Craig As the election season draws closer, political candidates are making their rounds and discussing plans for office.
Craig residents had an opportunity to listen to platforms from five Republican candidates for state, regional and county offices Wednesday at the Craig Fire/Rescue station.
The Moffat County Republican Central Committee invited Dan Korkowski and Randy Baumgardner, both running for Colorado House District 57, as well as Elizabeth Oldham, district attorney candidate for the 14th Judicial District, and Tom Gray and Saed Tayyara, Moffat County Commission incumbents running for re-election.
The race for the House
Although Korkowski and Baumgardner said they come from different backgrounds, they agreed with many of each other's points.
Baumgardner, 51, has owned and operated a ranch in Grand County for the past 14 years, but he also works for the Colorado Department of Transportation doing various labor and machine jobs.
Before that, he was a police officer for five years.
However, backgrounds don't mean much, Baumgardner said.
"I just want you all to know that I'm the best man for the job," he said. "I'll make the decisions you would make if you were elected."
Korkowski, 53, disagreed. He said where he comes from is very important.
As the code enforcement officer for Grand Lake, Korkowski said his experience writing and enforcing laws would be valuable for a state representative.
"I know somewhat what the process is," he said. "I know what to look for in state laws and what to be cautious about."
Korkowski also was a police officer for 17 1/2 years, he said, then he worked as a general construction laborer before owning a small business.
"I have different ways of looking at things from all different points of view," he said.
Despite the differences in personal history, though, both candidates took the same stances on several issues.
Both felt a Western Slope representative needs to protect local water rights, that the mountain pine beetle problem should be approached with incentives for private companies to harvest dead lumber and that oil and gas exploration should be allowed to progress quickly and smoothly.
However, each added that energy companies must be held accountable for any damage done to the land.
Baumgardner also said the right to bear arms and K-12 education are two of his highest priorities.
"We do have a right to keep and bear arms," he said. The government is "trying just as hard as they can to take that away from us."
Korkowski added health care would be a top goal during his state tenure.
"I don't want socialized medicine in any way, shape or form," he said. "We need to work together to attract doctors and health care professionals to this area."
Neither candidate could answer a question posed by Craig City Councilor Ray Beck, who asked what they would do to address the knotted problems of affordable housing, available work force and transportation.
As a CDOT employee with knowledge of the agency and transportation funding, Baumgardner said there are some issues he would look into right away.
Korkowski focused on affordable housing and work force, two factors he said affect everything else in a community.
He pointed to a 200-unit rental development in Rifle partially funded by local tax dollars and energy companies.
Korkowski said he thinks there should be more cooperation between government and private companies to develop housing in the same manner.
Baumgardner said he agreed that was a workable solution. He added that wage competition is important in establishing a viable middle class.
Both candidates said there have to be more opportunities for livable wages than energy industry jobs, and the key to that is vocational education.
One commissioner up
Moffat County Commissioner Tom Gray is the only commissioner running for re-election with an opposing candidate so far.
Craig resident Lois Wymore is running against Gray as a democrat.
Commissioner Saed Tayyara also appeared Wednesday. He is running unopposed.
Gray said many would-be politicians are businessmen or retired businessmen, but he doesn't think that is necessarily the best path to government service.
"Business is about growing and expanding what you have," he said. "That's not necessarily the role of government."
Gray said he would leave that choice to the voters.
In the same vein, he plans to continue his personal commitment to never advocate one way or the other about any issue that goes before the people.
"This is not about me," Gray said. "It's about service."
And for district attorney
Oldham, 36, gave much the same presentation she did earlier this month for the Craig Rotary Club.
She said she would instill three priorities for the District Attorney's Office.
Methamphetamine, Oldham said, must be purged from the community.
"It affects not just the addict, it affects families," she said. "Often times the children are taken away.
"It affects communities. Meth users often don't just commit the crime of possession. They can rob for their habit, and they sometimes commit violent crimes while on the drug."
However, Oldham does not want to sentence every user to prison.
"I understand the difference between an addict that must be held accountable, but also receive treatment at the same time, and the dealers that bring this into our community," she said.
In her 10 years as a prosecutor, Oldham said she has fought for strong criminal punishments for drug dealers and will continue to do the same as district attorney.
Her second priority is domestic violence.
Oldham advocated for a "fast-track" system currently installed in other places where a domestic violence offender receives swift prosecution so he or she can begin counseling and treatment.
"It's not a perfect solution," she said, "but it does seem to help with first offenders and end the cycle."
Her third goal for office is to overcome the apparent distrust for the district attorney within the community.
She plans to set up a citizen advisory board in each county the office serves - Moffat, Routt and Grand - with the intent each board will hold the District Attorney's Office accountable for its actions.
"I am here to bring about justice in my community," she said.