Friction peaks between candidates at Frisco forum |

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Friction peaks between candidates at Frisco forum

Summit Daily/Caddie Nath

FRISCO – It’s crunch time for the candidates gunning for offices representing Summit County.

With mail ballots set to go out Monday and early voting starting just a week after that, the gloves are coming off in local and regional races.

Contenders for seats from the board of county commissioners to the state Senate spent Monday’s candidate forum in Frisco calling one another’s bluffs as tension peaked in almost every race.

During the three-hour event, hopefuls frequently put the question at hand on hold to respond to previous accusations, called out their opponents and unapologetically talked over their time limits in an effort to finish the point at hand.

The forum ran more than half an hour late.

“I’m filibustering,” state House District 61 candidate Debra Irvine joked as the buzzer marking her time limit sounded and she remained at the podium.

Republican contender for state Senate District 8 Randy Baumgardner was given the legislator of the year award as he claimed, Democratic challenger Emily Tracy informed the crowd at another point in the evening, but he was one of 10 lawmakers selected for the recognition by the Colorado Economic Development Council.

Baumgardner followed up multiple statements about the importance of bipartisanship with an accusation that the democratically controlled Senate killed a rainy-day fund bill he had supported during a previous stint in the state House of Representatives.

Even the hotly contested, but thus-far-polite state House District 61 race began to fracture Monday as independent Kathleen Curry revised her closing statements to respond to a negative radio and mailer campaign attacking her healthcare record.

The ads accuse Curry of writing a bill to let insurers deny care for mammograms. Curry vehemently denied the claim, saying it was particularly offensive because her mother is a breast cancer survivor.

“That is why I’m an independent,” Curry told the crowd at Monday’s forum. “That is why I’m not a member of the Democratic Party.”

Millie Hamner, the Democrat running for the same seat, held she’s run a clean campaign and the mailers did not come from her or the Democrats.

The race for the Summit Board of County Commissioners remained heated as Republican challenger Kevin Mastin questioned his incumbent opponent Karn Stiegelmeier’s recent decisions, including approval of a proposal to relocate the south branch of the county library to a historic building owned by the town of Breckenridge. Rather than constructing a new library building, the county is splitting the bill with Breckenridge to renovate the old one.

“I really think that our commissioners got out-negotiated by some very smart businessmen with the town of Breckenridge,” Mastin said. “I do feel that the county should have stayed on budget, they should have built the project on land that they owned.”

Stiegelmeier defended the board’s library decision, calling the early 20th-century building that will house the library an “amazing historic icon.”

Among the issues that were discussed, the state’s Swiss-cheese budget and forest health remained hot topics of debate across the board.

The forum was hosted by Summit Association of Realtors, the Summit County Builders Association and the Summit Daily News.