Craig City Council candidate Joe Bird addresses an audience of more than 50 residents Thursday as part of a forum hosted by the Bears Ears Tea Party Patriots at The Center of Craig. Council candidates Bird, Byron Willems, Ray Beck, Tony Bohrer and Don Jones spoke, as well as mayoral candidates Terry Carwile and Frank Moe. Council candidate Stephen Hinkemeyer was absent due to medical reasons.

Photo by Brian Smith

Craig City Council candidate Joe Bird addresses an audience of more than 50 residents Thursday as part of a forum hosted by the Bears Ears Tea Party Patriots at The Center of Craig. Council candidates Bird, Byron Willems, Ray Beck, Tony Bohrer and Don Jones spoke, as well as mayoral candidates Terry Carwile and Frank Moe. Council candidate Stephen Hinkemeyer was absent due to medical reasons.

Mayoral, council contenders make case to Craig voters

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Candidates for Craig City Council and Craig mayor fielded a variety of questions during a forum Thursday night that lasted for more than two hours. Candidates discussed a range of issues, including the Moffat County Public Safety Center, the future of area tourism, and economic viability.

Voter registration deadline looming

Craig City Clerk Shirley Seely said the deadline for residents who want to participate in this year’s city election is soon approaching.

The deadline for residents to register to vote in the April 5 city council and mayoral election is Monday.

Currently, there are 5,907 registered voters in the city. Since January, 32 new residents have registered to vote.

Of the city’s voters, however, only 3,110 are active and will receive a ballot to vote in the election, said Lila Herod, Moffat County Clerk and Recorder.

To activate, register or update voter status, visit www.govotecolorad... or stop by the Moffat County elections department inside the Moffat County Courthouse, 221 W. Victory Way.

Residents from all political affiliations may vote in the municipal election because it is non-partisan, Seely said.

The city will begin mailing out ballots to active city voters March 14.

“We will be getting them out as soon as we can,” Seely said.

Although this election is in a mail ballot format instead of a single polling place, residents can return their ballot to one of two drop boxes between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. at either the courthouse or Craig City Hall, 300 W. Fourth St.

Ballots must be returned no later than 7 p.m. April 5. Ballots need to be mailed by at least April 1 in order for them to be received by Election Day, Seely said.

Today marks the deadline for residents to return candidate nomination packets for city council and mayor.

Three council seats currently held by Ray Beck, Joe Herod and Byron Willems are up for grabs in the election in addition to the mayor’s position.

So far, Beck, Willems, Joe Bird, Don Jones, Stephen Hinkemeyer and Tony Bohrer have picked up council packets. Council member Terry Carwile and local resident Frank Moe have picked up packets to run for mayor.

Reader poll

How will the decision to make April’s municipal election an all mail-in ballot affect your likelihood to vote?

  • I am more likely to vote because of it. 28%
  • I am less likely to vote because of it. 10%
  • I would have voted either way. 52%
  • I would not have voted either way. 10%

145 total votes.

More than 50 residents listened Thursday in hopes of learning the thoughts and feelings of several candidates vying for Craig public office.

Those residents sat for more than two hours in The Center of Craig during a Bears Ears Tea Party Patriots meeting to hear from five candidates for Craig City Council and two for mayor.

Candidates who attended were council candidates Byron Willems, Ray Beck, Tony Bohrer, Don Jones and Joe Bird. Mayoral candidates Frank Moe and Terry Carwile also attended.

Council candidate Stephen Hinkemeyer was absent for medical reasons.

Candidates were asked about a variety of issues, from the Moffat County Public Safety Center, to the future of tourism and business in Craig.

Carwile said he has been active in the community and his experience makes him the “best candidate” for mayor.

“I am knowledgeable, experienced, have proven leadership ability, and am fully engaged in local issues and I stay abreast of state and federal issues, especially when they have an impact on our local community,” he said.

“I have an excellent working relationship with city staff and am forming good relationships with other leaders in the region.”

Carwile was asked if he was in favor of constructing a new building for the Craig Police Department considering negotiations between the city and Moffat County Commission have yet to produce an agreement.

He said he would prefer all law enforcement entities stay in the safety center.

