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In Jackson Hole, two of three candidates elected to the Teton County Commission are Democrats. One of them, Ben Ellis, 39, has a doctorate in natural resource economics and advocates Teton County become carbon-neutral within four years.

In Idaho’s Blaine County, where Ketchum and Sun Valley are located, the two Democratic candidates for commissioner both won by landslides of 60 per cent. One of the losing candidates, Mickey Garcia, was philosophical but sour. “One thing about liberal Democrats who come up here is they become ‘environmentalists’ after they buy their house,” he told the Idaho Mountain Express. “They’re phonies. They just use it as an excuse (to close the door on future development).” One of the Democratic victors, Sarah Michael, disagreed. Blaine County’s intention, she said, was to ensure that “development fits within our values and within our ability to provide services.”

Democrats also registered a lopsided win in Routt County, where Steamboat Springs is located, and a narrow one in Gunnison County, where Crested Butte is. In San Miguel County, home to Telluride, the Democratic candidate, conservation group director Joan May, had no opposition. No Republican appeared in Colorado’s Summit County to challenge the two-year incumbent, Bob French, 75, who turned back the challenge of a Green Party candidate.

The election looked green in other ways as well. In Carbondale, voters approved what appears to be a no-brainer proposal, taking advantage of new federal tax incentives to pledge $1.8 million toward construction of solar collectors that will yield 250 kilowatts of power. That’s enough electricity to meet the needs of about 53 customers per year. Because of the federal aid, the cost of installation will be paid off in 15 years, compared to the more typical 20 years.

Open space remained popular. Voters in Basalt approved a new tax for open space preservation. In Pitkin County, they approved $20 million for open space funding, the fourth appropriation approved. Park City voters also approved $20 million in bonds, on top of two $10 million bonds approved in recent years. Also approving $20 million of indebtedness was Telluride, which is seeking to condemn a 570-acre parcel called the Valley Floor to ensure no development occurs. The land is expected to ultimately cost the town $40 million to $80 million.

Voters also showed they were willing to open their pocketbooks for schools. In the Eagle Valley, voters approved bonding of $128 million for high schools in the Vail-Gypsum areas. A major school issue was approved in Steamboat Springs. A library district was approved in Garfield County, a bedroom community for both Aspen and Vail. In Durango, 83 per cent of voters approved a small sales-tax allocation to help pay for a new library that town officials want to be built with green technology.

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