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Summit Daily endorsements

EDITORIAL BOARD

We looked in the wrong place for terrorists, and now instead of crushing them, we’re creating them. That’s the situation with the war in Iraq. What’s more disturbing is that once we crushed Saddam Hussein’s army, we failed to understand the consequences of what happens next.It’s tragic that a CIA report predicting insurgency after the Iraqi army melted away was ignored. It’s dumfounding that the Bush administration even needed a CIA report to predict guerrilla warfare.We can’t run away today. We need more troops on the ground and a coordinated international effort to both secure and rebuild Iraq. We also need a new American president to lead the effort. That is why we endorse Democrat John Kerry over incumbent Republican President George W. Bush. Kerry has no choice but to be strong on national defense and the war on terrorism. We find it comforting he’s cradled an M-16 and knows combat of the type occurring in Iraq – the kind where there’s no such thing as a front line. We also prefer Kerry for his stance on the environment and his desire to make sense of federal spending and taxing. At the rate we are going, we’re spending more and taxing less. The math adds up to big trouble, but it seems the incumbent president ignores the future.For U.S. Senate – Ken SalazarDemocrat Ken Salazar, the current Colorado attorney general, is our choice for U.S. Senate. He understands Colorado is bigger than the Front Range, which is good for us on the Western Slope. He is steeped in land and water issues and could be expected to be an effective force in the Senate, working both sides of the aisle.For U.S. House- Mark UdallIncumbent Democrat Mark Udall is running against token Republican opposition, which is an endorsement itself. Regardless, he gets our hearty support, as he did in 2002 when redistricting put Summit in Udall’s 2nd District.Udall wears the family name well. He is a man of the West, fighting for our environment, but in collaborative ways that are more likely to produce results. He gets along well with his Republican peers.For the state House – Gary LindstromDemocrat Gary Lindstrom offers Summit County a chance to have a hometown representative in the state Capitol. We cannot pass that up because of the economic, water and transportation issues we face as a county and as a state.Lindstrom earned his stripes as a Summit County commissioner, and in a previous life, as a police officer. He balances environmental and social concerns with a fiscally conservative and common sense point of view.His views are not that far from Republican Heather Lemon’s, who in her second attempt for the District 56 seat, has done well to advance her position. Still, when it comes down to it, Summit needs a hometown elected official telling our story in Denver.For district attorney – Mark HurlbertRepublican Mark Hurlbert, who was appointed to the Fifth Judicial District DA’s post, wins our endorsement for election in his own right.He understands the High Country and has grown in the job. Three county sheriffs, albeit they are Republicans, have endorsed Hurlbert. Anyone with doubts after the Kobe Bryant case should take note of this fact. What’s more, Hurlbert is homegrown, a graduate of Summit High School, and now a family man living in Breckenridge. For county commissioner- Jim Stover, Bill WallaceIn District 1, we like Republican Jim Stover. Stover comes to the election well informed on critical issues of growth, land use, development and open space from his time as a member of the Upper Blue Planning Commission. He also understands water issues from his service on the Breckenridge Sanitation District Board.Stover’s background in the issues gives him our nod over the appointed Democratic incumbent, Bob French. We also like Stover’s views on dealing with Summit County buildout issues before they hit. We expect that he would be a leader in trying to implement a countywide transfer of a development rights program that would help preserve private open space while offering property owners cash value for their land.District 2 – Bill WallaceIn District 2, incumbent Democrat Bill Wallace is our choice over Green Party member Tom Castrigno. Castrigno raises many issues about the economy and housing that should be discussed, but we like Wallace’s experience and record.Wallace led the effort to increase the mass transit sales tax to bring about late-night Summit Stage bus service. He was a leader in bringing about construction of a new hospital. He was one of the visionaries behind Question 1A last November that won extension of a mill levy to help fund a state-of-the-art recycling center at the Summit County Landfill and a new Community Care Clinic. He’s a big supporter of open space acquisitions and in his next term he will be on the hunt for some kind of permanent funding solution for the critical Summit Housing Authority.Judge retentions- yes to Ruckriegle, Lass and CasiasSummit County District Court Judges Terry Ruckriegle and David Lass are up for retention, as is Summit County Court Judge Ed Casias. We endorse retention for all three. All three are recommended by an independent judicial review commission.In the review, however, we think Judge Ruckriegle is unduly penalized for his directness. The judge is not one to tolerate unpreparedness or monkey business in his court. We think this is good. Some people in a confidential survey conducted by the review commission must not. It’s a bad rap.Ruckriegle is a rare commodity, a judge out and about in his community, accessible to his friends and neighbors but in a professional way. Referred Measures 3A and 3B – yesThe Summit School District is asking for renewal of a three-year special mill levy (3A) that would generate $4 million annually and a separate $34.5 million bond issue to fund renovations and additions to schools.The mill levy is an absolute necessity to maintain our schools at current levels. If it fails, educational programs will be cut. How did we get to this point? State law forces voter approval every three years for the extra money. The money is used to boost education by moving maintenance and technology costs from the general budget. Every three years, the do-or-die question will arise and the consequences of a no vote are intolerable.This was the devil’s bargain the state Legislature created when it permitted local school districts to ask for extra money above and beyond state funding formulas. The bond issue has at its core a renovation of the Summit Middle School. This $22 million project would save the best of the hodge-podge school and tear down the parts that don’t work anymore. Frisco Elementary also would get a much-needed renovation. Another key piece is a $5 million addition to Summit High School to create a career and technology education wing.The latter effort is a much-needed recognition that not everybody is college material, and even if they are, they can benefit from learning more about work-a-day jobs. In this day and age, it’s a rare job that is not high tech. We need this type of learning for our students.Constitutional Amendments 34, 35, 36 and 37 – no, no, no, noThe ease by which our Constitution can be amended is scandalous. Any special interest can hire enough professional petitioners to put a question on the ballot. We saw that last year with the video slot machine issue, which voters thankfully defeated.The safest vote for any constitutional amendment is a no vote. Most of what hits the ballots should be legislated actions, not constitutional ones.That’s not to say we don’t like some of the issues on the Nov. 2 ballot. Specifically, higher tobacco taxes are a must (Amendment 35) and anything that creates more green power (Amendment 37) is mandatory in the face of global warning.Amendment 36, which would split our electoral votes in presidential elections, is bad. The idea is intriguing and speaks to voters’ frustrations. But any such discussion must be a nationwide effort. Colorado should not go it alone and become inconsequential in presidential elections.Amendment 34, an overreaction to legislative action about shoddy homebuilding, also is a bad idea. Its fatal flaw is a stipulation that would rule out any possibility of builders and consumers working on a remedy before the lawsuits fly. Having said all of that, we are recommending no votes on all of the amendments on the philosophical point that this is no way to run the ship of state.The uncontestedRepublican County Commissioner Tom Long, Republican Sheriff John Minor and Republican Surveyor Rich Ferris are on the ballot, but face no opposition. They are worth the time to pencil black dots next to their names.Long is seeking his last term in office because of term limits. What a shame. He’s our leading advocate in the water wars, and as a Summit County native, he brings special insight to the Board of County Commissioners.Sheriff Minor got our backing in the primary. He gets it again.Surveyor Ferris does a job nobody else wants. That the office is elected is a remnant of days gone by. Give him a black dot and a pat on the back.


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