City candidates answer questions for Craig Daily Press

The eight candidates in next month’s Craig municipal election — two for mayor and six for city council — recently answered questions for the Craig Daily Press. The interviews with each candidate are below.

Mayoral candidates

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Terry Carwile

Terry Carwile

Age: 63

Occupation: Retired from Trapper Mine

Years in Craig: Since 1976

Past political experience: Second term on the Craig City Council

Civic organizations: Chairman of the Bears Ears Sportsman Club Board for three years in the late 1970s and early 80s; Museum of Northwest Colorado Board for eight years during the 1990s and into the 2000s, including a stint as board chairman; Moffat County Planning Commission from early 2003 to 2005; Yampa River Basin Partnership member in the early 2000s; current Yampa Valley Partners Board chairman; current member of the Wildlife Management Public Education Advisory Council.

Q: What prompted you to run for mayor?

A: Since our current mayor is term limited and I am in my second term on council, it is a logical step for me to take. I have the knowledge, ability and a desire for the job.

Q: You’re a well-established Democrat. Most of the voters in Craig are Republican. Although this is a non-partisan election, do you believe there would be a conflict of ideals between your political beliefs and those of most of your constituents?

A: I am not affiliated with any political party. We’ve heard Gov. (John) Hickenlooper make reference to the fact that people have grown weary of partisan politics. I strongly believe that this is true. Our city council is a form of government devoid of partisan debate. Our council members are very pragmatic in their approach to government and strive for common sense decisions to the issues and challenges we face.

In the upcoming election, no one will see a reference to any political party. I think voters appreciate that there is at least one election that is not partisan in its nature.

Q: You helped spearhead efforts to approve the 6.9-percent lodging tax proposal in the November 2010 general election. It failed by a 1,993 to 767 margin. As mayor, would you again push for placing the lodging tax on the ballot?

A: To a great extent, the lodging tax question was about economic development and diversification, both of which our community needs. All ideas in that regard should be considered and I hope we visit that idea again in the future. We’ve recently seen a couple of other ideas about lodging tax that came from community members. Perhaps that’s where the next idea should come from. I will be happy to be part of future conversations.

Q: You’ve been a member of the Craig City Council for six years, and are running for mayor in April’s election as the term of current mayor Don Jones is expiring. Is your candidacy more than just another example of governmental musical chairs?

A: Don Jones ran unopposed in his campaign for mayor in 2005 after a long tenure on council. His desire to serve as mayor is testimony to his commitment to our community. I possess the same commitment and I regard local government as the most important form of representation to local citizens. It bears no resemblance to a child’s game.

Q: If elected, what specifically would you do to make the City of Craig a better place for residents and businesses by the end of this year?

A: It is the responsibility of every Craig resident to make our city a better place to live and do business. I will continue to promote our community wherever I go and tell everyone with whom I interact that Craig is a great place to live.

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Frank Moe

Frank Moe

Age: 58

Occupation: Hotel owner and developer

Years in Craig: 23.5

Past political experience: Republican candidate for Moffat County Commissioner in District 1

Civic organizations: American Hotel Lodging Association; Audubon Society; Club 20; Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association; Craig Chamber of Commerce; Craig/Moffat Economic Development; Ducks Unlimited; Humane Society of Moffat County, one of the founding members of the local chapter; Moffat County Tourism Association for 20 years; Mule Deer Association; National Rifle Association; Northwest Colorado Snowmobile Club; Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation; Wild Turkey Federation; Boys & Girls Club of Craig; Boys and Girls Scouts of America; Childreach; Craig Swim Meets; Craig Youth Hockey; Craig Youth Baseball; High School Rodeo Association; Hayden Chamber of Commerce; Little Britches Rodeo; Love In the Name of Christ, Inc.; Maybell Cultural Heritage Group; Maybell Women’s Club; Moffat County Education Association; Moffat County Wrestling; Parrot Head Club; PetSmart Charities; Red Cross; Salvation Army; Special Olympics; The Memorial Hospital Foundation; Women’s National Barrel Racing; Wyman Winter Festival; XMR Racing; Yampa Valley Partners; Yampa Valley Golf Course.

Q: What prompted you to run for mayor?

A: I love Craig and Moffat County. Both have been good to me and my wife, and I felt since I am in the position to give of my time and successful business experience, I should give back to the community. Also, after having taken the opportunity to walk the 55 miles through Craig during my commissioner campaign, seeing firsthand the harsh realities that a stalled and tenuous economy have taken on our community, plus hearing from so many residents regarding their concerns for this area and wanting their voices to be heard, I feel I am in a good position to address those needs.

In addition, when Tri State Generation & Transmission and their Craig Station representatives requested support from the Moffat County Commission, Craig City Council and the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership in regards to the Air Quality Control Commission hearings in Denver this past December, the week before Christmas, unfortunately some were unable to drop everything on such short notice to attend those hearings, and testify and advocate for one of our area’s largest employers.

