Who wants to be a commissioner? | VailDaily.com

Who wants to be a commissioner?

Veronica Whitney

Age: 36

Profession: Housing planner with Eagle County.

Family: Cat, Amie.

Home: Gypsum.

Favorite book: “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” by Richard Bach.

Favorite restaurant: Home cooked food.

Favorite movie: “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

Favorite ski run: Riva Ridge, Vail.

Hobbies: Horseback riding, belly dancing, playing bass guitar.

Motto: “Always be true to yourself.”

Laurie Bower is a current member of the Colorado State Housing Board and a former co-chair of the Colorado Association of Realtors Legislative Committee. This is Bower’s second bid for elected office. In 1996, she was a Democratic candidate for the State Senate, District 8. Weeks before the election, however, Bower decided to endorse her opponent, Dave Wattenberg, because she said at the time Wattenberg was in a better position to help people. Bower decided to run for county commissioner in July when she gathered the 160 signatures needed to enter the race as an independent candidate.


Gerry Sandberg (Democrat)

Age: 59

Profession: Chief investigator for the Eagle County District Attorneys Office.

Family: Wife, Arlene; daughter, Annika, 11.

Home: Gypsum.

Favorite book: “The Civil War,” by Ken Burns

Favorite restaurant: My home, having a meal with my family and friends.

Favorite movie: Likes a variety.

Favorite ski run: Doesn’t ski, it’s too expensive.

Hobbies: Fishing, hiking, gardening.

Motto: “Don’t stumble over something behind you.”

Gerry Sandberg has been an investigator with the District Attorney’s Office for 17 years. Prior to that, he worked for 10 years as a high school teacher and served on active duty for four years with the U.S. Marines.

Sandberg also was twice re-elected to a seat on the Eagle County Board of Education. Sandberg has represented Western Slope municipalities on the Colorado Wildlife Management and Public Education Advisory boards.


Tom Stone (incumbent Republican)

Age: 49

Profession: Eagle County commissioner, District 3, and real estate broker.

Family: Wife, Henri-Karen; daughter, Brittney-Aspen, 24; and son, Jeremiah, 26.

Home: Gypsum

Favorite book: Collected speeches of Abraham Lincoln.

Favorite restaurant: Salsa’s in Eagle.

Favorite movie: “Doctor Zhivago.”

Favorite ski run: Blue Ox, Vail.

Hobby: Riding horses.

Motto: “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.”

Commissioner Tom Stone was elected to the Eagle County Board of County Commissioners in 1998. He served as chairman of the board in 2000 and 2001. Stone represents Eagle County on: the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, Rural Resort Region; the Colorado River Water Conservation District; the Ruedi Reservoir Water and Power Authority; and the Partnership for Education. He also is an alternate to the Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau’s board of directors. He is currently serving his second term on the National Association of Counties’ Public Lands Steering Committee and was appointed by Gov. Bill Owens to the State Interagency Wildland/Urban Interface Working Group and Forest Advisory Committee. He also serves on Colorado Counties’ Agriculture, Wildlife and Rural Affairs Steering Committee, its Land Use and Natural Resources Steering Committee and its CCI Public Lands Steering Committee.


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Three candidates from Gypsum will face off in the Nov. 5 election for the District 3 commissioner’s seat: incumbent Tom Stone, a Republican, who was elected in Nov. 1998; Gerry Sandberg, a Democrat; and Laurie Bower, an unaffiliated candidate.

The trio will square off at a candidate’s forum Monday at 7 p.m. in the commissioners’ chambers at the Eagle County building, 550 Broadway, in Eagle.

Why do you want to be a commissioner?

Laurie Bower – “Because it’s time for a new form of government and because I care about this community. I believe the people of this county are tired of partisan bickering and politics as usual and that they are ready for an independent voice to represent them.”

Gerry Sandberg – “This is my home, my community. My father-in-law was born here. Here is where my daughter was born and where I want to raise her.”

Tom Stone – “I want to continue to be a commissioner because it’s been an honor to serve the people of this county. I have unfinished goals that I have left to accomplish. Among those: development of a recreational complex at the Berry Creek 5th project (in Edwards) and construction of an assisted-living center for seniors.”

What qualifies you to be a county commissioner?

Bower – “Five years of dedication and tangible work on affordable-housing issues as a housing planner with Eagle County, a Realtor, a legislative committee chair and a member of the State Housing Board. I have worked in county government and I have and worked throughout Eagle County in a variety of situations, which have enabled me to truly understand the needs of the community.”

Sandberg – “My best qualification is that for 17 years I’ve been in the District’s Attorneys Office. I’m not a real estate agent, I’m not a developer, I’m not a contractor or a builder. I’m not tied to anybody or anything. For 17 years, what I’ve done is weigh facts and information and make decisions based on the best information. And that’s what I’d do as a commissioner.”

Stone – “My record of accomplishments and promises kept over the past four years qualifies me to continue. Also a clear vision for the future of Eagle County.”

What do you consider the most pressing issues in the county?

Bower – “My platform revolves around the following five issues: responsible growth and land planning; continued commitment to local housing issues; effective resource management, timber/forest management and protection of water rights and recreational amenities; economic development and diversification; safety, emergency preparedness and communication, lowering traffic accidents and the crime rate.”

Sandberg – “I feel a lot of things are tied to housing, like wages, child care, and open space. There isn’t such a thing as affordable housing here. Even the Berry Creek 5th project will be moderate-priced housing.”

Stone – “Water. We will face threats of other people wanting our water. Also, the local economy is very important and we need to be proactive in developing a climate for business that is good for locals as well as being environmentally sensitive.”

Where do you see this county going?

Bower – “I would like to see less people forced to commute long distances to their jobs. I would like to see teachers and firemen able to purchase their own homes and our most precious views preserved for future generations. I would like to see more professional and diverse career opportunities as well as continued job training.”

Sandberg – “Sustained growth, sensible growth. Eagle County has to become more diverse, get away from a one-industry economy. We’re healthy now, but tax revenues will be going down with the down turn of the economy. We need to look at tomorrow and the possibility of bringing low impact industries.”

Stone – “We began a couple of years ago to make a change from a construction-based economy. Where most people would like to go is to maintain our quality of life while allowing for a reasonable, managed growth. We need to be aware of our limits.”

What will you do if you become a commissioner?

Bower – “If they haven’t been adopted yet, I would move forward with immediate adoption of affordable housing regulations currently being reviewed by the county commissioners. I would also meet with the county planning commission to determine ways that we can be more efficient and synchronized, with our new sheriff to discuss ways to handle rising crime rate, and with representatives of all local governments.”

Sandberg – “Look at a master plan for the entire county. We need to master plan the entire picture. The key to continued success in Eagle County lies in building intergovernmental relationships and recognizing that what affects one affects us all. Eliminate turf battles. I want to initiate countywide forums that bring leaders from all municipalities and industries together to discuss and seek solutions for economic long-term stability.

“I’m a consensus type of person. I fully believe that you’re only as good and effective as the people that you surround yourself with and we have many good people in the county that need to have a voice.”

Stone – “Continue to look for a balance in what I call our “continuum of housing’: Have an appropriate number of homes affordable to all income brackets. Secondly, I want to work hard to clean the sand sedimentation on Vail Pass. Thirdly, I want to develop a water trust. All these things will require a continued intergovernmental relationship. Also, continue to work on senior issues, affordable day care and preserving natural resources.”

Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at vwhitney@vaildaily.com.

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