In midvalley, voters to decide on term limits, open space | AspenTimes.com

In midvalley, voters to decide on term limits, open space

Allyn Harvey
Aspen Times Staff Writer

(This is the second of a two-part look at the local issues facing voters in the upcoming election. Yesterday, The Aspen Times published a story about the ballots in the upper valley. Today, the focus is on the lower and midvalley. These stories kick off our coverage of the 2002 election season.)

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the upcoming election in the lower and midvalley is what isn’t on the ballots.

Carbondale voters won’t be asked if they want to pay for improvements and a new bridge on state Highway 133 out of their own pocket. The town trustees decided earlier this month to put that question off for at least a year, after negotiations with a mall developer ground down over who should pay for the highway improvements needed to make the mall viable and rush hour a little easier.

Basalt voters won’t be deciding the fate of their little library in the center of town. The Basalt Regional Library District’s board of directors remains sharply divided about the library’s future and decided to continue working on the issue before going to voters for a tax increase.

And voters in Eagle County, which includes much of Basalt, won’t be re-electing longtime incumbents to four decidedly local elected positions ? sheriff, clerk and recorder, surveyor and coroner ? because term limits are forcing a regime change in all four departments.

But Eagle County voters will be selecting a county commissioner and deciding whether to raise taxes to create a recreation district and protect open space.

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Basalt voters ? in both counties ? are going to decide whether to adopt a new home rule charter, which, if passed, would become the town’s governing document. They’ll also be asked if they want to excuse their elected officials from term limits.

The term limits question also comes up with the Roaring Fork School District board, which affects voters in all three counties that make up the Roaring Fork Valley.

@ATD Sub heds:Eagle County

@ATD body copy: Voters in Eagle County have a lot of homework to do.

They will have to decide among Earlene Roach and Teak Simonton ? both political unknowns ? for clerk and recorder; Deputies Joseph Hoy and Bill Kaufman for sheriff; and Bruce Campbell and Kara Bettis for coroner. Three other elected offices ? surveyor, assessor and treasurer ? have only one candidate to choose from.

For county commissioner, incumbent Republican Tom Stone is seeking re-election against Democrat Gerald Sandburg and unaffiliated candidate Laurie Bower.

Voters will also be asked to decide whether they want to do away with term limits in referendum questions 1A through 1G. Each question is worded exactly the same, except for the office in question. 1A, for instance, asks:

“Shall it be your right, as a voter of Eagle County, to elect candidates of your choice to the office of County Assessor, without limit to the number of terms they can serve as long as the voters of Eagle County choose?”

The question is repeated for every other elected office, including county commissioner.

This is the second time Eagle County voters have been asked to consider lifting the term limits mandated in the state constitution. In 1998, they voted no on a single question that would have eliminated limits for every elected office in the county.

Voters throughout Eagle County will be asked if they want to pay for open space preservation with a new property tax of up to $7 million a year until 2025; the tax rate would not exceed 1.5 mills.

And voters in the portion of Eagle County that lies in the Roaring Fork Valley will be asked if they want to raise their property taxes still further to create the Crown Mountain Recreation District. If authorized, the district would collect a 1 mill levy. An elected board of directors would be in charge of spending the money on recreation programs. The tax question is written to get around the state constitution’s requirement that property tax rates (the mill levy) be lowered as property values go up.

[Allyn Harvey’s e-mail address is aharvey@aspentimes.com]