Vote YES for Eagle County home rule |

Vote YES for Eagle County home rule

Eagle County residents have another opportunity this month to approve a proposed switch to a home rule style of government. The idea failed at the polls last year, but proponents are giving it another shot. We think voters should, too.A switch to home rule would free Eagle County from various state-imposed restrictions, such as the prohibition against voters taking a direct role in their local government through the referendum or initiative processes.But the most important reason for Eagle County residents in the Roaring Fork Valley is that the board of commissioners would expand, like that of Pitkin County, to five members. Each commissioner would represent a specific geographical district; just as Dorothea Farris represents western Pitkin County and Michael Owsley represents Woody Creek, so would someone on the Eagle board represent the Roaring Fork portion of that county (which includes parts of Basalt and El Jebel, and much of Missouri Heights).This is a good idea because Eagle County residents on this side of the hill have always had to trust the three Eagle commissioners to do the right thing for them. A permanent Roaring Fork voice on the board would provide a direct conduit to the decision-making body and go a long way toward establishing trust over here. Furthermore, five heads are better than three, and it behooves a growing mountain county with increasingly complex issues to have a stronger and more diverse governing board.This does not necessarily mean the Roaring Fork Valley will always be represented by someone living in the valley itself, because the population here may be too low to justify a district limited to this side of Cottonwood Pass. Even so, if a commissioner happens to live just on the other side of the pass, he or she is likely to have a better understanding of Roaring Fork Valley issues than someone living in, say, Eagle or Burns.Opponents of home rule have depicted this proposal as a switch to big government and higher taxes, but these are really just scare tactics. The truth is that home rule, by lifting various state strictures, would enable Eagle County citizens and elected officials to shape their local government to their own liking; home rule also will facilitate better representation and better communication between citizens and their elected decision-makers.This is a mail-only election and ballots must received at the Eagle County Clerk’s office by May 1. Unfortunately, numerous Eagle residents say they have not received their ballots in the mail. If you fall into this category, call (800) 225-6136, ext. 8726, to have a replacement ballot mailed.

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