City election will be Tuesday

Don Jones, the lone mayoral candidate in Tuesday's city election, is a safe bet to succeed Dave DeRose. But five other candidates, including incumbent Bill Johnston, are vying for three open seats on the council.

The polling location for Tuesday's election is City Hall, 300 W. Fourth St. and voters can cast ballots between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Following is a list of questions we asked the candidates to answer to help voters gauge their qualifications for office.

TERRY CARWILE

Council candidate

Address: 1115 Washington St.

Age: 57

Family: Two sons

Education: High school graduate with one year of college before enlisting in the military

Occupation: Trapper Mine equipment operator

Previous political experience: Candidate for Colorado House in 2002 and for Moffat County commissioner in 2004

Q: What do you consider the biggest challenge currently facing the city of Craig and its residents?

A: Although it's not very evident at the moment, I think growth will be a big challenge for our community in the near future.

Q: The city's budget has remained flat for several years. Considering that the city has had years of little revenue growth while operational costs have continued to increase, how do you plan to modify spending?

A: Issues such as this require a total team effort. By that I mean every department and every employee is a stakeholder and has a role to play in the solution.

Q: If the council faces the choice of giving cost-of-living raises to employees or funding capital projects and purchases, where would you stand?

A: The most important resource that we have to address problems such as this is people. I would definitely focus on keeping the organization as stable as possible. The cost-of-living pay increase for personnel would come first on my priority list.

Q: Is there any department that you would target for cuts?

A: Please permit me to combine this answer with the answer to the question that follows. From a management standpoint, budget cuts need to be as evenhanded as possible. Close cooperation with senior management, department heads and employees is the best way to approach the problem. The same holds true for departmental funding. Every funding request is evaluated on its merits.

Q: Is there any department that you think is under funded?

A: Answered above.

Q: What do you think the city's role should be in combating the meth problem in Northwest Colorado?

A: The meth problem ranks up there with the challenges referred to in the first question. The city should definitely be in a leadership role. I believe we've made a good beginning with the Task Force and the increase in community awareness. This is one problem we should keep our attention on until we solve it. I recently saw a presentation by the Craig Police Department about meth, its use and manufacture. It was very powerful and very enlightening! This is the sort of educational process that can lead to success.

Q: Do you support incentives to lure a major retailer or large employer?

A: I believe that the city should provide as level a playing field as possible for anyone who wants to start or relocate a business in Craig.

Q: What is your view of the city's relationship with Moffat County and what would you do, if anything, to improve it?

A: I think the relationship between the two is on the upswing. Not too long ago, there was a joint meeting between the City Council and the county commissioners relating to the new hospital. I hope we can do this more often. If I'm elected to the City Council, I will push for more meetings of this sort.

Closing thoughts: The only thing I would add is that it is extremely important for people to get out and vote. Local elections actually have more impact on our daily lives yet receive less attention.

CODY DRAPER

Council candidate

Address: 780 Yampa Ave.

Age: 26

Family: Dog Maxx; parents Marvin and Shary; and three brothers

Education: 1997 graduate of Moffat County High School, state-licensed insurance agent

Occupation: Co-owner, insurance agent, Draper Insurance Group

Previous political experience: None

Q: What do you consider the biggest challenge currently facing the city of Craig and its residents?

A: Budget, budget, budget and jobs, jobs, jobs.

Q: The city's budget has remained flat for several years. Considering that the city has had years of little revenue growth while operational costs have continued to increase, how do you plan to modify spending?

A: Do what we all do -- if you don't have it, don't spend it! We need to find savings that can be found.

Q: If the council faces the choice of giving cost-of-living raises to employees or funding capital projects and purchases, where would you stand?

A: City employees are the heart and back bone in making the city functional, but capital funding is needed and mandated (i.e. water treatment plant) and the City Council has to look out for all the residents' interests.

Q: Is there any department that you would target for cuts?

A: I'm not in the position to answer that at this time, but if elected, I would look at all the departments to see if any cuts are possible without hurting the operational function of that department.

Q: Is there any department that you think is under funded?

A: Yes.

Q: What do you think the city's role should be in combating the meth problem in Northwest Colorado?

A: The city needs to be a big player in combating the whole drug problem, not just methamphetamines. We have a police department that is capable of arrests; no get-out-of-jail-free cards here!

Q: Do you support incentives to lure a major retailer or large employer?

A: Incentives should revolve around what the residents get in return, but we need more jobs to stay here in Craig; "large employers" could provide those jobs.

Q: What is your view of the city's relationship with Moffat County and what would you do, if anything, to improve it?