“I want us to stay in the same building, but I want to make the best decision for the taxpayers as well,” he said. “I’m a taxpayer, too. There’s plenty of work to do there.”

Moe said the reasons he decided to run for Craig mayor were “hard to say in two minutes.”

He recalled a trip he made to Denver to testify before a state board regarding a recent issue about emission controls at the Craig Station.

“I stood in front of a crowd of about 150 people because I believe in our community, I believe in coal, I believe in energy and I believe in the environment,” he said.

Moe said he was running on principals of “cooperation” and when asked about the safety center issue, he said he would like to see compromise from the two sides.

“What the people have told me is that they want it there, they voted for it there, and it needs to stay there,” he said.

“It can’t be the city of Craig wins and Moffat County loses, it can’t be vice-versa, it needs to be the community and the tax payers win,” he said.

Council candidates mull issues

Bohrer, a first-time candidate, said he doesn’t have an agenda if elected to the council. Rather, he is “all about making Craig a better spot,” he said.

“I want to help direct it so that when my little girl is my age, she has a city that is worth living in,” he said. “I’m not saying that it is going to be bad in 10 or 15 years, but I want to be able to put my two cents into it to be able to say, ‘Hey, I had my hand in it to lead us to this direction.’”

Bohrer was asked to describe relationship barriers between the city and county that hinder economic growth.

Bohrer said arguments between the two governments are about money, most of the time. Instead, he said he wants the two sides to compromise and be “in it to work together.”

“We need to work together, no matter how we want to put it,” he said. “I have family that lives in the county and I have family that lives in the city. Work together — we are not against each other.”

Willems, an incumbent councilor, said he felt the council has done a “great job” during the six years he has been on city council and also in previous years thanks to the city’s staff.

“I’ve enjoyed city council, I like working with a team that works well and the city runs well,” he said. “Sure, we have our little bumps in the road, but everything runs well and I hope we can continue doing that. Whatever council you have, I hope they do a good job of being the stewards of your money.”

Willems was also asked to describe the city and county’s relationship. He said if people perceive a problem, then there is one.

“It is not an easy discussion with the county,” he said. “I’d be lying to you if I said, ‘Boy, we get along great with the county,’ but we don’t. That’s tough, but we have to work on it all the time.”

Beck said he takes his position on the council “seriously” and has tried to be involved in the community as much as possible during his four-year tenure. He said he feels council is more than “just sitting on the bench.”

“I think in four years I probably missed two meetings with legitimate reasons for not being there,” he said.

“I do read my packets and attend all the meetings and study that information so I am informed when I go to the council meetings,” he said.

Beck was asked if he favored the expansion of Colorado Northwestern Community College. He said he did, adding a scholarship he helped develop has opened opportunities for area students to attend college.

“We are proud of our college and what they are doing up there on the hill,” he said. “I think it is going to be a great asset.”

Jones said he still has “a lot of good ideas,” and “a lot of energy” to serve again on council after six years of being mayor and since starting on council in 1995.

“Since then, we have grown and we have grown well,” he said. “We have got a great working relationship with the current council, the last couple councils, city staff and I believe with the community. I’m really proud of that.”

Jones was asked what steps he would take to help further oil, gas and coal developments in the area.

He said the community has seen booms and busts from the energy industry before, but natural resources need to continue to be developed in new ways.

“There is a lot of technology out there and I think we should try to utilize clean coal technology, use the college to help us do that,” he said. “(Let’s) use what we have here to increase our natural resources.”

Bird said he wanted to work with city council and other agencies to “be effective” for residents.

“I want to keep building for the future,” he said. “We want to make sure that we have something that is viable that we are passing on to our kids. I think I can help bring that aspect to it and bring the positive attitude and the teamwork all of us will need to be able to make that happen.”

Bird was also asked what he would do to help natural resource development in the area. He said oil, coal and natural gas need to be utilized in “any way, shape or form that they can be.”

“I think we need to be thinking outside the box,” he said. “Not only to just put it all in one industry, but to broaden our scope on where we can put viable resources to keep providing Craig people and Moffat County people and the surrounding areas with electricity … but also keep those people working.”

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