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Vail Daily column: Ah, that’s democracy

Don Rogers
My View
Don Rogers
Laura Mahaffy/lmahaffy@theunion.com | The Union

So, the Republicans rule again.

Last I looked, the Obama train had rolled ’em over, inspiring navel-gazing white papers on why the GOP was dying.

A finger snap in political time later, the president is despised and the Senate has turned red. The Republicans run both houses of Congress.

Look out. It’s the Dems’ turn to lick their wounds and study their navels.

There’s the national picture, nice and clear.

The clarity fuzzes a bit if we focus on the state Capitol. Sure, the Republicans did well, best in a decade, and retook the state Senate. I went to bed election night even thinking Bob Beauprez had beaten Gov. John Hickenlooper.

But not so fast. Hickenlooper’s fortunes rose with the sun and by midday he was declared the winner in the closest of close races.

Congrats to our own Kerry Donovan, by the way, who pulled out a nice victory for a state Senate seat after Republican Don Suppes appeared to have a big lead in the count earlier election night. It’s been awhile since one of our own has represented us in the Legislature.

Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat, repeated in our state House district. She knows us nearly as well as if she shopped in our grocery stores and picked up her mail at one of our post offices.

The Eagle County commissioners will continue as the Three Amigas. Only a name has changed among the trio of Democrats leading our county, with Jeanne McQueeney replacing term-limited Sara Fisher. We’ve come a ways from the historical cranky and conservative ol’ male commissioners, prone to the occasional nap during session if the legends have any root in truth.

You know, we have an awful lot of D’s in our neck of the woods during this ballyhooed Republican resurgence.

Too bad Mark Udall, who put together a textbook case in how to thoroughly screw up a campaign for re-election, couldn’t extend a solid Eagle County preference for him across the state.

Cory Gardner worked harder, made some adroit shifts in positions and thoroughly schooled the incumbent. This was the San Antonio Spurs playing, well, today’s Nuggets, the Broncos against the once-proud Oakland Raiders or maybe CU.

I think we got a sense of the difference in effort when Gardner dropped in and spent nearly an hour with us at the office. Udall never bothered.

In our sheriff’s race, Daric Harvey needed a perfect campaign to beat the better-known James van Beek, who understands Harvey’s pain very well, coming about as close four years ago to unseating Sheriff Joe Hoy as Harvey finished in this race.

There’s a line about horseshoes that applies here, as I reflect on how well the Harvey team performed to bring a relatively unknown new resident to just 60 votes short, out of 16,000 cast.

Meantime, van Beek wasn’t sitting on his hands. He knew he had a hard battle and worthy competitor, and worked hard himself.

All in all, I’m pleased with how it all turned out. The folks who prevailed will do fine jobs in office.

The only entity I worry about is Avon. Their leaders are furiously patting themselves on the back over a flurry of what looks like rash moves and major cost overruns that probably will continue. Starved from enduring litigation with Magnus Lindholm over the weed-strewn Village at Avon all those years, they are like the guy who had been lost at sea and now can’t keep from gobbling everything in sight.

I haven’t seen politicians more eager to employ a loophole in a state constitutional amendment designed to give voters direct control over whether a government goes into long-term debt since the Eagle County commissioners built a new jail with the same suspect move after the voters said “no.” That albatross will hang around for some time, empty and expensive.

But bless them, Avon’s voters seem perfectly fine with it all, judging by whom they elected this time. Three of the four winners view the “certificate of participation” dodge that requires annual renewal as a perfectly legit means of doing business, oblivious to the direct intent of the procedure to duck an otherwise required referendum.

Hey, it’s their town. If they don’t mind councilors who live in other places, the same construction firm amazingly winning all the jobs, secret putsches to remove town managers, and a sudden need to decamp Town Hall immediately, well, that’s their prerogative.

And that’s democracy for you. We tend to get what we deserve. That’s the dark side of choice, and change.

Editor and Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at drogers@vaildaily.com and 970-748-2920.


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