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Voters head to the polls

Scott N. Miller
Kira Horvath/Vail DailyKelly Coffey waves to motorists at the main Avon roundabout as he campaigns for approval of the Eagle County child services tax, which is among the most controversial issues on Tuesday's ballot.
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EAGLE COUNTY ” After months of local, state and national campaigning, vote-counting starts at 7 p.m.

Counting the votes in Eagle County may take some time, depending on how many absentee ballots end up in the Eagle County Clerk and Recorder’s offices at the last minute. Those paper ballots take some time to run through the counting machines. In addition, a smudge on the ballot means local election officials have to hand-count six state ballot issues.

When the votes are finally counted, we’ll know the results of a host of campaigns for elective office and a historic number of ballot issues. Here’s a very brief look at what’s on this fall’s long, long ballot.

– County Commissioner

Who’s running: Democrat Sara Fisher, Republican Tom Edwards and independent Roger Brown.

Fisher is a former Eagle County Clerk and Recorder, Edwards is a member of the Gypsum Town Council and several volunteer boards, and Brown is a documentary filmmaker who has lobbied state, federal and local officials on topics including water rights, designated wilderness areas and land use.

– Sheriff

Who’s running: Republican incumbent Joe Hoy and Democrat challenger Scott Griffin.

– Assessor

Who’s running: Democrat Mark Chapin and Republican Ed Smith. Chapin worked in the assessor’s office for 14 years before leaving last year. Smith a current employee in the office, has worked there 19 years.

– Clerk and Recorder

Who’s running: Incumbent Teak Simonton is running unopposed.

– Treasurer

Who’s running: Incumbent Karen Sheaffer is running unopposed.

– Coroner

Who’s running: Incumbent Kara Bettis is running unopposed.

– Surveyor

Who’s running: Incumbent Dan Corcoran is running unopposed.

Avon Town Council

Who’s running: Incumbent Mayor Ron Wolfe, incumbent Councilman Brian Sipes, Avon Planning Commission Member Chris Green, former councilman Pete Buckley, Rich Carroll, David Dantas and Karri Willemssen. Four of the seven candidates will be elected.

This race has turned emotional, and, in some cases, personal. Magnus Lindholm, developer of the Village at Avon, is unhappy with the current council and is supporting Willemssen, Dantas, Carroll and Buckley. The incumbents and Green say they’ve been tough, but fair with Lindholm.

– Referendum 1A

What it’s about: A proposed county property tax increase that would pay for “child services” including health care for poor children, home visits to families with “at risk” kids, and, perhaps, pay raises for people working in state-certified daycare centers and preschools.

Supporters say the tax increase can save kids from trouble with the law later on. Opponents say there’s not enough specificity about how the money would be spent.

The new tax would add about $48 per year to the tax bill on a home worth $400,000

– Referendum 1B

What it’s about: Voters last year elected a commission to draft a new county charter. This is the result of last year’s election. The new “home rule” charter would increase the number of county commissioners from three to five, and remove party affiliation from county election ballots. The new charter would also create a way for people to create ballot issues by petition, but that power is limited.

Opponents say the new charter costs too much money and delivers too little. Supporters say it will increase representation, especially for the Basalt/El Jebel area.

– Referendum 3B

What it’s about: This is a proposed tax increase to pay for $128 million in new debt for the Eagle County School District. The new tax would add $123 per year to the tax bill on a $400,000 home.

The borrowed money would pay for a new high school in Edwards to replace Battle Mountain High School. The bond would also pay for a new elementary school in Edwards, buy land near Eagle for a new high school to be built perhaps in 10 years.

Money would also be used for building repairs and upgrades, as well as new computer equipment.

Supporters say land for a new high school needs to be bought now, and argue that Battle Mountain High School should have been replaced years ago.

Opponents say there’s more life in Battle Mountain, and the district first needs to make better use of the resources it has.

– Referendum 5A and 5B

What it’s about: Referendum 5A is a proposed tax increase for the Eagle Valley Library District. It would add about $40 per year to the tax bill on a home worth $400,000.

The companion question, 5B, asks for permission to take on as much as $15 million in new debt. That money would be used to expand the libraries in Eagle and Avon. District officials aren’t making any promises, but say the money could also be used to build a new branch library in Gypsum.

– Governor

Who’s running: Democrat Bill Ritter and Republican Bob Beauprez.

Polls show Ritter with a big lead.

– State Representative, District 56

Who’s running: Republican Ken Chlouber and Democrat Dan Gibbs.

This district, which includes Eagle, Summit and Lake counties, is an open seat. Rep. Gary Lindstrom is not running for re-election. Because it’s an open seat, the race has brought in quite a bit of advertising money from outside the district.

– Secretary of State

Who’s running: Republican Mike Coffman and Democrat Ken Gordon.

Coffman used to be state treasurer, Gordon is a former state legislator.

– Treasurer

Who’s running: Republican Mark Hillman and Democrat Cary Kennedy.

Another open seat. Hillman is a former state senator.

– Attorney General

Who’s running: Democrat Fern O’Brien and Republican John Suthers.

Suthers is the incumbent, appointed to the job by Gov. Bill Owens after former Attorney General Ken Salazar won a U.S. Senate seat. This is Suthers’ first chance for election.

Ballot issues

– Amendment 38

What it’s about: It would ease the petition process for both state and local ballot issues. Opponents say this year’s massive ballot would be the rule, not the exception, if the measure passes.

– Amendment 39

What it’s about: Would require public school districts to spend at least 65 percent of their revenues on “classroom instruction.” Opponents include virtually every school board and teachers union in the state.

– Amendment 40

What it’s about: Would impose 12-year term limits for new appeals court or Supreme Court judges and 10-year limit for those already in office. If the amendment passes, the next governor will appoint five new Supreme Court justices in 2009. Opponents say the amendment would bring too much party politics into the state judiciary.

– Amendment 41

What it’s about: It’s a code of ethics, the high point of which is a complete ban on lobbyists giving “anything of value” to elected officials. Some say if Denver lands the party’s 2008 convention, many state office holders won’t be able to attend events due to the amendment’s restrictions.

– Amendment 42

What it is: The amendment raises the state’s minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.85 per hour, with annual increases based on the state’s inflation rate. Opponents say putting the wage hikes into the state constitution could harm businesses during economic downturns.

– Amendment 43

What it’s about: A proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as only between one man and one woman.

– Amendment 44

What it’s about: Would legalize possession of one ounce or less of marijuana for people 21 and older. Possession now is a misdemeanor.

– Referendum F

What it’s about: Changes the rule for recall elections.

– Referendum G

What it does: Eliminates obsolete provisions of the state constitution.

– Referendum H

What it’s about: It eliminates a state income tax benefit for any business that hires illegal immigrants.

– Referendum I

What it’s about: This would create “domestic partnerships” for same-sex couples, allowing them to share company benefits, Social Security benefits, and make medical decisions for each other. Gay rights groups say the new law is a matter of fairness. Conservative groups, including Focus on the Family, oppose the proposed law as “gay marriage” in disguise.

– Referendum K

What it’s about: Voters have a chance to tell the Colorado attorney general to either start or join a lawsuit against the federal government to demand enforcement of existing federal immigration laws.

Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930, or smiller@vaildaily.com.

Vail Daily, Vail Colorado


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