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French wins commission seat

KIM MARQUIS
Summit Daily/Reid Williams Newly appointed Democratic Summit County Commissioner Bob French thanks the delegates gathered at the Senior and Community Center in Frisco Wednesday night after extolling the possibilities for the party in coming local, state and national November elections.
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FRISCO – In a single round of voting, Summit County Democrats chose Breckenridge attorney Bob French as Summit County’s newest county commissioner.The Democrats tabbed French because he is electable in November, said former party chairwoman Sandy Greenhut. That opinion was echoed by Leigh Girvin, who competed against French, and Barb Crandall, a candidate in the Democratic commissioners Aug. 10 primary against incumbent Bill Wallace.French will serve four months and possibly gain an advantage over a Republican candidate for the District 1 county commissioner seat in the Nov. 2 general elections.The winner will serve a two-year term.French, a 32-year Breckenridge resident, offered the briefest answers during a candidate forum Monday when six people tried to show they were the best qualified.He said Wednesday he is reluctant to give his position on issues before educating himself, for concern of having those statements used against him in future decisions as county commissioner.

“Snapping off answers to questions … may not be the best thing for a candidate to do,” he said.Voting was done Wednesday by secret ballot. Also running were Linda Bateman, Travis Bennett, Michael Bertaux, Ruth Hertzberg and Girvin.French’s appointment is suggestive of the local party’s strategy to choose electable candidates with an eye on November.During the party’s caucus in April, U.S. Senate candidate Mike Mills received wide support during informal roundtable discussions, but party members urged their constituents to support state Attorney General Ken Salazar because of his electability.Supporters said French is charismatic and fair. In a victory speech Wednesday night, his charisma was evident as he said, “I look forward to a slate in November of John Kerry, Ken Salazar, Mark Udall, Gary Lindstrom, Bill Wallace … and me!”

Kerry is running for president. Udall is the incumbent 2nd District congressman. Lindstrom, who created the county commission vacancy, is running for the state House of Representatives.Upon hearing Wallace announce his appointment, French turned and hugged his daughter, Molly Lee, who had been one of two in the audience to nominate him, shook hands with opponent Michael Bertaux and thanked party chair Sandy Briggs who said, “Welcome aboard!””The rookie always gets the dirty jobs and I wonder what that will be,” he told the audience. After more than seven years as the “newest” commissioner on the three-member board, Wallace seemed relieved to relinquish the role as rookie commissioner.French said he was, “pleased, honored and stunned” to be appointed. He told opponents Bertaux and Girvin, “Don’t leave me.” Party member Don Parsons urged the group to maintain its cohesion.”Campaigns tend to pull us apart … now is the time for us to congeal,” Parsons said. “We need to come together behind Bob and his energy, Gary (Lindstrom) and the new Kerry/Edwards ticket.” Girvin said she was disappointed and surprised the vote was decided in only one round.

“I’m sure Bob will do a good job,” she said.Crandall said she was not surprised French was chosen in one round. “Bob has the quality of inclusion and has a lot of name recognition,” she said. “One of the issues in choosing someone this evening was moving him forward in November.”Crandall said she was glad the decision took just one round, “Because it shows unity among democrats.”Kim Marquis can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 249, or at kmarquis@summitdaily.com.


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