City council discusses reasons for running, achievements and priorities


The incumbents

Why did you run for a Craig City Council seat?
Mayor Dave DeRose: I felt that it was time for me to be involved in city government. There are some issues I wanted to see out to the end of my possible term. One is economic development and the other is a recreation center.
Councilor Tom Gilchrist: My interest started with my involvement on the Craig Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. I am an avid bicycle rider and I fully support efforts to improve the local trails systems. We have an outstanding Parks and Recreation department that has developed and maintains beautiful parks and great programs for our community. I believe the group should be fully supported to continue its mission.
My experience on the advisory board taught me that active participation in government does result in making things happen. This understanding and a desire to become more involved in other areas of the city's business led me to run originally.
I am running again because my original goals have not changed much. I still believe we have a great parks and recreation program that should be fully supported to continue its mission. This currently entails support of existing facilities and programs as well as proceeding with the directions outlined in the Parks, Recreation and Trails Master Plan. When I asked my daughters what they thought about my running again, my youngest said, "Well Dad, you have to run to see the rec center through."
Councilor Kent Nielson: I wanted to learn more about our local government and get more involved. I have really enjoyed the past four years and I am excited about the city of Craig and where we are going.
Councilor Billy Bingham: "I like doing what we do. It's neat and I've been learning a lot.

What do you feel are your (the council's) greatest accomplishments in the past term?
DeRose: Keeping our budget in check and still affording to give employee cost of living raises while not downsizing services.
Gilchrist: I think the council's greatest accomplishment is to facilitate moving forward with the goals and work product of an outstanding and professional city staff. This is a group effort but make no mistake in understanding the results are due mainly to the dedicated professionals working for the city. The important results of their hard work include:
• Maintaining a very acceptable level of city services during times of zero economic growth
• Operating within a flat budget by making do with what's available, working smarter and being innovative to reduce costs
• Producing and following several departmental master plans. These plans outline and prioritize areas of focus and help set directions. The focus on these plans keeps the city moving forward and continually improving.
• Providing support for the economic development effort that will eventually broaden our economic base, reduce our reliance on one or two industries and provide the necessary opportunities that will allow our children to remain here and prosper if that is their desire.
• Passing an ordinance that made possession of tobacco products by anyone under 18 illegal provided support against one of the greatest health risks facing Americans.
Nielson: The tobacco ordinance and supporting the Craig Parks and Recreation Department in being the lead agency in the recreation center.
Bingham: Every night we're there, we have great accomplishments.

What do you feel were your greatest challenges in you past term?
DeRose: The greatest challenge is to facilitate the answer to question two and still maintain infrastructure and services.
Gilchrist: Remembering to keep politics out of decisions and letting a dedicated, professional staff do its job. Adhering to policies even when they are unpopular and costly
Nielson: Hospital and economic development issues.
Bingham: Learning all the ins and outs. I don't know everything yet.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the city in the next 2-4 years?
DeRose: Our greatest challenge in my mind is to stimulate our local economy to keep our community working and growing at a healthy pace. I do not feel that a boom is a good thing but would like to see a steady 3 to 5 percent growth per year. That kind of growth helps all of the community and as a good friend of mine says, "When it rains, we all get wet."
Gilchrist: Continuing to follow our master plans; proceeding with a recreation center supported by the city, college district, school district and county; supporting the efforts of the economic development committee; supporting the college district's efforts to move forward with a new campus and programs that will benefit not only students, but the whole Yampa Valley; and working with the county to resolve the issues in the urban development area defined in the new City/County Master Plan.
Nielson: Master plan intergovernmental agreement with the county, hospital issues and recreation center.
Bingham: The hospital and the recreation center. The recreation center will be a good thing if we can make it work.

What are your goals for the city in the next 2-4 years?
DeRose: I think that we need to set our sights on the things I have mentioned above and also I have a goal to see all of our departments run as efficiently as they can.
Gilchrist: The operating within budget, allowing the excellent and professional staff to do its job, making sure that city staff positions are fairly and adequately compensated and proceeding with the items listed in No. 4 above.
Nielson: To continue to be fiscally responsible and to improve economic development.
Bingham: We need to get more people involved. The only time people get involved is when they're mad.

What do you feel you contribute to the council? What sets you apart from the others?
DeRose: I hope that I have contributed to a good management system and that the meetings are run in a smooth and business like manner, but I don't feel that there is any thing special about me. I do feel that the council we have does make a good team and I am proud to have served with all of the six members and I look forward to serving with Joe Herod.
Gilchrist: I contribute 1/7 of the effort of the council. I sit in the third council seat from the left -- no one else does that! The council is a group effort, no one part greater than the whole. We have an excellent mayor whose only agenda is the betterment of Craig. He directs a council made up of common citizens whose main attributes include a desire to be involved with and support our great city!
Nielson: I feel like I bring an open mind and sense of humor to the council. I was always under the impression that to be in a political position was to be serious all of the time. I have learned that we can represent the citizens of Craig and have a good time doing it. I have a genuine concern for our community and the people that live here. I want the best for both.
Bingham: My haircut. I really don't know yet. It's all new.

What do you think is necessary to improve city/county relations?
DeRose: I have thought a lot bout that and I have to admit that I have no answer for that question.
Gilchrist: I think we need to continue to hold periodic joint meetings. These keep us face to face and remind us that we have common goals in many areas. These meetings allow us to hear and discuss each other's goals and perspectives.
Nielson: I think that we need to communicate more and to be willing discuss things and work on issues that better both government entities.
Bingham: Communication and to go into each meeting open-minded.

The newcomer
Craig native Joe Herod said he just wants to serve the community.
"I was born and raised in this town and it's given a lot to me and my family," the 41-year-old co-owner of Action Drain said.
He will be the newest face seen on the Craig City Council after being elected to his seat Tuesday with the second-highest number of votes among council candidates.
Herod said he expects to deal with financial and growth-related issues during his four-year term.
As a councilor, he's there to "just make it work."
"I'm just one person in the big scheme of things," he said. "I think we're on the right track. We have good council members and a good mayor."
Herod lives in Craig with his wife, Lila. He has two children, Casey, 20, and Chelsey, 14.
"I've lived in Craig and am able to understand what the challenges are living in a small town."

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