Moffat County GOP chairman stepping down

Familiar name surfaces as possible replacement

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John Ponikvar

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Rick Barnes

A familiar face in Moffat County politics will soon step away from the post he volunteered to hold more than two years ago.

Craig resident John Ponikvar, chairman of the Moffat County Republican Central Committee, has decided not to run for re-election in two weeks when four committee seats will be up for grabs.

Ponikvar replaced former chairman Ron Danner in 2009. Ron stepped down from the position when his wife, Audrey, applied for the nomination to fill an empty position on the Moffat County Commission.

Ponikvar had previously been involved in the committee in various capacities before stepping in as chairman.

“My wife, Corrie, came home and said, ‘Nobody wants the position (and) we don’t know where to go,’” he said. “So, I said, ‘OK, I’ll take it over for the next two years, get you through the process here, and then that’s all I am going to do. Then, I’ll step aside.’”

Ponikvar kept to his intentions and said he no longer had the time to continue on as chairman between running his own business and his personal life.

“We just have other interests and there are times that you really have to be there,” he said.

During his two-year tenure as chairman, Ponikvar kept busy organizing various Republican functions, as well as assisting in the 2010 primary and general elections.

“It is a busy time and you are really involved in it and you are in contact with a lot of people,” he said of the election cycle. “Then, there are state meetings … then you have to be down at those state meetings and represent your county.”

The Republican Committee met Wednesday night to start the process of replacing Ponikvar as chairman.

At the meeting, Ponikvar said a nominating committee was formed, as outlined by the group’s bylaws, to solicit interest in the position.

Four positions are up for grabs, Ponikvar said, including chairman, vice-chairman, treasurer and secretary.

The election for chairman will take place Feb. 15 and will include all members of the committee including elected officials and precinct chairs, Ponikvar said. Nominations will be made by the committee and can be taken from the floor on election night.

“I think there is a lot more interest this time and I think that’s good,” Ponikvar said.

Any Republican in the community may be nominated for a position.

“So, we have people out there that want to be involved in the process and they’re not on the central committee now, so I expect some of those people will step forward,” Ponikvar said.

So far, Ponikvar only knows of one person interested in the position.

Moffat County resident Rick Barnes said he will seek nomination. He said his interest was spurred upon hearing Ponikvar wouldn’t seek another term.

“I said, ‘Fine, I’ll step up to the plate and see what we can get done,’” he said.

Barnes said one of his goals, if elected chairman, would be to help get “new blood” into the party.

“There’s not much interest in it anymore like there used to be,” he said. “We need to start drumming up younger kids.”

Moreover, Barnes said the more people involved in the political system, the better the chances “we can start getting our elected officials back on track of what their duties are, and what they aren’t.”

Barnes said the main reason he wants to be the county’s chairman is to avoid the “fiasco” he thinks happened during the last election cycle.

“The GOP party statewide was not backing who the people chose they wanted to be on the ballot for the governor, our senators, our representative — the backing wasn’t there,” he said. “The people chose who they wanted to be on the ballot and the Republican Party refused to back those people for reasons unknown.”

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