Summit Daily News to host election forum on Oct. 3
Ballots will go out in the mail on Oct. 15. Yes, that means it’s time to decide.
The Summit Daily News is here to help.
Please join the Daily, in partnership with the Summit Association of Realtors, Summit County Builders Association and the Summit Chamber of Commerce, for an election forum from 6 to 8 p.m. on October 3 at the Summit County Community and Senior Center in Frisco.
Candidates for the Summit County sheriff and Colorado House District 61 races will be in attendance to debate the issues. Additionally, pro and con perspectives will also be presented on Summit County’s 1A ballot item, a proposed mill levy that would raise $8.8 million per year for wildfire mitigation, mental health services, affordable early childhood care and education, and revamping the county’s recycling program. Also join us for a meet and greet with the candidates from 5:30 to 6 p.m.
Summit County Sheriff
The Democratic incumbent, Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons, is facing a rematch with Republican Derek Woodman, formerly the second in command for the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.
In 2016, Woodman lost to FitzSimons by just several hundred votes. At the time, he vowed to run again to unseat his opponent. He made good on his promise.
Woodman’s 35-year career in Summit County law enforcement ended abruptly in 2016 when county commissioners named FitzSimons as acting sheriff after John Minor stepped down to head the Silverthorne Police Department.
FitzSimons then fired Woodman, who was Minor’s number two, arguing that an electoral opponent of the sheriff shouldn’t also be serving under him.
That touched off the closest and perhaps most contentious race in Summit County that year.
Woodman began his career in Summit County law enforcement as a jail deputy in 1981. He earned a steady string of promotions from there, heading the now-disbanded Summit County Drug Task Force and serving as undersheriff for more than a decade.
He was also responsible for the sheriff’s office boat patrol division, winter backcountry patrol and served as liaison for Summit County Search and Rescue and Water Rescue.
FitzSimons is currently in his second year in office but will be seeking a full, four-year term for the first time.
FitzSimons served as a Summit sheriff’s deputy for 12 years prior to his appointment to acting sheriff. Before that, he served in the Los Angeles Police Department, where he rose to the rank of detective and investigated homicides and drug cases.
House District 61
Dillon resident Julie McCluskie is the Democratic candidate for House District 61, which covers Summit, Lake and Pitkin counties and portions of Delta and Gunnison counties. She faces Republican candidate Mike Mason, a Delta resident.
Mason has a degree in physics and was an engineer for 30 years, working on projects ranging from designing instrumentation to find life on Mars to developing traffic light synchronization systems. He is also a Navy veteran, having served in the Navy for two years and ending his career as an E-5 Missile Fire Control technician.
In their golden years, Mason and his wife Judy settled down on a 300-acre farm near the town of Cedaredge in Delta, where they grow alfalfa, wine grapes, raspberries, blackberries and house livestock.
McCluskie currently serves as Summit County School District’s director of communications and is a longtime Summit resident. McCluskie also served as director of communications for former Lt. Gov. Joseph Garcia for several years.
Ballot Item 1A
The proposed 4.7 mill levy would raise commercial and residential taxes for county residents annually by $33.96 for every $100,000 of property value. So for a property worth $1 million, the owner will pay $340 in additional property taxes each year for the next decade.
The $8.8 million would be divided annually, with a guaranteed $1 million for wildfire prevention, $2 million for mental health services and suicide prevention, $1.7 million for recycling and waste diversion, $1.6 million for county infrastructure maintenance and improvements and $2.5 million for affordable early childhood care and learning.
For wildfire prevention, the $1 million would help fund fuel breaks around neighborhoods, clear-cutting projects for beetle-killed pine, better firefighting infrastructure and cistern installations in critical areas, patrols and other mitigation measures.
The $2 million for mental health services and suicide prevention would go toward tackling a list of recommendations for repairing the county’s mental health system. The recommendations were conceived and delivered by Building Hope, a nonprofit with the goal of improving mental health care access and suicide prevention.
For recycling, the county is trying to inch closer toward its goal of “zero waste” by improving and expanding landfill, recycling and compost systems. At the moment, Summit only recycles about 20 percent of its waste, but with the funding the county hopes to double that diversion rate to 40 percent.
The $1.6 million for public infrastructure would go toward improving facilities for several agencies including Summit County Search & Rescue and the county’s road and bridge department. Funds will also be used to expand the county’s Emergency Operations Center, the community and senior center, the library and the construction of new child care centers.
In addition to new child care centers, $2.5 million will also go each year toward a sliding-scale tuition assistance program for Summit 4-year-olds. The program was developed by a community task force made up of Early Childhood Options, Summit School District, the county, local child care centers, The Summit Foundation, the Family and Intercultural Resource Center, and Early Milestones Colorado.
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