Candidates offer ideas on improving fund balances

Commissioner hopefuls campaign at GOP luncheon

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Commissioner candidate Stan Hathhorn said he sees nothing positive happening in Moffat County during a candidates' forum Thursday.

Comments such as that made Hathhorn a lightning rod for questions during the Moffat County Republican Women luncheon.

The four candidates for Moffat County commissioner discussed their campaign platforms at the luncheon. They agreed that the county should be run like a business, and reserves need to be rebuilt.

Hathhorn, an independent candidate who is running against Republican Saed Tayyara for District 2, used only a couple of his seven allotted minutes to discuss his plans to rebuild the Road and Bridge Department's reserves.

Tayyara used the balance of his time to relate his life story, including his immigration from the Middle East.

Terry Carwile, a Democrat running against Tom Gray for District 1, said he would like to hire a county administrator to help run the county as a business, but he acknowledged the county may not be able to fund such a position for several years.

Gray said he'd make it his first priority to fund mandated services and run other services in the most efficient way possible.

Every chair was filled at the luncheon.

Reading in a quiet voice, Hathhorn, owner of Magnum Metals, said the Road and Bridge Department is the most important county department, and cuts must be made in other departments to rebuild Road and Bridge reserves so it can afford to weather the "calamity" that eventually would occur here.

He said he didn't know what departments he would cut to rebuild Road and Bridge's reserves. If elected, he would choose whatever "made sense" when he saw the budget.

"I don't think any department is sacrosanct," Hathhorn said.

But upon questioning, he called the Natural Resources Department "a publicly funded lobby for several large ranchers."

Jeff Comstock, the Natural Resources Department director, said a commissioner candidate has threatened to cut his department during every election since he took the job. He's "grown numb" to such campaign promises, he said.

"I wear it like a badge of honor," Comstock said.

When asked by Republican Women member Corrie Scott whether he saw anything positive happening in Moffat County, Hathhorn at first declined to answer the question.

Pressed by Scott, he said he could think of nothing positive happening in Moffat County.

If elected, Tayyara said he'd maintain a balanced budget. He said he would build up a trust fund as well as fund balances and develop intergovernmental agreements between local governments.

Tayyara agreed that government should be run like a business but identified several ways in which the two entities differ. The purpose of a business is to make money, he said, but some services couldn't make money but still were important.

Carwile, a miner at Trapper Mine, used his time to focus on one issue -- hiring a county administrator or manager to run the county like a business. This position would improve continuity between commissioner boards, he said.

Carwile said that it may not be financially feasible in the next few years, but it is something the county should work toward, he said.

Hiring an administrator would be a "cultural shift" in county government, Carwile said. It's the commissioners' job to set policy, he said, but sometimes the commissioners get bogged down in details and don't make the best decisions.

Carwile said he was not philosophically opposed to wilderness designations for federal land, but he would support such a designation only if it were supported locally.

Gray, an explosives salesman and operator of a small cow-calf operation, described himself as a Christian, a Republican, a family man and a leader with no personal agenda. He has roots in agriculture, hunts, operates a business and knows budgets.

Gray's priority would be to fund mandated and essential services.

"Is it necessary and done in the most cost efficient way possible?" Gray said, describing how his budgeting process would work. He favors less government, lower-cost government and individual rights.

Early voting starts Monday. The election is Nov. 2.

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