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Summit Daily News endorsements

For county commissioner: Gary LindstromIncumbent, independent candidate Gary Lindstrom deserves another four years in office. Green Party challenger Justin McCarthy is running a good race, but Lindstrom’s experience and record warrant a return to office.On many issues, Lindstrom and McCarthy are not far apart. A more interesting race would have been McCarthy versus Republican Tom Long.Lindstrom offers a community-minded voice on many issues, including the environment and employee housing. Lindstrom also speaks out on issues of diversity and the important roles immigrants play in the community. He was a force for getting partner health insurance benefits for county employees and their significant others – no matter their gender.On issues of diversity, Lindstrom believes all residents are important, and newcomers are essential to the economy. He strives for inclusiveness.Lindstrom held his ground in losing a 2-1 vote on the Lower Blue Master Plan when the matter was hanging on a mandated ban on golf courses. He lost in a defense of the “people’s plan.” If re-elected, he will be keeping a close eye on Copper Mountain’s Comprehensive Development Strategy, a build-out plan that will many fear will worsen a parking shortage at the resort.He also can be expected to start advocating the need for Summit County bring itself up from the digital ghetto. High-speed Internet access is a pathway to economic diversity, he says. We agree.—Governor: Rollie HeathGov. Bill Owens had his shot at leading Colorado. Economic times call for new leadership in the form of Democrat Rollie Heath, a seasoned business executive.Everybody in the tourism business remembers Owens’ “All of Colorado is burning” comment. While the fires are out, another kind of charring is taking place – the loss of jobs to burned out telecom and dotcom industries.If United Airlines goes bankrupt, the news could get worse. The unheralded Heath understands the business world and would be an improvement over the incumbent, who thinks being governor of the Front Range is good enough.The first order of business is to triple tourism promotion spending to get Colorado moving again as a destination vacation spot; the second – address the health insurance crisis.Owens is more interested in punching up his GOP credentials for other ambitions than wrestling with pragmatic solutions for Colorado.—Senate District 16: Joan Fitz-GeraldDemocratic incumbent Joan Fitz-Gerald of Jefferson County is running against Republican Web Sill of Gilpin County. If you believe conservative Republican Gov. Bill Owens will be re-elected and Republicans will retain control of the State House of Representatives, then you will agree Fitz-Gerald should be re-elected. In the last election, her victory swung the state Senate over to the Democrats by a one-vote majority.If the Democrats don’t hold the state Senate, the Front Range Republicans in the Governor’s Mansion and Statehouse will have field day with the Western Slope – taking water, grabbing highway money and diluting 1041 powers. A monolithic government also would be vulnerable to far-right social agenda initiatives.Web Sill, the challenger from Gilpin County, looks like a good, practical mountain Republican. Shadow groups did him no favors, though, with recent trumped-up mailings impugning Fitz-Gerald’s patriotism and linking her to support of pornography in schools, just because she opposed mandated Internet filters.—House District 56: Carl MillerDemocrat Carl Miller of Leadville, an incumbent running for election in a new district that includes Summit, Eagle and Lake counties, should be returned to the Statehouse.This coming legislative year, we will need this veteran of Eastern Slope-Western Slope water wars more than ever.Fueled by the record drought, Front Range lawmakers will be doing all they can to suck every last drop possible from the Western Slope so that the uncontrolled sprawl in the Interstate 25 corridor can continue unabated.Miller also will help fight off sure-to-appear attempts to weaken the so-called 1041 powers that counties use to stop environmentally damaging projects, such as Front Range water grabs.Republican Heather Lemon of Eagle County is the choice of environmentalists in a race that reverses the usual notions of liberal and conservative. For sure, Miller is conservative on some issues. Check his pro-gun votes. He would never make it in Boulder.We also like his fights against identity theft and his pronounced support for public investment in tourism promotion. Miller knows what powers his district, and that’s visitation.In the end, what we like the most about Miller is his overriding ethic – “I always vote my district.”—U.S. Senate: Tom StricklandRepublican Wayne Allard’s voting record is conservative and partisan, on the order of South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond. That’s not Colorado. Allard was on the wrong side of accounting procedures reform, that is until the Enrons of the corporate world exploded.He is not the friend of the environment his advertising would have us believe.Democratic challenger Tom Strickland, who owns a vacation place way up French Gulch, should be Colorado’s new senator, especially when it comes time for President Bush to send up a Supreme Court nominee.If Allard is still in the Senate, he will vote for nominees eager to turn back Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose.Strickland’s election is important for Democrats to hold the U.S. Senate and force a split government on the Bush-Cheney administration.Yes, Strickland was a highly paid lobbyist for big business such as WorldCom, and in the NBC “Meet the Press” debate last month, he refused to meet questions about those relationships head-on.Neither candidate in the Senate race is a knight in shining armor. This race is more about national politics and maintaining Democratic control of the U.S. Senate to help keep Bush-Cheney somewhat in check.