A: I think the past couple of years we've seen an improvement, and it looks like the future is only going to get better. The City Council and county commissioners need to continue to work together.

Closing thoughts: Let's work together to make Craig a great community, so get out and vote Tuesday.

LEWIS HILL

Council candidate

Address: 819 Exmoor Circle

Age: 39

Family: Wife MaLynne; four children.

Education: Two years of college

Occupation: Self-employed

Q: What do you consider the biggest challenge currently facing the city of Craig and its residents?

A: I believe that one of the biggest challenges that our community is currently facing is drugs.

Q: The city's budget has remained flat for several years. Considering that the city has had years of little revenue growth while operational costs have continued to increase, how do you plan to modify spending?

A: Our country has just gone through a downward economic cycle. I have felt this personally in my own business. We are starting to bounce back, and I believe that the City of Craig will start to feel the effects of an economy that is turning around. Also, the city needs to support new business and make this an attractive location for their growth. Being in the retail business, it has shocked me to see how many Craig residents spend their money elsewhere because of lack of competitive pricing and availability of goods.

Q: If the council faces the choice of giving cost-of-living raises to employees or funding capital projects and purchases, where would you stand?

A: If we are a city that will promote growth, there is no reason why we can't do both.

Q: Is there any department that you would target for cuts?

A: We have a great city manager, and department managers. They know best the areas that are more flexible for reductions in expenses.

Q: Is there any department that you think is under funded?

A: I am sure that every department feels under funded. We have to pick our battles with funding every year depending on the needs of the community. Obviously, the police department could use more tools to fight the drug problems.

Q: What do you think the city's role should be in combating the meth problem in Northwest Colorado?

A: Once again, supporting our local police department.

Q: Do you support incentives to lure a major retailer or large employer?

A: I do not believe that the city of Craig should pay the way for a major retailer. But I do believe that we should work with them and support them the best that we can to make the retailer feel welcome here.

Closing thoughts: I have a very positive outlook for the future of the city of Craig. Craig needs to move forward with a recreational center, cleaning up our town, combating drugs, and attracting a variety of businesses.

BILL JOHNSTON

Council candidate

Age: 52

Family: Wife Susan; son Mathew; daughter Mallory

Education: Bachelor of science in chemistry and mathematics from the University of Colorado.

Occupation: Planning Department head manager at Tri-State Generation & Transmission

Previous political experience: Served nearly six years on the Craig City Council.

Q: What do you consider the biggest challenge currently facing the city of Craig and its residents?

A: Keeping income and expenses balanced while maintaining all of the services will be a challenge.

Q: The city's budget has remained flat for several years. Considering that the city has had years of little revenue growth while operational costs have continued to increase, how do you plan to modify spending?

A: As we have for the six years I have been on the council. The city manager and staff do a great job of balancing spending with projected income.

Q: If the council faces the choice of giving cost-of-living raises to employees or funding capital projects and purchases, where would you stand?

A: Prioritizing the projects and purchases while taking care of the exceptional employees the city has.

Q: Is there any department that you would target for cuts?

A: No, the city manager and his staff would make adjustments so that any cost reductions are proactive and doesn't require prompting from the council.

Q: Is there any department that you think is under funded?

A: No, again the city manager and staff ensure a balanced approach to all department needs.

Q: What do you think the city's role should be in combating the meth problem in Northwest Colorado?

A: We are already doing it. Ensuring that our police department has all the tools, training and manpower required to combat this epidemic. We also have created a heightened awareness through Mayor DeRose's leadership in the formation of the meth awareness group of citizens called COMA.

Q: Do you support incentives to lure a major retailer or large employer?

A: No, I don't think we should give away something every citizen had to pay for themselves. I believe that the city's responsibility is to provide the proper infrastructure to support any type of growth. Water, sewer, streets, etc.

Q: What is your view of the city's relationship with Moffat County and what would you do, if anything, to improve it?

A: It has improved so much since the recent election. I commend the new commissioners for taking the necessary steps to improve the relationship.

DON JONES

Mayoral candidate

Address: 315 Bonderud Ave.

Age: 52

Family: Wife Jean, three children, Donnie, Chris and Scott; and four grandchildren, Ellina, Emma, Justyne, Grant

Education: 1970 Moffat County High School graduate and one semester at Colorado State University

Occupation: Co-owner of Craig Steel

Previous political experience: City Councilor since October 1995

Q: What do you consider the biggest challenge currently facing the city of Craig and its residents?

A: Flat sales tax revenue and keeping our current facilities, programs and services up to date and upgraded to meet new federal and state guidelines.

