Eagle County Sheriff: Mid-term elections are this year, and they have local impact (column) | VailDaily.com

Eagle County Sheriff: Mid-term elections are this year, and they have local impact (column)

James van Beek
Valley Voices

James van Beek

"All politics are local," meaning that while we praise and complain about our elected officials, we are always mindful of the ways in which governance affects our daily lives.

Because the issues are frequently sensitive, it is important that we elect officials who are truly committed to improving the lives of those who sacrifice so much to live in this great place we call home. While all are governed by a set of standards, our approach varies.

Vision and innovation are the unseen elements that separate exceptional from ordinary leadership. How we address challenges makes the difference between simply solving an issue and laying the groundwork for future success.

This year is a midterm election year. A new opportunity is available for unaffiliated voters to participate in primaries. They may declare ahead of time in which primary they desire to participate because only one ballot will be recognized. If both are filled out, then the entire vote will be invalidated. If you already know in which primary you desire to participate, then notify the Clerk & Recorders Office and they will send out the proper ballot, saving the county money on mailing and production costs.

On the federal level, there are two races connected to our area: Congressional District 2 and 3. These races are every two years, so if you are happy with your representation or wish for a change, then it is important to express your intent at the ballot box.

Positions at the state level this year are extensive: governor, treasurer, attorney general, secretary of state, two Colorado university regents and the State Board of Education.

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In Eagle County, we have county commissioner of District 3, although all of Eagle County votes for this seat, and positions for treasurer, clerk and recorder, surveyor, coroner, assessor and the sheriff.

County commissioners oversee the running of the entire county. All county agencies must work in conjunction with the commissioners, who regulate various offices and address a combination of executive, judicial and administrative issues, including budgetary allocations and land-use options. Establishing long-term objectives and coordinating differing bodies for implementation are essential to the well-being of the entire county.

County treasurer is the money person. Regardless of your position, nothing gets done without his or her approval. You want someone who is frugal, yet has a vision for the future and what that may cost.

The clerk and recorder is responsible for vital records, including vote certification. He or she also keeps track of important government meetings, which are essential for those who must track changes in order to proceed with planning and budgeting. This person also keeps the county accountable and running smoothly.

Surveyor makes sure that what is yours, remains yours. Boundaries are defined and permits for use must be in compliance with the rights of ownership and the needs of the community. So critical are these boundaries, that property values and use of resources in the area are dependent upon their strict definition. Having someone who understands the complexities of land use and how it merges with the goals of the community is vital to the protection of private property, our community's development, our economic future and the sustainability of our environment.

Assessor is the one who collects the money for running the entire operation. Taxes, fees and other income streams are generated and distributed, and projections for future planning are calculated.

The coroner investigates causes of death, which naturally have a huge impact on the family but also on the legal issues and potential public health concerns. Distinguishing among a criminal cause, accident, toxic condition or natural event is of great importance to the community's health and safety. Did the person die of a contagious disease, preventable mishap, wildlife encounter or fatal assault? Having someone experienced in medical or investigative techniques is essential.

Sheriff is the only elected position in law enforcement and is responsible for the overall safety and security of the entire county, including detention center and court safety responsibilities, as well as the execution of writs. Many details of the implementation of these duties have been described in my regular Vail Daily columns, and I am always available to chat about concerns and community expectations.

As with all of our county's public servants, we work closely with affiliated agencies and nonprofits and create partnerships with local businesses and residents to improve the entire valley. It is important to elect officials who reflect our community values and are transparent and honorable in implementation.

Your participation in the electoral process assures us of continuing the incredible lives we lead in Eagle County. It is an honor to serve.

James van Beek is the Eagle County sheriff. You can reach him at james.vanbeek@eaglecounty.us.