Eagle voters to weigh home rule, smoking ban
October 13, 2005
Eagle County voters will be asked Nov. 1 whether they wish to switch to a home-rule style of local government, a move that many claim will give the Roaring Fork Valley a greater voice in Eagle County affairs.Though the Eagle County seat and most of the county’s population are in the Eagle Valley along Interstate 70, the county’s southwest corner reaches over a mountain ridge and into the Roaring Fork Valley. El Jebel and parts of Missouri Heights and Basalt are included in Eagle County. People on the Roaring Fork side, however, have long felt like forgotten stepchildren in the eyes of the Eagle County commissioners.
On Nov. 1, voters will be asked whether they want to explore the idea of home rule, which would give Eagle County more leeway in the way it operates. One of the biggest changes under consideration would increase the number of commissioners on the county’s governing board from three to five – which would practically guarantee the Roaring Fork Valley a seat on the board. “Western Eagle County,” as the Roaring Fork piece is known, would become one of five new geographic districts.But the five-member board of commissioners is only one aspect of home rule, and this isn’t a simple yes-or-no vote.Voters will be asked if the home-rule idea should be pursued, with expenses covered by the county’s general fund. Voters will also be asked to select 11 members of a home-rule “charter commission” from a list of 21 candidates. If the home-rule idea wins endorsement, then the commission would draft a proposed home rule charter, which would be presented to voters at a later date.
Voters will select three of five candidates for the charter commission from District 1; three of six candidates from District 2; three of six from District 3, which includes the Roaring Fork Valley; and two of four at-large candidates.Four candidates are running from the Roaring Fork Valley: Michael Bair, Harvie Branscomb, Robert Schultz and Jacque Whitsitt.
Besides the home-rule question, Eagle County residents will also be asked if they want to prohibit smoking in all public places, including restaurants and bars. It’s only an advisory vote.Commissioner Arn Menconi pushed to get the smoking question on the ballot. He hopes towns in Eagle County, such as Basalt, will look at the results from their areas and determine if they should enact a smoking ban.