Stone considers congressional bid | AspenTimes.com

Stone considers congressional bid

Edward Stoner
Vail correspondent

Former Eagle County commissioner Tom Stone says he can win an election in a congressional district with a Democratic majority. (Dominique Taylor/Eagle Enterprise file)

Aspen, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY ” Tom Stone, who left his post as an Eagle County commissioner earlier this month after eight years, now says he might run for U.S. Congress in 2008.

Eagle County’s current congressman, Mark Udall, plans to run for Senate.

Stone, a Republican, said he’s waiting to see how the field of candidates shapes up before he decides if he’ll run. In the meantime, he wants to devote attention to his private life, he said.

However, he is more qualified than the people ” all Democrats ” who have already expressed interest in the seat, Stone said.

“I don’t think anyone else there has the record of accomplishment I do in office,” he said.

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The 2nd Congressional District spans from Eagle County on the Western Slope to Weld and Jefferson counties on the Front Range. Democrats outnumber Republicans 143,000 to 123,000 in the district.

“That doesn’t bother me at all,” Stone said. “The best candidate, Republican or Democrat, that the people believe in and trust will always win.”

Stone seems to be the first Republican to indicate interest in Udall’s seat. Several Democrat state leaders have said they are interested.

Stone said he’s uniquely qualified to represent the district because he has close ties to the mountains as well as the Front Range. He grew up in Denver and his wife and children attended the University of Colorado, he said.

And, as a longtime Eagle County resident and county commissioner, he has a connection to the Western Slope that other potential candidates lack, he said.

“Other candidates are disconnected with the mountain communities of the 2nd Congressional District,” he said.

When the 2nd Congressional District was redrawn several years ago, Stone’s wife, Henri, was the Republican Party’s chairwoman for the district. He accompanied his wife to all of the counties in the district to get to know the communities. That gave him good knowledge of the region, he said.

The same issues that are important in Eagle County are important in the district, including growth, housing and forestry, Stone said.

“There’s not anyone out there who has the knowledge and experience in forestry as I do in the district,” he said.

Wayne Allard, one of Colorado’s senators, announced last week that he would retire after his term ends in 2009. Udall says he plans to run for Allard’s seat.

Udall, a Democrat, has represented Eagle County since 2002, when congressional districts were redrawn.

Stone was elected county commissioner in 1998 and was re-elected in 2002.

During his tenure, Stone helped build the Miller Ranch affordable housing and recreation complex in Edwards. He also led efforts to improve the terminal and runway at the Eagle County Regional Airport. In addition, Stone helped create the Eagle County Youth Conservation Corps in 2000.

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