Eagle County voters go with experience

Vail Daily staff
CVR Sara Fisher SM 8-8-06

GYPSUM – One down, one to go.Democratic candidate for Eagle County commissioner Sara Fisher cleared her first hurdle Tuesday winning in a landslide against Democratic challenger Mike Lederhause. Now she’ll go up against Republican Tom Edwards and independent candidate Roger Brown to replace Republican Tom Stone, who is being forced out by term limits. Edwards earned a spot on the November ballot by winning Tuesday’s Republican primary, defeating Michael Bair of Basalt and fellow Gypsum resident Hugo Benson.Voters didn’t turn up in droves, but enough showed up to allow Fisher a healthy win. She collected 513 votes, while retired police officer Lederhause received 170. “I feel very complimented that the folks got out and voted and that they saw it in my favor,” Fisher said. “I felt fairly confident because of the feedback around the county. My biggest concern was that people wouldn’t turn out.”Bair said the campaign had taken its toll on him.”I put my business on hold the last two months, but that’s all right,” Bair said. But, he added, he was disappointed in the turnout from Basalt.”Of the 309 votes I got, 38 came from Basalt,” he said.Asked if he would support Edwards in the fall campaign, Bair didn’t hesitate.”Oh yes,” he said.In his campaign Edwards leaned heavily on his experience, both on the Gypsum Town Council and several volunteer county boards. Edwards said his mood about his prospects varied throughout the day. “Some hours, I was comfortable with how things went, and some I wondered. I’m just pleased to have come out on top.”

This will be the third straight time a three-way race will decide the commissioner’s seat. Stone, who is nearing the end of his second term, won in three-way races both times.Asked for the key to winning a three-way campaign, Stone said the answer is fairly simple. “You have to represent the majority of people, and don’t represent either of the extremes,” Stone said. As an Eagle County resident of nearly 30 years and a woman, Fisher thinks she will bring a unique, empathetic perspective to the Board of County Commissioners. “I have a real and incredible passion for Eagle County,” Fisher said. “I moved here when I was 21. I’m part of the working class. I came as a seasonal employee and worked my way into better positions. I’ve experienced almost every lifestyle, and I can help people realize the American dream.”Fisher said her Spanish-speaking abilities and time spent living among other cultures helps her understand the county’s Hispanic population. “We don’t want to overlook any of the people who make this place a great place to live,” said the Gypsum resident. Though an entirely Democratic Board of County Commissioners may not sit well with some – Arn Menconi and Peter Runyon are also Democrats – Fisher believes party affiliation is inconsequential.”I don’t think that partisan politics plays a very important role in the county level,” she said. “It gets in the way of good business. I’m a former Republican. I grew up in Republican household, and I think I’m a nice solid middle ground.”Incumbent assessor oustedRepublicans decisively chose Ed Smith over his boss, Joyce Mack, as their nominee for Eagle county assessor Tuesday.”I’d like to say that I ran on my experience and my knowledge of the system and how it operates,” Smith said.Smith got 808 votes, or 69 percent of the vote. Embattled incumbent Mack, who faced opposition from within her own office, received 31 percent of the vote.”I ran a positive race, and I respect the decision of the voters,” Mack said.Smith will face Democrat Mark Chapin in November’s election. Chapin was unopposed on the Democratic ticket Tuesday. He is a former deputy assessor for the county.