—U.S. House of Representatives: Mark UdallDemocrat Mark Udall of Boulder is the clear-cut choice in the 2nd District, which now includes Summit County. With Udall, we actually will have a congressman we can see. Udall is from Boulder, but he knows and loves the mountains and our issues. He won’t be a stranger in Summit County. It’s not confirmed, but Udall may locate a district office in Frisco or Dillon.Udall also knows how to work across party lines to achieve results. That may prove useful as Breckenridge and Summit County have attracted his attention to find some help for the big $9 million open space purchase of the B&B lands in the Golden Horseshoe of the Upper Blue Basin.Mark Udall is a Summit County kind of guy.—Summit Combined Housing Authority .05 sales tax: YesThis small sales tax (Measure 5A) will generate about $400,000 annually to put the Summit Housing Authority on a solid financial footing. The question asks too little for too big of a job, but still deserves passage to keep the housing authority in business.Voters should also vote for Measure 5B, which exempts the SHA from constitutional limits on revenues. It would allow the SHA to keep all revenues and not issue refunds, as would otherwise be necessary under the Taxpayers Bill of Rights.Currently, the SHA is funded with slices of public money from local governments and the ski areas. It is a shaky coalition.Under the law allowing this vote, the SHA could have asked for slivers of sales taxes, property taxes and impact fees on development. An impact fee cannot be enacted by itself – a concession legislators gave to the homebuilding industry.After the Summit School District property tax increase of 2001, nobody wanted to go the route of adding to that burden for the SHA. And then, local politicians could not agree on how to divvy up a sales tax, impact fee package, and the ski resorts were looking at that combination to relieve them of the financial obligations they face with current land use approvals.The .05 sales tax, 5 cents on a $100 purchase, is what’s left. It lets local government, ski resorts and developers off easy – for now. But it is a start. Just don’t expect the .05 percent tax to buy any new construction of affordable housing. SHA will continue to seek partnerships, such as Breckenridge’s Gibson Heights project.Most people agree affordable housing is an economic development issue. In the future, one of two things will have to occur: Zoning codes will have to require affordable housing as part of construction approvals, or a greater revenue stream will be needed to help build it under the current system of leveraged partnerships.—Colorado River Water ConservationDistrict property tax: YesThe Colorado River Water Conservation District, already funded by a small property tax in 15 counties, including Summit, wants another quarter mill (Referendum 4A) to generate $2.7 million more per year. If you want more water storage created on the Western Slope, and to save existing water with efficiency projects, you’ll vote for this one.This would be water to benefit Western Colorado, not Denver.The district will place the money in a special fund dedicated to shoring up dams, enlarging existing water storage and saving water through the lining of ditches and canals. A record drought year makes this question a no-brainer.—Frisco golf course spending ban: YesFrisco voters are asked to reaffirm a 1992 ordinance to ban spending public money on design and construction of a golf course at the Peninsula Recreation Area. This time, the ban would be strengthened to close a loophole the town council used this year to do general land-use planning that included golf at the peninsula – and whether a course would fit – along with everything else envisioned in the town’s Parks and Recreation Master Plan.That’s done, so this question is moot in one sense while remaining relevant on the larger, emotional question of golf.Truthfully, the study turned out to be a worthwhile exercise. What we learned is that, if a golf course were ever to be contemplated at the peninsula, a nine-hole course would be the right choice, so that everything else, might also fit on the town’s 219 acres. The town was vilified for forging ahead, but the new knowledge is useful for all parties – for and against golf.Which returns us to the big question. Should golf ever be allowed on the peninsula? The answer remains no, in our opinion. That is why we endorse a yes vote on this question.In reality, an affordable golf course, and that’s what pro-golfers envision in this issue, will have to be a shared expense with Frisco joining checkbooks with neighboring towns, or forming a regional recreation district. Debt to create a golf course will be the final do-or-die ballot issue for golf, if that day ever comes.The sunny side of the county, in the Dillon-Silverthorne corridor, would be a better golf course location, offering longer seasonal play. Voters on the north end of the county certainly should have their say on that.The peninsula should be preserved as the close-in backcountry for which it is cherished.A golf course on the peninsula would diminish the Frisco Nordic Center experience, creating open spaces for snow cover to burn off faster. It would obliterate trails, summer and winter.Those wanting golf should start creating alliances with Frisco’s neighbors. In the meantime, Frisco should operate the Peninsula Recreation Area in a way to foster the kind of visitor experience pro-golf people want for town business viability.Currently, public land at the peninsula is leased to two concessionaires, one for Nordic skiing, the other for sleigh rides. They operate independently of each other, to say the least.Other resorts offer Nordic skiing, sleigh rides and lunch and dinner packages that fit nicely together and offer families a choice of activities and dining amenities in one location. Why not Frisco?For summer, Frisco and the U.S. Forest Service should come to terms with managing trails, getting rid of unsustainable ones and building a well-signed network for bikers and hikers. The peninsula is already a summer amenity. It’s just not treated as one.Better forest management also is a must, including an aggressive campaign against the pine beetle. If the pine beetle goes unchecked, the forest will die and the land may as well become a golf course.


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