If you go…
What: Craig City Council and mayoral candidate forum
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: The Center of Craig, 601 Yampa Ave.
— The forum is being hosted by the Bears Ears Tea Party Patriots and is open to the public. For more information, call 824-0339.
A decade ago, local resident Jeanie Durham said she had a different view of local politics.
“Ten years ago it didn’t matter to me who was on city council, but it does now,” she said.
Durham, who has been involved with the Bears Ears Tea Party Patriots for about two years, said her involvement in politics stemmed from a simple concept.
“Just the wastefulness — that woke me up,” she said. “That fired me up. The wastefulness, the irresponsibility.”
Durham hopes the tea party can inspire just such a change in attitude in other residents through its continued work throughout the county.
An upcoming forum for Craig City Council and mayoral candidates organized by the tea party is another event driving toward that focus, Durham said.
“I think it is very important and people have woken up and are now wanting to get involved,” she said. “Not in a bad way, we just care. Ten years ago some of us didn’t care.”
The tea party will host a forum at 7 p.m., Thursday at the Center of Craig, 601 Yampa Ave., for the candidates running in April’s municipal election.
Tea party member Billie Jacobs said the city council and mayoral candidates will answer several prearranged questions, some of which may be exclusive to the council or exclusive to the mayor’s race.
The audience will be allowed to ask questions of the candidates if time allows, she said.
Three council seats currently held by Ray Beck, Joe Herod and Byron Willems are up for grabs in addition to the mayor’s position.
City council member Terry Carwile and resident Frank Moe have both picked up packets for the mayor’s position, city clerk Shirley Seely said.
So far, Beck, Willems, Joe Bird, Bill Johnston, Don Jones, Stephen Hinkemeyer and Tony Bohrer have all picked up council packets, Seely said.
However, Johnston recently announced in a letter to the editor of the Craig Daily Press that he would not return his nomination packet, thus dropping out of the race.
Johnston said he did not take the decision to drop out of the race for council lightly.
“I believe to serve my community well, I must answer a friend’s question to me, ‘Bill, where are you needed the most?’” he wrote in the letter. “And at this time I must concentrate on my current responsibilities to the citizens of Craig and the district I am employed to protect.”
Durham said there are several issues she thinks will play a prominent role in this year’s city election and might come up at the tea party’s forum.
“I think we have got some major issues that could cost us — save or cost us — dollars especially if you take the (Moffat County Public) Safety Center,” she said. “All the questions came from (what is being discussed) in the paper — tourism, the safety center.”
Durham said it was an easy decision for the tea party to take an active role in city politics.
“It was the public coming to us and addressing us as individuals and not as a group because there still is not an organized body,” she said of the tea party. “It is still just tax payers and voters meeting once a month and people are just calling us saying, ‘Hey, who do I vote for? What does this guy stand for?’
“I said, ‘I don’t know. Why don’t you ask them direct and find out. It is not for us to decide that for you.’”
Jacobs said the tea party feels like it can help better inform the community by hosting such forums.
“I think that one of the things that our tea party here in Moffat County wants to do is promote education in all of the different areas that pertain to our county whether it is the local city, or the county, or state (issues) that involve us,” she said.
Moreover, Jacobs said the tea party found out through the various forums hosted before last year’s elections there is “so much that the average, everyday person does not know about our politics.”
“By educating them and giving them a chance to be involved, it gives them a better idea of what is happening and what they can do to change it or keep it the same or whatever they want to do,” she said.
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