Secessionists finally ready to stop talking, start acting
After more than a year of debate, the group contemplating secession from Eagle County to join Pitkin County is getting ready to act.
The Mid Valley Caucus had its petition approved by the Eagle County Clerk last week and hopes to start collecting signatures within the next month, according to chairman P.J. Jaycox.
The group needs to collect about 550 signatures – 50 percent of all people in the targeted area who are registered voters and property owners, Jaycox said.
The caucus wants to remove the entire sliver of Eagle County that’s located in the Roaring Fork drainage from the county. Jaycox and other leaders contend the county government based 55-plus miles away in Eagle is too distant physically and a world apart philosophically from the constituents in this valley.
The caucus claimed earlier this winter that its survey showed the majority of affected residents want to consider secession from Eagle County and joining Pitkin County.
Eagle County hired a polling firm last fall and claimed its survey showed most respondents were content with existing conditions.
This year may finally bring resolution to the debate. Jaycox said the caucus intends to host a meeting in early April for anyone interested in circulating a petition. Once they believe they are organized well enough, they will launch the signature drive. They don’t want to rush into anything, he said.
“Just because we’re chomping at the bit, we’re not going to rush out haffrrrrsed,” he said, providing the spelling for his own adverb.
The goal is to collect enough signatures to get a secession question placed on the November general election ballot. To do so, the petition would have to be found sufficient at least 60 days before the election, meaning early September.
If enough signatures are gained, the question would go on both the Eagle and Pitkin county ballots. The move would have to be approved by the majority of voters in both counties to take effect.
Jaycox said he didn’t believe the turmoil surrounding Pitkin County government and the recall attempt launched against Commissioner Mick Ireland will affect midvalley residents’ opinions.
When asked about the turmoil, he said, “Does that make today any different than the last 10 years? Pitkin County politics is always contentious.”
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