Republican candidate announces intent to run for Les Hampton's District 1 seat

Tom Gray threw his hat in the ring for the Moffat County Board of Commissioners District 1 seat on Feb. 9.

Gray will go up against incumbent Commissioner Les Hamton for the Republican nomination.

A Moffat County resident for the last 31 years, Gray lives north of Craig with his wife, Brenda. He has three children, the youngest of whom attends Mesa State College. Gray works for Western Explosives Systems Co., and operates a small cow-calf operation.

At the start of his campaign, Gray is calling for fiscal reform and cooperation between the county and the city.

"Some bridges need to be built in the spirit of cooperation," Gray said.

Since the county and the city provide many of the same services or have interests in the same institutions, such as the cemetery, he said he'd like to see both government bodies reach a consensus about what is best for the citizens they serve.

Gray began considering a run for the commissioner board about six months ago, when he said it was becoming evident that the county was facing financial problems. The county needs to stop overspending and concentrate on basic services, he said.

"Sound fiscal management means you budget conservatively. If revenue comes in, you'll still be all right. You find something to do with the extra money."

Gray said he agreed with most of the cuts the commissioner board made to balance the 2004 budget. But he takes issue with the board for letting a situation develop where drastic cuts had to be made.

"I was a little disappointed things got to the point where emergency measures had to be made," he said.

Although he has no government experience, Gray said he knows what it takes to run a business and knows how to balance a budget. Gray operated a fencing business for 12 years before moving to Moffat County.

Gray has been active in the Republican Party caucuses in the county and is active in his church.

He's running his campaign by attending public meetings and talking to county residents about their concerns, as well as relying on the people who know him to get his message out.

For example, on Monday he attended the Northwest Colorado Stewardship meeting to familiarize himself with the people and the issues that play vital roles in the community. He's still gathering information about issues such as land management before taking a political stance, although he said he does believe the local community needs to have a say in how their public lands are governed.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or by e-mail at rgebhart@craigdailypress.com.

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