Menconi, Runyon bring change to Eagle County
The complexion of the Eagle Board of County Commissioners changed drastically yesterday when voters added growth-control advocate Peter Runyon and re-elected Arn Menconi.
Both Democrats won by comfortable margins. Menconi had 7,982 votes to 6,785 for Republican A.J. Johnson and 2,606 for independent candidate Albert “Buz” Reynolds in the district two race. Menconi received 46 percent of the vote compared to 39 percent for Johnson and 15 percent for Reynolds.
“I feel good. It’s a lot better than 39 votes,” said Menconi, referring to his margin of victory four years ago.
Menconi said he believes he successfully showed voters he worked well over the last four years with numerous constituencies.
Menconi often found himself on the short end of votes and at philosophical odds with Commissioner Tom Stone, who has two years remaining in office, and Commissioner Michael Gallagher, who didn’t seek re-election.
Gallagher, a Democrat often aligned with Republican Stone, will be replaced by Runyon, whose campaign centered on getting a better grip on growth. Runyon said he will create a blue ribbon bipartisan commission to set guidelines “that will more strictly control growth in the county.”
Runyon acknowledged during the campaign that a candidate with his views couldn’t have been elected in Eagle County a decade ago. He said people are ready to control growth without wrecking the resort economy.
Runyon defeated Republican Richard DeClark 9,204 votes to 7,706 or a margin of 54 to 46 percent. Runyon couldn’t be reached for comment last night.
While Menconi hasn’t been as strongly in favor of growth control as Runyon, he was a big proponent of the Eagle County open space program. Menconi said Tuesday’s outcome “was a vote for the environment.”
He also noted with surprise that Sen. John Kerry and several other Democrats in state and national offices won in Eagle County, ending Republican dominance. “This is such a change from the last time,” he said, referring to the 2000 election.
The election of Menconi and Runyon could also result in increased representation for county residents. Runyon made expansion of the board from three to five members a key stance in his campaign. He said that would give the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County its own seat on the commission.
Menconi said he also supports sending the issue to voters.
Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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