansion of Head Start. This is no time to turn back that progress. Yet programs like the Prevention and Public Health Fund, pediatric research at the National Institutes of Health, and many maternal and child health programs are on the chopping block.

Depending on which way Congress decides to act, so is Medicaid, the single largest health insurance program for low-income children. Budget cuts now being proposed at the federal, state and local levels will push more children into poverty, and provide poorer education and health care. Many children in the Vail Valley depend on Medicaid for their health care needs.

I believe that Coloradans and Americans want what’s best for our children. In order to provide the best we can in health care, education and opportunity, we must continue to invest in children from the ground up, not cut crucial programs that do just that. We must make children our bottom line.

Jeff Brown


Little respect for women

Mitt Romney does not support equal pay for women. President Barack Obama supports all women who work. President Obama respects women as equals. President Obama protects the rights of women. The first bill that he signed as president was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, supporting women who work.

Romney refused to endorse the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Romney promised to do away with Planned Parenthood if elected. Romney promised to name U.S. Supreme Court justices who will abolish Roe v. Wade. These are actions against women’s rights. Romney does not support equal pay for women. Mitt Romney does not respect women who work. Romney does not respect working women as President Obama does.

Please vote for President Barack Obama before or on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Betsy Hendrickson


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