Reformers take party out of county politics
EAGLE – The Eagle County Home Rule Charter Commission is now down to the nuts and bolts of its work drafting a new governing document, known as a charter, for the county.The elected group is recommending that the board of county commissioners should increase in size from three to five members. Voters may be asked later this year to vote on the plan.The proposed five-person board would be elected much as the current three-person board is, with candidates residing within specific geographical districts but elected at-large by the entire county electorate.The new charter will also attempt to take the “party” out of local politics. Candidates for commissioners’ seats and all other offices will run without party affiliation. If there are more than two candidates for any office, there will be a primary election to winnow the field down to just a pair for the November election. That means two Democrats or two Republicans could face off for the same job in the November election.The home rule commission is currenlty recommending that all of the county’s elected jobs will remain that way, although they may call for the county surveyor to be appointed rather than elected.The trick now is to figure out just how to split up the commission districts to ensure Basalt and El Jebel get their own county commissioner. The problem is numbers, and where those numbers are.In creating five commissioner districts, all those districts must be as close as possible to equal in size, each containing about 20 percent of the county’s people. But the Basalt-El Jebel area has a little less than 20 percent of the county’s population now. The bulk of the county’s residents live between Edwards and Eagle-Vail, and those areas are growing faster than the Roaring Fork Valley.While state law allows some leeway in the population of districts, at some point, the commission may have to break down census information to its smallest fractions to find a way to divide the county.”We’re headed in the right direction. And, I think, if this doesn’t pass, nothing ever will, and we’ll know we tried” Commission Chairman Don Cohen said.
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