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Publish Date: 8/1/2006

‘Political baggage ’ at issue in Weld race

WELD COUNTY — “He’s carrying too much political baggage .”

Republican candidates for the Weld County Board of Commissioners’ District 2 seat leveled identical accusations at each other Monday in anticipation of the Aug. 8 primary election.

Doug Rademacher says only a vendetta against Weld County’s leadership has driven his intra-party rival, Haiko Eichler, to run for office.

“If he does happen to pull this (election win) off, there would be such contentiousness with other commissioners, they wouldn’t have a good working relationship,” Rademacher said.

Eichler admits two county zoning- enforcement actions against him inspired his candidacy. Now he wants to become a commissioner and personally purge multiple business and zoning regulations from county code.

Property owners should be allowed to store junk and building materials on their land without government interference, he says, and neighbors shouldn’t be allowed to tattle on each other anonymously.

“I can either sue (the commissioners) or join them,” Eichler said of the county’s forcing him to tear down a mobile home on his ranch near Berthoud last year, and later putting a lien on his property. “Suing them was too expensive, so I’m going to join them.”

Eichler, meanwhile, claims Rademacher’s decades of civic experience make him a county insider who would be compromised when it comes to making objective, conscientious decisions.

“When you’re involved in the Weld County political machinery as long as Doug has been, you owe certain things to certain people. I don’t have that kind of political baggage ,” Eichler said. He would not elaborate.

In April 2005, Rademacher — who farms 1,700 acres in the Mead/Firestone area — entered the race to represent southwest Weld County on the board of commissioners.

He was the sole District 2 candidate at the county’s Republican Assembly, and his name will be the only one on the Republican primary ballot on Aug. 8.

Eichler, a German-born photographer who owns a direct-mail marketing business, entered the race late and became a write-in candidate by submitting a written affidavit to the county elections department.

The Republican winner will go on to face Democrat Rich Lopez and independent candidate Sharon Socher in November’s general election.

Glenn Vaad currently holds the District 2 seat but is term-limited with the county. He is running to represent state House District 48 in November.

As commissioner, Rademacher said, he would work to improve sorely lacking communication between county residents and the board. Commissioners and municipalities need to find common ground on planning the future of the mixed-use development area, he said.

Rademacher disagreed with the recent Carter & Burgess growth study that criticizes the way the county has planned growth in the MUD.

The study failed to include landowner and business owners’ perspectives, Rademacher said, but the county should have been clearer with the planning consultants in explaining what they wanted from the study.

“The commissioners are always made out to be a bad guy on land-use (decisions) when land use is probably only 15 percent of their job,” he said.

Eichler said the county should always give the towns “first dibs” on new development proposals, and commissioners should heed Carter & Burgess’ warnings about unincorporated enclaves in the MUD.

He favors a mediated summit between county and municipal leaders to overcome animosity and come to a consensus on how to proceed with regional growth.

“The county should go out of the business of putting in haphazard subdivisions against even the advice of professional consultants,” Eichler said.

Both Republican candidates rank the securing of new water rights as a high priority for the fast-growing county.

They also agree that illegal immigrants represent an onerous and unnecessary drain on county resources. Eichler endorses eliminating Spanish-language forms and signage related to county government.

Ben Ready can be reached at 303-684-5326, or by e-mail at bready@times-call.com.

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