No suspense here: Mayor by a mile

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Don Jones

It's noon Tuesday, Election Day, when Craig Mayor Don Jones walks into JW Snacks for lunch. He orders a blackened catfish sandwich, fries and iced tea, and settles in for a conversation.

This could be any other day for the 56-year-old, longtime Craig resident, or at least any other mayoral election.

The polls at Centennial Mall opened five hours earlier, and within minutes the unopposed Jones likely secured his third consecutive term as the city's lead public servant.

There will be no Election Day drama or suspense, and the mayor has no problems with that.

"I think people have, I guess, respect enough and trust enough that I'm going to do a good job," he said, between sips of his tea.

Hours later, when the final tallies were reported, the mayor found himself with 574 votes, or 100 percent of the total votes cast for mayor. Jones and other election winners - four council candidates also were chosen Tuesday - will officially be sworn into office April 14.

At the end of his new term, Jones will have given 16 years of public office to the city. However, despite the time commitment the job requires and the small financial rewards it offers, he said he didn't have to think long when deciding whether to run again for mayor.

"A lot of times, when you put that many years in, you get burned out, tired," Jones said. "I still enjoy it. I still have fun. As long as you're having fun, and enjoying it and still doing a good job, why not continue?"

Jones, originally from Long Beach, Calif., has lived in Craig since 1958. He graduated from Moffat County High School in 1970, has co-owned a business, Craig Steel, for 30 years, and raised a family in the community.

His public service began with a City Council bid in 1995. He served 10 years - two four-year terms and a two-year term - before running for mayor in 2005.

Looking back on his time, Jones said there have been highs and lows.

A high: being mayor during last year's centennial celebration.

"Part of that reason is, when we came here in 1958, that was the 50th celebration, and I remember parts of that," he said. "So, I got to enjoy both of them."

And a low: a recall effort in the late 1990s, when six of seven council members - Jones included - were subject to a public vote on whether to end their terms.

"That was just hard because you got to meet your accusers," said Jones, adding that the recall failed by a wide margin."We got to see the list of people who wanted us recalled. And that kind of divided the town quite a bit. And it kind of hurt quite a bit.

"Other than that, I've really enjoyed" serving.

The city, Jones said, and City Council members have issues to deal with in the future.

The mayor mentioned tweaking subdivision and building regulations, updating a city traffic plan, planning for a sewer plant upgrade and continually monitoring city sales taxes, as items on the to-do list.

"That's part of the job," he said. "Challenges."

For now, Jones is content with fulfilling his final term. He makes no promises about running again, whether it be for Moffat County Commission, City Council or mayor.

"You never say never," he said.

He isn't as uncertain about a potential bid for the state Legislature, however.

"I wouldn't have any interest in that," Jones said. "Legislators are a different breed. You have to be a true politician."

And if there's one thing Jones doesn't consider himself to be, it's a politician.

"No, politicians, you know, are going to tell you what you want to hear. I'm not afraid to tell you how the cow ate the cabbage."

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 875-1791, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com.

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