Moffat County Commission candidates had an opportunity to share their platforms and ideas with local voters Tuesday, a week before the Republican primary election.
That opportunity came in the form of the Craig Daily Press/KRAI candidate forum at the Centennial Mall, where the four commission candidates fielded a variety of questions.
Candidates were given an opportunity to make opening and closing statements and were asked several questions by a moderator.
District 3 candidate Frank Moe and incumbent Tom Mathers were asked how they would approach the issues of limiting taxes and/or adding services as a county commissioner.
Moe said Moffat County should “fight for our jobs and we need economic development.”
“We have been operating on a defensive philosophy,” he said. “We need to live within our budget, but we need to be going on the offense. We need to fight for our coal.”
Mathers agreed the county needs to fight for natural resources.
“There is not a business in Craig that would be here if it wasn’t for natural resources, because it spins off one-way or the other from that,” he said.
They were also asked what they would do to improve the relationship between the city of Craig and county governments.
Moe said he has “already done the ground work for this.”
“I have gone to the mayor, I have gone to other city council people and I have asked them, ‘What do we need to do for us?’” he said. “We are a team, Craig and Moffat County.”
Mathers said there is a “real misconception” that the county doesn’t get along with the city.
“It’s a bunch of hooey, the whole thing is,” he said. “We get along great right now, there is no problem.”
The candidates were also asked how county government could be involved in attracting new businesses to the area.
Mathers said the government’s role should be somewhat limited in attracting new businesses.
“Our job as county government is to get … out of the way and let these people come in and do away with the rules and the regulations that are overpowering and make it as easy as we can to move to Moffat County,” he said.
Moe said the county is “energy dependent” and the county needs to diversify its’ economy.
“Our energy jobs are under attack now, with tourism possibly being able to fill in,” he said. “I think our energy independence for Colorado and the U.S. needs to start here in Moffat County. We need to stand up and say, ‘Yes, we will diversify, yes we will be creative, but we want our coal jobs, we want our energy jobs.’”
District 2 candidates tackle tough topics
District 2 incumbent Audrey Danner and candidate Tony St. John also addressed the crowd Tuesday night.
When asked how she would approach the issues of limiting taxes and/or adding services as a county commissioner, Danner said the commission has “made some unpopular decisions” and there are “many more to come.”
“We have challenges coming our way that we will need to make some tough decisions on,” she said. “How have I responded to those? We have prioritized our services as commissioners now and we have talked with each other about what is a priority.”
St. John said if residents voted for him, he would work for them and “do my best.”
“I might get screamed at, I might get yelled at by someone disagreeing with the decision we are going to make or that I make,” he said.
But, he said, “the decision that I am going to make is in the best interest, I feel of the constituents and the citizens of Craig.”
Danner and St. John were also asked what they would do to improve the relationship between the city and the county.
St. John said he would “do my best to get the city and county together.”
“We are one,” he said. “We have to work for us and us means the county and the city. We should be close to one another and talking about the issues that are coming up so we can better our county and our city.”
Danner said she would continue to work with the city of Craig in the same manner “we are doing right now.”
“The commissioners meet with the city council, I do not see an adversarial relationship at all,” she said. “We do have differences of opinion at times.”
The candidates were also asked how county government should be involved in attracting new businesses to the area.
Danner said the county is “not charged with attracting” new businesses, and would leave the job to the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership and the Moffat County Tourism Association.
“We are charged with providing the funds and letting those commissions and boards do their work,” she said. “I would say economic development is as critical as ever and I sit on that board and … have supported those efforts.”
St. John said as commissioners, “we have to do our part.”
“We have the (Craig) Chamber of Commerce, we have what Audrey has talked about, that it doesn’t hurt us to try and do what we can do to talk to businesses,” he said. “We can make a difference, and that is what I believe that I would do if I was county commissioner.”