Opinion | Susan Knopf: A view of the Summit County ballot
On July 4, I saw someone I knew marching for Derek Woodman in the Frisco parade. I asked him why he decided to vote for Woodman. He said, “I don’t vote. My friend knows him, and I thought it would be fun.”
I hope you are more thoughtful on Nov. 6.
Woodman worked for the Summit County Sheriff’s Office a long time. If he did a great job, he would have been promoted from undersheriff to sheriff, right? Nope. He was passed over — twice. FitzSimons became sheriff and won his first election in 2016. Republican County Commissioner Tom Long also passed over Woodman in 2004 and appointed John Minor. Now we know Democrat and Republican commissioners agree.
I understand why Woodman and his supporters are sore. But why the nasty political campaign tactics? One of the most egregious examples: The day Jaime’s son was wed, they parked a truck-mounted Woodman campaign banner in front of the church. That’s called bullying and that’s been the tone of Woodman’s campaign.
Jaime, on the other hand, does a great job keeping the peace, working to expand community mental health programs (mental health directly impacts crime) and the drug takeback program. I see him at every public meeting I attend. He is definitely not a part-time sheriff, as Woodman has alleged. (Perhaps Woodman is jealous of the Hollywood consulting contracts Jaime worked before becoming sheriff. Jaime worked those contracts on vacation time.)
During FitzSimons’ tenure, the sheriff’s office has maintained good response times and typical staff turnover rates, consistent with state and national averages, according to an audit released last week. Woodman published fake news on his website exaggerating real figures three to five times.
Jaime is endorsed by District Attorney Bruce Brown, Breckenridge Mayor Eric Mamula, nature photographer and environmental activist John Fielder, Breckenridge Town Councilwoman Elisabeth Lawrence, Dr. Christine Ebert-Santos and Summit County Commissioners. FitzSimons is the clear choice.
1A on the ballot
Summit Daily did a great job advocating for 1A on Oct. 15. People complain the county commissioners shouldn’t have lumped so many things together. The commissioners say they didn’t want to pit one important issue against another. 1A pays for wildfire mitigation, mental health and suicide prevention, recycling, public facility repairs and improvements, and affordable child care. It costs $2.83 per month in property taxes per $100,000 of residential property. That’s less than $250 per year for an average Summit County home valued at $726,000.
1A projects are new. The county can’t be sure it can fund them out of rising sales tax revenues (as some critics suggest) because a sharp decline in property tax revenues is anticipated due to the Gallagher Amendment. These are things we say we want. Now we decide if we want to pay for them.
As reporter Deepan Dutta’s June 13 story on the Buffalo Mountain Fire mentions, the 500-foot fire break created in 2011 and 2012 by the forest service helped save the Mesa Cortina and Wildernest neighborhoods. That fire break cost $1 million. The Dillon Ranger district spent $12 million in fuel mitigations. We anticipate less funding for future projects from the federal government, so more has to come from our pockets if we want to protect our homes.
Measures 6D and 7D are about Gallagher. Reporter Sawyer D’Argonne did a great job explaining Gallagher in his Sept. 11 article on Summit County fire districts. Taxing districts get less every year due to the Gallagher equation. So they tax at a higher rate to get the same amount of money. The taxing percentage is expected to go from 7.2 percent to about 6 percent. That is expected to cost the fire districts about $1 million each in annual funding. Colorado Mountain College; Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District and Summit Fire & EMS need consistent revenues. They are not asking for more money. They are asking to keep the same funding. Only one fire district will affect you, depending on where you live.
Measure RE-1, Question 3A asks for no money. The Summit School District RE-1 is asking for permission to step up their technology. The district is restricted under law; and they’d like to provide modern telecommunications in the schools.
Go to the polls happy knowing you are voting “Yes” to protect funding of your fire department, your local college, and allowing your school district to move forward technologically.
Susan Knopf is a Summit County resident. She has won awards from the Associated Press and United Press International for her news reporting.
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