Vail Daily Editorial: Have you voted?
November 1, 2016
Most of us will have already cast ballots by the time Nov. 8, Election Day, blessedly rolls around.
If you haven't voted yet, here's a quick review of the Vail Daily's endorsements this season, with a bit of preface about why we endorse candidates and issues.
The Vail Daily focuses on local candidates and issues. Most of the time, the people at the paper don't know any more about candidates for state and national offices than our readers. An endorsement from this newspaper can't really add anything to what an informed reader already knows.
And that's the point of Vail Daily endorsements. Most readers can't sit down for an hour for a one-on-one conversation with a candidate or issue committee. Most readers don't go to all the candidate forums and other events.
The point of our endorsements is to provide information, mixed with the opinions of our small editorial board. Vail Daily endorsements are our advice, of course, but in no way are intended as definitive statements. Any publication with an endorsement record as mixed as ours had better be humble.
With that as prologue, here's a review of the candidates and issues we've endorsed this fall.
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• Eagle County Commissioner, District 1: We favored Jill Ryan over challenger Michael Dunahay, preferring, Ryan's experience to Dunahay's self-professed lack of knowledge about how local government works.
• Eagle County Commissioner, District 2: Another incumbent, Kathy Chandler-Henry, gets the nod here, but only by a small margin. Challenger Rick Beveridge would be a very good commissioner, and we wish he wasn't running against a proven, effective incumbent.
• Fifth Judicial District Attorney: In this three-way race, we favored Republican challenger Bruce Carey over incumbent Bruce Brown, a Democrat and independent candidate Sanam Mehrnia. Our belief is that Carey's experience as a prosecutor and defense attorney in the four-county Fifth Judicial District, as well as his pledges to make the District Attorney's Office more effective and people friendly, would bring needed change to this post.
• State Representative: Colorado House District 26 — which covers all of Routt and Eagle counties — is well served by two-term incumbent Diane Mitsch Bush, a Steamboat Springs Democrat. Republican challenger Michael Cacioppo of Eagle County simply can't match Mitsch Bush's knowledge of the district, especially regarding the intricacies of state water law. That knowledge is crucial for anyone who wants to represent two headwaters counties in the Front Range-dominated Colorado Legislature.
• Eagle County Treasurer: We favored experience here, preferring incumbent Treasurer Mari Renzelman. Renzelman, a longtime employee and deputy treasurer, was appointed to the treasurer's job early this year after the retirement of longtime Treasurer Karen Sheaffer.
Longtime Eagle County Clerk and Recorder Teak Simonton — who's very good at her current job — is also running for the position.
Here's another case where experience won out.
• Eagle County Ballot Issue 1A: This would be a .3 percent sales tax increase that would generate about $5 million per year to help fund workforce housing. There's a great need for housing in the valley right now — the crunch is as bad as it's ever been — but this plan isn't yet well-enough developed to create a new, expensive bureaucracy.
• Eagle County Ballot Issue 1B: This measure would add another 15 years to the life of the county's existing open space tax, passed in 2002. This proposal would alter the way open space funds can be spent, and would allow the county to issue bond debt to finish the Eagle Valley Trail. While finishing the trail in seven years is a fine idea, that project doesn't rise to the level of urgency governments should consider before going into long-term debt.
• Eagle County Ballot Issues 3A and 3B: This is the most expensive proposal facing local voters. Eagle County Schools has proposed a pair of property tax increases to fund a package that will increase teacher pay, fund the purchase of new educational materials and, perhaps most important, allow the district to address a multi-million-dollar backlog of maintenance built up due to budget cuts over the past several years. The building measure would also fund much-needed renovations at some of the district's older school buildings.
These proposals, while pricey, carry the level of detail voters should demand from any request to raise taxes. That detailed explanation earned an endorsement from our editorial board.
Finally: We all know how contentious our state and national campaigns have been this year. Some of that snarkiness has oozed into local campaigns, too.
Please, let's all remember that we all live in this valley for mostly the same reasons. Let's go back to being neighbors, not political adversaries — at least until the next election season comes.
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