Robo-calls duel in home rule race
Aspen, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY ” With just one week left until the election for Eagle County home rule, both sides of the issue are stepping up efforts to get voters on their side.
Campaign signs for and against the proposed government reform have been popping up across both the Eagle Valley and the mid-Roaring Fork Valley, and now automated phone calls are going out to registered voters. The mail-in ballots for the election are due May 1.
“My husband got a call for home rule and he was cracking up,” said West Vail resident Cheri Thompson. “He said it was such a waste of time and money because people don’t care about home rule, and those who do have already made up their minds. This isn’t a presidential election.”
About 7,000 Eagle Valley individuals were put on a list of active voters who will receive an automated voice message asking voters to vote for home rule, said Don Cohen, Home Rule Charter Commission member. An additional 1,077 voters in the Roaring Fork Valley will also receive a call. In fact, voters in the Roaring Fork corner of Eagle County, in Basalt and El Jebel, have been inundated with the calls.
“It’s a quick and surprisingly simple way to get the message out,” Cohen said. “Yes, the robo-calls may be annoying, but they work and at least they’re short.”
Even those who are on the statewide no-call list for solicitors are subject to getting a call, Cohen said.
Nonprofit and political organizations are exempt from the law, he said.
The Eagle County Republicans also did an automated call campaign to all active Republican voters asking them to turn down home rule, said Randy Milhoan, chairman of the Eagle County Republicans.
“We have a message on the Internet, sent some brochures and made the calls,” Milhoan said. “It’s not been a real active campaign. It’s hard for both sides because there’s no election day to work towards. To know who and when to call can be difficult.”
Home rule supporters have bought radio ad time, newspaper ads, sent e-mails, called voters and put up signs, Cohen said.
“Either way the vote turns out, it’s been great because the information is out there,” Cohen said. “If it’s still a no vote then we’re satisfied that the public got to learn about it, think about it and vote on it.”
While the Republicans have been outspoken on the issue, the Eagle County Democrats have chose not to campaign either for or against it, said New New Wallace, co-chair of the Eagle County Democrats.
“We try not to take an official, all-inclusive position on anything with the exception of the war in Iraq,” Wallace said. “We have diversity on this issue within the Democratic party. Some are for it, and some against. I even know more Republicans who are for it than against it.”
As time dwindles for campaigning before the May 1 election deadline, both sides of the issue say they will continue their efforts to persuade voters.
Some say it’s gone too far already.
“I don’t see what the big deal is,” said Greg Welsh. “I am just glad the taxpayers aren’t funding most of the campaign stuff. People are getting crazy over it, and I think most of the county could really care less if it passes. We just want it over with.”
Others are crying foul over the campaign, saying proponents have stepped over the ethical line. An e-mail obtained by the Vail Daily from proponents of home rule asks other supporters to “allow us to send a letter to the editor using your name.”
It’s an unethical request and a sign of desperation, said Tom Stone, former county commissioner and opponent of home rule.
“If people want to send in letters they should, but to just sign someone else’s name is over the top,” Stone said. “It is OK to give people talking points about what to cover in their letter, but to just write it? What a turn of events.”
Pass or fail, Wallace said it will not be the end of the world.
“The county will go on either way,” Wallace said. “I think people will be more turned off by aggressive campaigning than anything.”
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