5 questions with city office candidates

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Byron Willems

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Joe Bird

Below is the first part of a question and answer series with each Craig City Council candidate who will appear on the April 7 municipal election ballot.

Among the answers given, voters will be able to find each candidate's account of how they have been involved in the community to this point, what drove them to seek public office and whether they believe the city operates smoothly now or should be changed.

The election will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 7 in Centennial Mall.

There are six candidates vying for four City Council seats: incumbents Terry Carwile, Byron Willems and Gene Bilodeau, who was appointed to fill a vacancy; and hopefuls Joe Bird, Francisco Reina and Jennifer Riley.

Three of the available Council seats carry four-year terms, while the fourth is for two years. The top four vote getters will all claim a seat, with the fourth taking the two-year term.

Mayor Don Jones is running unopposed for his third term.

Joe Bird

Age: 46

Occupation: Cook Chevrolet service manager

Time lived in Craig: Almost five years

Public service history: An active member of the Boys & Girls Club of Craig board and Craig Chamber of Commerce board; also active with Colorado Northwestern Community College developing the diesel automotive school. With the Chamber, I am the liaison with the Moffat County Tourism Association and with the Chamber Ambassadors. I also served a two-year-plus term on the Young Life board.

Why are you running for municipal office?

To give back to the community that has been such a benefit to my family and me. I was taught to leave things in better shape than the way I found them, and I believe that I can work as part of a team with whomever to make the decisions needed to keep Craig moving forward.

What is the single biggest issue Craig faces today, or will face over the next four years?

Keeping the sales tax revenue moving forward so that the infrastructure of Craig can be maintained and pertinent services be continued for the taxpayers.

Do you believe the city needs to change or alter any of its operations or policies? Why or why not?

I believe that for me to give an opinion regarding this question without communicating with and getting input from department heads, seeing and evaluating processes and gaining input from the voters would not be a fair assessment on my part. I do believe anything can be made to flow easier (streamline) with willingness, processes and effort made by all without compromising standards of quality.

What is your view about how local government should operate?

That we are responsible and affect a lot of people with the decisions that are made. That is why all areas of the government need to 1) communicate effectively; 2) be educated and gain input before making a decision; and 3) not allow feelings to cloud judgment when dealing with other people's lives and money.

If you could say one thing to every local voter concerning your campaign, what would it be?

I want to serve in any way possible the community that has been good to me, and to help Craig continue in its prosperity. I have the abilities to help facilitate progression of the community now, during tough times, but also know that with us working together, we would have something of value and worth that everyone is proud to pass on. I would like to be a part of that with all of you.

Byron Willems

Age: 50

Occupation: Craig Fire & Safety owner

Time lived in Craig: 48 years, since 1961

Public service history:

• Craig City Council, one term

• Craig Fire/Rescue, 23 years

• Colorado State Fire Fighters Association Executive Board, eight years, including time served as president

• Craig Rural Fire Protection District board, 7 years, including current term as president

Why are you running for municipal office?

I have enjoyed serving the taxpayers for the last four years and would like to serve four more years. Local government (City Council) runs the way government was originally designed to be run. You represent your neighbor and your conscience.

What is the single biggest issue Craig faces today, or will face over the next four years?

With the possibility of declining revenues, we must try to maintain our current level of services to the taxpayer while still planning for the future and keeping our biggest assets - our employees.

Do you believe the city needs to change or alter any of its operations or policies? Why or why not?

Yes. All operations and policies must always be updated and improved. Nothing is perfect.

What is your view about how local government should operate?

Local government is a lot like successfully running a business or household.

• First, set a realistic budget and then live within that budget.

- We must always reinvest in our infrastructure - such as building a new water plant, updating needed equipment, paving more roads, etc. You have to do these projects to keep a healthy and growing city.

- Always live within your means. We must continue to do a good job of that.

- Continue to keep emergency carryover funds in each department - this is your rainy day fund just in case times get bad. It's no different than your home or business, you need savings for a rainy day. The City Council continues to budget conservatively, and in return, we end the year with more than we expected. This is good business sense.

• Second, take care of your employees and they will take care of you.

- We have a solid and reliable city workforce. From top to bottom, they do a great job. Our city runs smoothly because of a great workforce.

- We have very little turnover in employees - not too many jobs can say that.

• Third, encourage responsible growth.

- If we are not growing, we are dying.Growth is very important.

- This City Council has always encouraged responsible growth.

• Fourth, don't forget the customer - in this case, that is you, the taxpayers.

- We should be responsible and do the right thing.

- City Council must always think of what is best overall for our city.

- I think the record speaks for itself. Your City Council has been good stewards of your city.

If you could say one thing to every local voter concerning your campaign, what would it be?

If you agree that the current City Council has done a good job for you, the taxpayer - then think of that when you vote. Thanks, and I appreciate your support.

Questions submitted by Daily Press writer Collin Smith. He can be reached at 875-1794 or cesmith@craigdailypress.com.

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