Vail Daily column: Up and down the Republican ticket
November 3, 2016
Enough has been said about the top of the ticket. What affects most of us on a daily basis is the outcome of the local races and the local ballot questions. So here goes.
Let's start with the only Republican incumbent running, Mari Renzelman for treasurer. This is actually a no-brainer. Mari has worked in the Treasurer's Office for 16 years and was groomed by former Treasurer Karen Sheaffer to take her place. When Karen retired early at the end of 2015, Mari was appointed to succeed her. That kind of experience is invaluable, and apparently the county commissioners agreed.
Something really important to keep in mind is that she was appointed by a unanimous decision of three Democrat commissioners. They could have chosen anyone, but they took the unusual step of crossing party lines to appoint the most qualified candidate.
And there's one touchy question that has not been addressed by anyone. Given the publicly acknowledged fact that her opponent had a sizeable embezzlement in the department she currently manages — one that took place over five years — I'll pose the question that seems obvious to me: why would we put someone in charge of managing a $283 million budget when they couldn't keep track of $124,000?
Now for our county commissioner races. These seem like no-brainers to me, also realizing I'm a bit biased.
It would be almost impossible to come up with a better prepared candidate than Rick Beveridge. He has solid experience with so many organizations in the valley that it's hard to come up with some area he hasn't touched.
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He's been involved with recreation on the WECMRD board for 12 years. He's been part of the cultural scene as a director of corporate sales for the Vail Valley Foundation. He was part of a partnership that built employee housing. He's raised millions of dollars including for the above and hockey. He married and raised a family here and has been actively involved in his kids' education and coaching. He owns his own business. And it goes on.
But he hasn't yet served as county commissioner — and we want to hold that against him? Really? For me, that's the good news. It's definitely a "yes" for Rick Beveridge.
Then we move to Michael Dunahay. What a refreshing bright light he is. When we were having trouble finding a candidate for this seat, I put an ad in the paper and Michael answered out of curiosity. He thought we were talking about a volunteer job and he was ready to give back to the community he loves.
I'll give you this much, he's unusual. But does that mean he's not qualified? Far from it. In fact, he's exactly what we need. His enormous business experience, including a lot of ups and downs, gives him the solid, no-nonsense approach to decision-making that this county needs right now.
The current commissioners seem incapable of saying "no" to any request for funding. This can't go on. An economic correction is almost certainly due in the near future and there's no indication that we're prepared or are even preparing for it. The rate at which we're spending money, actually more than we're taking in, does not bode well when things start on a downward trend.
We need someone who understands business and the economy; someone who sees the big picture; someone who believes that government is not the only solution to problems.
And that's Michael Dunahay.
I think an interesting issue on the table right now is that the current commissioners are interested in funding issues regarding children on several levels but they weren't comfortable with asking for a tax increase to support them. Instead they've asked various departments to find ways to cut $2 million from their budgets as a way to come up with the necessary funds.
Hold on a minute. If there is $2 million dollars floating around out there, capable of being cut and transferred, then what does that say about the county budget to begin with?
No folks — we need a change and we need it now.
As for the ballot questions, here are our suggestions.
1A deals with the ever-important need for affordable housing. The question is always the same: whose job is it to provide it? The answer is everyone's. This "ask" is assuming it's government's job. But even giving that government has a role, how can we be asked to take on a huge liability with no specifics? With all the requests the taxpayer is asked to fund, there should always be the bottom line of specifics. Tell us exactly how you intend to spend the money and we'll consider it. 1A doesn't give us enough information to warrant this tax increase. Come back when you get it right.
1B is an example of the bureaucracy using convoluted tactics to increase revenues. The open space tax was intended to be used to buy open space. And even many of those purchases have been questionable. But this? If we think we need money for completion of a bike trail, ask for it. But going about it this way is changing the very definition of what was originally approved hoping we'll all bite because we all love open space. No. Get it right and then come back, but don't bastardize the original intent.
3A and 3B. Let's make it clear up front. We all agree that educating kids should be a priority. But when we're being asked to approve the largest single tax increase in the history of Eagle County, we need to know exactly where that money will go.
When we're being asked to approve such vague language as the money "will be used for such things as," my confidence level isn't inspired. We're also being asked to fund things that aren't necessary. Class size in Eagle County is already lower and the performance rate higher than the state average. Eagle County teachers are in the top 12 percent of the highest-paid teachers in the state.
Turnover rate for teachers in Eagle County is 12.28 percent while the state rate is 17.02 percent.
Also, the $144 million being requested has a payback of $233 million.
Until we get specifics, taking on this huge liability based on what we've been given is also huge — a huge mistake.
There was an old — and I mean old — TV detective who used the expression "just the facts, ma'am." That's all we're asking for so we can make an informed decision. This much money shouldn't be approved on an act of faith.
There you have it. Agree or not, that's not important. The single most important thing you have to do before Nov. 8 is vote.
Kaye Ferry is the chairwoman of the Eagle County Republicans.
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