The mayor of Avon speaks | AspenTimes.com
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The mayor of Avon speaks

Dear Editor:

Eagle County is a small governmental jurisdiction and the citizens and towns work very closely with the commissioners and county staff. We get to know each other “up close and personal.” This is definitely a race in which we all should vote for the person and not their party. My support and recommendation go strongly to Peter Runyon. I am a registered Republican, moderate, have worked with Peter and have definitely concluded that he, a “Dem,” is the best person for the job and should be re-elected.

Peter Runyon has been an excellent county commissioner during the last four years. I credit him with bringing the towns and the county together into cooperation and trust. Peter is committed to preserving the character of our community and to tackling the critical economic issue of housing affordability. He created the countywide team to understand and promote the creation of housing products so that a spectrum of people can live in this wonderful region. He has represented our county in the pursuit of funding at the state and national level to fight the pine bark beetle. He is a champion of protecting the quality of our water assets, open space for parks and of solving our transportation challenges. He is intelligent, balanced and committed to keeping the county focused on real issues.

His opponent is incorrect in his assertions that the commissioners have made spending decisions without concern for the public and for collecting too much tax revenue. Dick Gustafson raised the mill levy, collected huge increases in tax revenues and disregarded the will of the people. Voters were asked for money to expand the justice center; they said “no.” Gustafson decided to go ahead anyway, funding the expansion out of sales tax revenue. He planned to put aside $400,000 each year to fund the project. When it was time to build … oops, the money wasn’t there. Much of it had been diverted and spent on other projects! The expansion was funded because we couldn’t function well without doing it … just like today.

Then there’s the county office building … built without competitive bidding, with the custom brick bas relief eagle and mahogany trim and doors. Hardly a process and expenditure Gustafson says he believes in! He approved Cordillera and Arrowhead as free-market projects without any obligation to offset the affordable housing burden they created. Free-market developers produced zero affordable housing.

Annual audit reports during Gustafson’s tenure include overspending in various accounts, improper expense reports, failure to file required government reports, internal control problems and contractors violating minimum wage standards.

I guess kids were more important back then. Gustafson used sales tax revenue to establish Echo Ranch, a group home for kids since morphed into the Women’s Resource Center. Today he calls this kind of expenditure a non-essential expense.

Does this all mean that as long as it’s Gustafson’s idea it is a good idea? Or is he being hypocritical and pandering to the electorate? I know the answer and that is part of the reason I’m voting for Peter Runyon. So should all voters who care about the environment, our community and good government.

Ron Wolfe

Mayor, Avon


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