Eagle County voters choose commissioner candidates today
It’s time to thin the herd.There are no primary races for any state offices this year, but there are county races to be finalized today by Democrats and Republicans.The highest-profile races are for county commissioner. Five people – three Republicans and two Democrats – are running to replace Gypsum Republican Tom Stone, who’s leaving office at the end of this year because of term limits.The Republicans are Michael Bair, Hugo Benson and Tom Edwards. The Democrats are Sara Fisher and Mike Lederhause. County Republicans will also decide who will be their party’s fall candidate for Eagle County assessor. Incumbent Joyce Mack – who unseated then-incumbent Jody Caruthers in a primary four years ago – is facing a primary challenge of her own from Ed Smith, a longtime employee in the Assessor’s Office.Here’s a look at who’s running for county commissioner.RepublicansMichael BairAge: 47Residence: BasaltOccupation: GoldsmithBair has leaned heavily on his family roots. His grandfather was the last person from the Roaring Fork Valley to be elected county commissioner, and his family has been in the county more than 100 years.Bair is skeptical about the need for a dedicated property tax that would provide government money for child-care programs. However, he has said he’s dedicated to keeping a vibrant middle class in the county. To do that, he said, the county will need to work on both affordable housing and transportation.Hugo BensonAge: 74Residence: GypsumOccupation: Print shop ownerBenson is a self-avowed conservative and has promised to champion private property rights and provide a balance to current “liberal” commissioners Arn Menconi and Peter Runyon.He’s the only one of the five candidates to oppose the proposed county home-rule charter voters will decide on this fall. That opposition is based on the proposal to make county elections nonpartisan.Benson is opposed to the child-care tax but in favor of building an assisted-living facility for senior citizens as soon as possible.Tom EdwardsAge: 63Residence: GypsumOccupation: Retired architectEdwards is touting his experience in local government and membership on numerous town and county boards and committees. He’s skeptical about the need for a child-care tax.Real cooperation between the county and its towns is crucial for future planning and for trying to preserve as much as possible of a growing county, Edwards said.DemocratsSara FisherAge: 50Residence: GypsumOccupation: ConsultantLike Edwards, Fisher is touting her experience. She says her experience as county clerk and recorder for 10 years, and the countless commissioners’ meetings she’s attended, make her uniquely qualified to be a commissioner. Fisher supports the idea of a property tax to provide government money for daycare and preschool programs. Fisher is a firm believer in long-term planning that involves the county, the state and local towns. That planning will be crucial if Eagle County grows as expected, to an estimated population of 80,000 residents and a workforce of 100,000 by 2025. Mike LederhauseAge: 64Residence: Colorado River RoadOccupation: Retired Colorado State Patrol officerLederhause has lived in Eagle County since 1959. He has made controlling growth a centerpiece of his campaign, but he’s skeptical about the county’s “green” building regulations. He’s also skeptical about the need for a child-care tax and is a strong supporter of an assisted-living center for senior citizens.If elected, Lederhause has said he wants to find a way to make sure county employees can actually live in the county.Lederhause has said his experience in law enforcement, and in building cases based on evidence, will help him make decisions as a county commissioner.
Next Monday, Feb. 13, the council will host a work session on the results of the city’s outreach on the aging New Castle Creek Bridge. Next-step recommendations are expected to be announced at the meeting.