Eagle Board of County Commissioners
Eagle County’s three-person board of county commissioners will have at least one new face and possibly two when the votes are tallied Nov. 2.Incumbent Michael Gallagher is stepping down due to health problems after serving one four-year term. Gallagher was a conservative Democrat who, more often then not, teamed with Republican Tom Stone on commissioner votes.Running to replace Gallagher in commissioner District 1 are two political novices – Democrat Peter Runyon and Republican Richard DeClark.In the other contested race, incumbent Democrat Arn Menconi is trying to stave off challenges by Republican A.J. Johnson and independent Albert “Buz” Reynolds for the District 2 seat.None of the candidates are from the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County.DeClark vs. RunyonRunyon and DeClark have clearly defined how they would concentrate on different priorities. DeClark would concentrate on social issues; Runyon would concentrate on land use.DeClark wants to provide more child care and recreational opportunities for kids. He also wants the county to help provide an assisted-living facility for seniors and disabled residents.”Using public-private partnership, free-market incentives and tax relief we can move these projects from concept to reality,” DeClark emphasized in campaign literature.DeClark, 47, develops flavors for the food and beverage industry. He helped run a family business of that type starting at age 12; the company grew from three employees to 350 when Richard and his brother sold it after about 20 years.Runyon has emphasized greater representation for Eagle County residents and better land-use planning. He wants to expand the board to five members and divide the county into five districts, with each selecting just its representative. He claimed that would assure the Roaring Fork Valley greater representation on the board.Runyon’s other focus is on limiting growth, and he’s gambling that most other Eagle County residents want it restricted as well.”As commissioner I will create a blue ribbon, bipartisan commission to establish a set of guidelines that will more strictly control growth in the county,” Runyon’s campaign literature stated. “These guidelines will then be put before the voters for approval.”Runyon, 59, is a photographer who runs two small businesses.Menconi vs. Johnson vs. ReynoldsMenconi is campaigning on his record, contending he deserves another four years in office due to effective leadership. As examples he pointed to his opposition last November to Referendum A, a water development plan backed by Colo. Gov. Bill Owens but opposed throughout the state. He also supported Eagle County’s purchase of the 4,800-acre Bair Ranch in Glenwood Canyon for open space and the county’s $750,000 investment in infrastructure and recreational amenities at the old Mount Sopris Tree Farm, also known as Crown Mountain Park, in El Jebel.Menconi, 45, is the founder and executive director of the Snowboard Outreach Society, which brings underprivileged and at-risk youth to the slopes at western ski resorts.Menconi is facing challenges from two political veterans. Johnson served five terms as Eagle County sheriff before being forced out by term limits two years ago.His platform centers on greater representation of residents. Johnson said he would establish a community council of 12-or-so citizens that would meet periodically with the commissioners in a meeting run by a professional facilitator. That council would help set the agenda for the government and review “if the county was going in the right direction.”Johnson questioned whether the county commissioners are currently doing enough to stay in touch with residents and work effectively with town governments and special districts within Eagle County.Johnson, 58, is the western sales manager for a telecommunications firm.Reynolds brings to the campaign his political skills as the mayor of Avon. He was elected to the Avon Town Council in 1996 and was selected by that board to be mayor in 2002.Reynolds is a strong advocate of five county commissioners for greater representation. Like Runyon, he claimed that would give Roaring Fork Valley residents greater say in county affairs.Reynolds, 52, is a contractor and developer, but his positions on growth cannot be pigeonholed. He doesn’t want to see additional lanes of asphalt added to Interstate 70 between Denver and the mountains. He said alternative transportation, such as a train, is the answer.Reynolds also said he wants water rights to dictate growth – only developments with ironclad rights should be allowed to build.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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Mario Ruiz came to Aspen Highlands from Bariloche through the ski patrol exchange as part of the Sister Cities program last winter. He quickly ingrained himself with the Highlands patrol. Ruiz was killed July 27 in an avalanche while working at his home ski area. The Highlands patrol is raising funds for his family.