Dems throw support behind Commissioner Gary Lindstrom
FRISCO – As expected, the Summit County Democrats Wednesday night gave their endorsement to Gary Lindstrom – who is unaffiliated – in his bid for re-election to the Board of County Commissioners.
The Summit County Republicans endorsed Lindstrom at a meeting earlier this week. Lindstrom will run against Green Party candidate Justin McCarthy in the November election.
Democratic chair George Sherman said he initially wasn’t pleased to hear Lindstrom had secured the Republican endorsement. But after discussing it with fellow Democrats, Sherman said he again felt comfortable in throwing his support behind Lindstrom.
“I think they acted with the knowledge that Gary was going to come to us tonight,” he said. “But, I, too, endorse Gary. His record shows he’s earned a second term. And he stands for the same things we stand for.”
Lindstrom outlined his experience and views during the meeting at the Community Center in Frisco, but the bulk of discussion centered around affordable housing and how to fund it. Gordon Ferris, executive director for the Summit Housing Authority, recently proposed a .15 percent sales tax hike to fund affordable housing projects. But without support from the towns – Frisco is vehemently opposed to it and Breckenridge and Frisco are on the fence, Lindstrom said – he isn’t comfortable putting the issue on the ballot.
“It’d be a guaranteed loser,” Lindstrom said. “People are telling me they feel like they’re being taxed to death. I’d hate to take something to the voters and then have to explain it to them. I don’t think it’ll work out. But I think this will motivate Gordon (Ferris) to think about things a little differently.”
New legislation allows multijurisdictional organizations to request voters to approve taxes for affordable housing. Taxes permitted include a sales tax, mill levy increase or an impact fee to make new development pay its way. Real estate and building industry lobbyists were able to get the impact fee option modified so any impact fee could be implemented only in conjunction with a sales tax or mill levy increase.
County Commissioner and Democrat Bill Wallace – who also threw his support behind Lindstrom – said a property tax wasn’t even considered because of likely voter backlash. Property owners in Summit County recently approved a $10 million school district mill levy hike and those in the Lower Blue OK’d a tax increase for fire protection.
Lindstrom favors the impact fee. The new legislation would allow impact fees of up to $2 a square foot, but fees of 25 cents per square foot are more the norm.
“We ought to have impact fees on all new construction over $500,000,” Lindstrom said. “I think people with $500,000 homes can afford it.”
There are political ramifications, however.
“Realtors told Gordon they’d campaign against him (Ferris) and fry him if there was an impact fee,” Wallace said. “Since then, they’ve backed off. They think a 25-cent fee wouldn’t be too onerous.”
Wallace said county commissioners don’t always agree on issues.
“But Gary is that balance,” he said. “If we lost that balance, it would be detrimental to the citizens of Summit County.”
Jane Stebbins can be reached
at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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