Q: The city's budget has remained flat for several years. Considering that the city has had years of little revenue growth while operational costs have continued to increase, how do you plan to modify spending?

A: While it is true that our sales tax revenue has remained pretty much flat for several years, we still have been able to do capital projects to our infrastructure to accommodate our demand and growth. This is being done by in large by our city manager, Jim Ferree, and his qualified staff. He has tweaked all of the departments where they are all "running lean but mean." But if sales tax revenue drops any lower we will be forced to make some tough decisions. The first one that comes to mind is a reduction in services and or programs. Let's hope it doesn't come to that and think positive -- we will prevail!

Q: If the council faces the choice of giving cost-of-living raises to employees or funding capital projects and purchases, where would you stand?

A: As in the past, I will continue to support a cost-of-living raise for our employees. You must take care of the people who are the backbone of your infrastructure. Without these people, you have no continuity in your infrastructure. I can say I am very proud of our city and staff and would match them to any city in the state.

Q: Is there any department that you would target for cuts?

A: All departments would be looked at.

Q: Is there any department that you think is under funded?

A: No

Q: What do you think the city's role should be in combating the meth problem in Northwest Colorado?

A: Continue to support all the programs that we do now and being willing to look at new ideas and programs. Our new ordinance that eliminates "Sudafed" from the shelves back to the pharmacy was a very positive step.

Q: Do you support incentives to lure a major retailer or large employer?

A: It depends on what type of incentives, type of business, how it will effect what businesses we have now! Let's not give the "farm" away to bring in somebody that will help destroy our existing businesses.

Q: What is your view of the city's relationship with Moffat County and what would you do, if anything, to improve it?

A: Hopefully our relationship will continue to build, since the election we have had more positive dialogue with the county than we have had in the last seven years. Contrary to what past commissions have thought, we all our citizens of Moffat County, and 80 percent of us live in the city of Craig. We are all on the same team, doing what is best for all citizens of Moffat County, Craig included.

Closing thoughts: I am looking forward to serving you, the citizens of Craig, as your new mayor. I enjoyed the last 9 1/2 years as your councilman, I feel I have served you well, had your best interests in mind, and I am ready for the next step, leading this fine city as mayor.

BYRON WILLEMS

Council candidate

Address: 2936 Piñon Circle

Age: 46

Family: Wife, four daughters, three grandchildren.

Education: Moffat County High School graduate

Occupation: Self-employed

Previous political experience: Numerous boards.

Q: What do you consider the biggest challenge currently facing the city of Craig and its residents?

A: I think we have two.

1. Remaining fiscally sound

2. Keep our quality core of employees

Q: The city's budget has remained flat for several years. Considering that the city has had years of little revenue growth while operational costs have continued to increase, how do you plan to modify spending?

A: At this time, I do not know of any department that is over funded, therefore, an across-the-board decrease in department budget would make the most sense.

Q: If the council faces the choice of giving cost-of-living raises to employees or funding capital projects and purchases, where would you stand?

A: Cost-of-living raises are important to keep good employees so we would have to weigh the need of the capital improvement against the available funds for cost of living raises.

Q: Is there any department that you would target for cuts?

A: No, not at this time.

Q: Is there any department that you think is under funded?

A: No, not at this time.

Q: What do you think the city's role should be in combating the meth problem in Northwest Colorado?

A: This is one I really wish I had a great answer for, but I do not. I would think if there were something we could help with, we would look at it. Such as the new law for cold medicine sales.

Q: Do you support incentives to lure a major retailer or large employer?

A: I believe everyone has a right to start a business. I also believe Wal-Mart would be good and bad for our town. It would give the citizens a place to get many more items than they do now on a daily basis. The down side is it would affect some of our local businesses, and of course empty store fronts do not help Craig. That being said, I also believe we should be consistent with what we offer everyone. New business is always important but if you offer Wal-Mart some incentives you should also offer a proportional incentive to a mom and pop shop.

Q: What is your view of the city's relationship with Moffat County and what would you do, if anything, to improve it?

A: I think the new county commissioners have already improved that, and it will only get better.

Closing thoughts: After living in Craig for 44 years I would summarize Craig by saying if you like a small town you will love Craig because it is a great small town. The Craig City Council's job is to try to keep it that way. I have served on several boards in the past and believe a board's job is to listen to the issues and make an informed decision. My board experience: seven years served on the Colorado State Fire Fighters Association Executive Board, including president; eight years served on the Colorado Wrestling Officials Association Executive Board, including president; four years served on the Craig Rural Fire Protection District Executive Board, including treasurer.

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