In home stretch

Forum gives candidates platform for views

With two weeks to go until Election Day, candidates for local and state government and Congress addressed the issues affecting Northwest Colorado at Monday's candidate forum, hosted by KRAI-FM.

Answering questions from moderator Frank Hanel, Moffat County commissioner candidates discussed what could be done with the little money the county has.

State Senate candidates Jack Taylor and Jay Fetcher discussed the issues until they were given free time. Then Taylor attacked Fetcher's record on water protection.

Fetcher responded by telling voters to look at Taylor's voting record in the Legislature.

State House candidate Tom Robinson explained his concerns about gas development, and congressional hopeful Greg Walcher spoke about the importance of the war on terrorism and pledged not to raise taxes.

Moffat County commissioner District 1

Tom Gray said he would bring a change of focus to Moffat County if he were elected commissioner, and Terry Carwile said he'd bring a balanced leadership approach to the board.

Gray works for Western Explosives Systems Co. and operates a small cow-calf operation. Carwile has worked for Trapper Mine since 1978.

Gray said he did not think a commissioner's job was to advocate special tax districts for the library, weed and pest management, or hospital. He thought his duty as commissioner would be building community confidence in his ability to manage the county.

If he achieved that and community members wanted a special tax district, he would sign a resolution to create a ballot question to that effect.

Carwile called special districts "particularly attractive from the standpoint of a community owned investment."

He said a library district would be important to consider.

Gray said he didn't think it was government's job to stimulate economic development. Government should assist free enterprise by fostering a friendly business environment.

Carwile said most of the fundamentals, including tourism and natural resources, already are in place for economic development. The Economic Development Partnership is working to attract businesses, and intergovernmental agreements could do the same, he said.

To help control the methamphetamine problem in Moffat County, Carwile said he'd allocate resources to law enforcement and the courts. But the first step was education.

Gray called meth a community problem that requires a community solution.

"To make it (stick) in all of our minds is the main thing," he said.

Moffat County commissioner District 2

Saed Tayyara has spent the past three years attending meetings in Moffat County to get informed on local issues.

Stan Hathhorn has spent a considerable amount of time and money researching issues affecting the county.

Tayyara said his history as a Craig city councilor and mayor demonstrates his ability to lead the county through its financial problems. Hathhorn said his long history as a business owner does the same for him.

That's how the two candidates squared off Monday night in their second public appearance together.

Tayyara served as a Craig city councilor and mayor in the 1980s and early 1990s. Hathhorn owns Craig business Magnum Metals.

Hathhorn said he didn't approve of tax increases to support special tax districts. Tayyara would sign resolutions to put the questions on a ballot if taxpayers desired.

Hathhorn described the county's relationship with the city as appearing contentious, but he admires the way the city has handled the "so-called budget crisis." He thought the two could work together.

Tayyara said he would use his experience with the council to bring that communication to a higher level.

Colorado Senate District 8

There's not much difference between Jack Taylor and Jay Fetcher if their statements Monday are any indication.

Both said they would not move to put more money toward kindergarten through 12th-grade education if elected. Both oppose creating new firearm legislation. And both think conflicts between two Colorado amendments, Amendment 23, which mandates annual increases in education, and the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, which restricts government spending, need to be addressed if the state is to solve its financial problems.

But in an ongoing debate about water protection, Taylor attacked Fetcher's vote for a redistricting plan that moved the headwaters of the Colorado River to an Eastern Slope senate district.

The redistricting plan has become the focus of the Senate race.

Fetcher defended his vote, reading parts of a letter from Senate Majority Leader Mark Hillman praising the redistricting plan as "vastly superior" to a previous plan that divided counties.

But Taylor said Fetcher could have voted for three other maps that would have kept the headwaters of the Colorado River in a Western Slope district.

State House District 57

Sam Robinson, a retired engineer from Battlement Mesa, has seen the heavy natural gas development in Garfield County. Similar development is coming to Moffat County, he said.

"It is a major, major problem, and you're going to be faced with it," Robinson said.

Robinson is challenging Rep. Al White, R-Winter Park, for the House District 57 seat.

He got into the race to reform energy development regulations in the state, he said.

Robinson criticized the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission's composition.

Too many energy industry representatives are on the commission, he said, and not enough surface owners or environmentalists.

"If I'm on the state Legislature, I will be very active in making these things occur and protect the surface owners' rights," Robinson said.

3rd Congressional District

Greg Walcher called the war on terror the most important issue facing the United States and said he would support President George W. Bush in fighting it.

"We've got to smoke them (terrorists) out of their caves wherever they are," Walcher said.

Walcher, former Colorado Department of Natural Resources director, is running against state Rep. John Salazar, D-Manassa, to replace U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Grand Junction.

Taxes are the second most important issue in Walcher's campaign. When his campaign began, he signed the National Taxpayer Pledge, promising that he never would raise taxes.

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