Vail Valley locals want action from next president |

Vail Valley locals want action from next president

Melanie Wong and Nikki Inglis
Eagle County, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY ” From the young ski resort worker in Vail to the small business worker in Gypsum, the tough economy is affecting county residents ” and some say they are looking to the next president to take action.

Less than a week before the election, residents across the valley said that besides candidates John McCain’s and Barack Obama’s economic plans, their votes are decided by political philosophies and concern over health care and the Iraq war.

And while a downvalley homeowner might have different concerns than an upvalley recent college graduate, most echoed the belief that the next president would make decisions that would have very direct impacts on their lives.

Avon resident Amanda Hansen, 30, summed it up ” “I think that people are given a lot of hope right now. I think past candidates didn’t really speak to people and didn’t really reach everyone’s concerns. Both candidates this year have addressed that,” she said.

The transport driver for Village Transportation in Beaver Creek said she that while she thought both candidates were excellent, Obama’s health care policy especially resonated with her.

“Right now I don’t have health insurance,” she said. “I feel like under his program, I could find a decent plan that works for me.”

Avon resident Brandon Ford, 30, who recently moved from New York, said about a third of his friends who are young professionals have recently been laid off.

“The job market is just in bad shape. It’s not a good time to be entering the workforce,” said Ford, a recent law school graduate.

He said also likes Obama’s plan for the Iraq war.

“(The war) has turned back time and the principles we’ve established as a country,” said Ford, a former U.S. Marine.

Gypsum pharmacist John Geddes, 59, said health care is a big issue for him because insurance policies affect his business.

“I think that the Democrat’s idea of socialized health care will ruin health care,” said Geddes, who already voted for McCain. “If the people had more control and had to make their own decisions about what kind of health care they wanted, it would work a lot better. I believe that Obama is a socialist and that if there is any other free country I would move there if he was elected.”

Insurance companies are already cutting their payments to pharmacies, he said.

“We are making less and less every year, and socialized medicine is not the answer,” said Geddes.

Still, other residents said they were basing their votes on national or philosophical issues, regardless of which end of the valley they lived on.

For Avon resident Shane Musgrove, 25, his decision to vote for McCain is based on fundamental political differences with Obama.

Reports and Obama’s own memoirs show that he has had associations with political radicals, and his ideas about big government and redistribution of wealth are worrisome, said Musgrove, a manager for a travel company.

“His philosophy is extremely liberal, and he has a lot of socialistic ideas,” he said. “I disagree fundamentally with the ideas of socialism and that alone would keep me from voting for him. I don’t think it’s the government’s duty to redistribute wealth and provide universal health care.”

And while he said he isn’t happy with what Republicans have done and is concerned about government spending, health care, and the state of the economy, he doesn’t think “more government” is the answer.

He’d rather support McCain, who advocates more limited federal government and would spend more conservatively, he said.

“I don’t think (Obama) will help our economy,” he said. “Taxing businesses is probably the worst thing you can do. Maybe we’ll get a $500 or $1,000 tax break, but when businesses have to lay off people because of increased taxes, that $500 won’t matter.”

He said he thinks the quality of health care would suffer under a universal health-care system.

“What reason do we have to believe that a universal health-care program would be efficient, be great health care, or be long-term?” he said. “What has our government done correctly? To put that into government’s hand would be an utter failure.”

Aurora Usura, owner Salsa’s Mexican Restaurant in Gypsum, said the Iraq war is key concern for her.

“Obama can bring the troops home, and even though I have no family involved there, those are our kids, our people, over there,” said Usura, 46. “We really need a change. We don’t want to follow Bush.”

She added that she simply doesn’t like McCain.

“I don’t like the way he treats Hispanics, and he doesn’t have any kids,” said Usura. “I think we really just need to get the right guy in there and get this country back to the way it was seven years ago.”

Edwards resident Amanda Ponzer, 23, said that after debating between McCain and Obama early on in the campaign, she’s decided to vote for Obama. She said she’s also concerned about her financial future.

“I’m worried about my own Social Security and my parents’ Social Security. Their retirement is in jeopardy, and I’d like to know that it’ll be there when I retire,” said Ponzer, who works as a server.

But her choice mainly came down to character and who she thought she could trust, she said.

“I really appreciate that Obama hasn’t put out more campaign ads (attacking McCain) as it gets closer to the election,” she said. “I feel like especially with the economy the way it is, everything is different in this election. We need someone honest, that we can trust.

Vail Antlers manager Rob LeVine, 52, said he is worried about the economy just like everybody else, but it isn’t his top concern.

He said he agrees with Obama’s tax cut plan, but “it’s not going to change the number of guests coming to Vail this winter.”

Changing the country’s foreign policy is more important for him, he said.

“That’s something we’ll have to live with for not the next two months or two years, but forever,” he said. “What happens in foreign policy can set the stage for the indeterminate future. Obama has the potential to restore America’s standing in the world and improve our foreign relations.”

Downvalley, residents had their eye on the ski economy just as much as upvalley residents.

“There’s plenty of people getting laid off, and there’s much concern over whether people are going to come and ski,” said Charlie Brown, owner of the Mountain Pedaler bike shop in Eagle.

His business is very much affected by the upvalley ski economy, he said.

“If you’re working upvalley on the mountain, or in a restaurant, and you’re not making money, then you don’t buy bikes,” he said. “Also, real estate and construction are huge here, and it all stems from the ski business.”

He said he sees this as a historic election and will be very interested to see the results.

“My mind’s made up,” said Brown, who declined to say which candidate he is voting for. “I just want the smartest guy in there when it comes down to it.”

Gypsum grocery store owner John Reale, 50, said his top issue is also the economy ” as a business owner and home owner, he is already feeling the effects of the economy, he said.

“My house value has gone down $60K or $70K,” said Reale, who he still hasn’t decided on a candidate. “We have a lot of transient workers here, and they can’t leave, or they won’t be here buying groceries. The people that build Vail, all the worker bees ” they live down here.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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