Fortunately, I have that kind of flexibility with my job as an owner of my own business. My wife and I did drop everything to make a plane with less than a half an hour’s notice, go down to Denver, testified before the commission, pleading for the people and jobs of this area, and spoke with several of the people on the air quality control board.

These kinds of skills, flexibility, and business experiences afford me the qualities necessary to deal proactively with issues before they arise on a local level, so they can be handled with the greatest chance of success.

Q: You have never held public office before, and you ran an unsuccessful campaign for Moffat County Commissioner, and now you’re running for mayor. Why not run for Craig City Council or the Moffat County School Board to gain experience in an elected office first?

A: Although I won the Republican Party Caucus, I was only 49 votes shy out of over 2,000 votes cast in winning the Republican primary, and ultimately the commissioner’s seat for District 1. I feel my campaign was successful for the people of Moffat County.

Besides walking the 55 miles of the streets of Craig and educating myself regarding the needs of the community, my platform was also about open lines of communication, respect for those with opposing views, and becoming proactive by taking the offense (as opposed to always playing defense) when dealing with local, state, and federal issues. This message has been embraced and is being played out daily.

When Gov. John Hickenlooper was here last week at the State of the County and city dinner, he said he had never run for any public office before he ran for Denver mayor, which he won. He felt being a successful businessperson and entrepreneur and never holding public office before was an advantage and reason for his success as mayor.

His successful business foundation also propelled him to the position of governor of Colorado. He alluded to the fact that sometimes politicians can become so entrenched in their way of thinking, so inflexible regarding their party and issues, that as public representatives they have outlived their usefulness.

All the people that serve our community, whether in the public, private or in the non-profit arena, are making our community a better place. People serve based on their available time, skills, and other factors, and seek out where they think they can help the most. This is exactly what I have done. I know what it is like to develop and build a business from the ground up, and to take it successfully through lean and plush times, and those skills will give me an advantage in this position.

Q: You were part of the Moffat County Tourism Association Board for two decades. There are many who believe MCTA has been ineffective. How do you feel about your time spent on MCTA, and what do you feel you could have done better?

A: I was heavily involved in getting the Moffat County tourism tax passed. The state of Colorado had ceased much of its tourism funding in 1988 so counties within the state were given the option of creating a tourism tax with the guidelines the tax would be used for tourism only. At the time, I was the general manager of the Holiday Inn, which at that time was owned by P.E.R.A. They supported the campaign efforts in time and resources to get this tourism tax passed on the local ballot for the benefit of all of Moffat County residents.

The first year with the lodging tax in place, approximately $18,000 was generated. That money would calculate to approximately $1 million in lodging revenues. In the early years of growing the tourism industry locally, there was very little interest or participation from the general public, the newspaper, or other groups.

At the peak of the lodging tax receipts in 2008, the Moffat County lodging tax produced $164,000. These figures translate to approximately $8 million in lodging revenues throughout Moffat County. So, the lodging market locally has grown from approximately $1 million to approximately $8 million. Again, in tax dollars that translates to an increase from approximately $18,000 to approximately $164,000. That is an 800-percent increase in 20 years. Granted the lodging industry is made up of business and leisure markets, but these figures are impressive.

Any business, whether private or public, would be proud of these results. The MCTA group of current and past board members, as well as current, and past commissioners, should be commended for all their hard work and diligence in striving to do what is best for all of Moffat County tourism. Sadly, I do not believe MCTA over the years has gotten the recognition it deserves for promoting all of Moffat County, and all the event sponsorships it has endorsed, carried, and supported.

I seriously question the validity and motives of the naysayers regarding the MCTA boards and its accomplishments. In retrospect, I believe MCTA should have made the efforts necessary to take the credit that it is due, and to have taken the time to proudly promote all the events it has been responsible for promoting, and to have published the annual report detailing those results. As in anything, education is the key, and it would have been prudent for all the past MCTA boards to have made the effort to utilize public relation mediums in this process, and to not have just solely concentrated on outside tourism marketing. Had these efforts be made, then there would be no room for questioning MCTA’s successes.

Q: After you were defeated in the 2010 primary election, your wife, Kerry, ran for the same seat as a write-in candidate, also losing. Kerry also played a prominent role in your campaign. If we vote for you, are we getting Frank Moe as mayor or Frank and Kerry Moe as mayor?

A: I did not win the 2010 Republican primary election for county commissioner for District 1, but my platform lives on.

In Kerry’s press release as a write-in candidate, she stated, “My goal is to help ensure that the vision and changes that almost 50 percent of the Republican voters in this community endorsed in our recent primary, can be realized.”

I am running for mayor so the goals and the desires stated by this community can be realized.

I was very supportive of Jean White’s selection to replace her husband, Al, as state senator even though Al White held the position and made the votes, etc. In all successful marriages, husbands and wives help each other, support each other, discuss issues together, and give opinions, and are many times equally educated together regarding pertinent issues, etc.

Everyone in the community knows that Kerry and I are co-owners and co-managers of the Best Western Plus Deer Park Inn and Suites. We both designed the building and business together. Our success as businesspeople and as a married couple are based on a mutual love, respect, and sound business principles. We look to each other for support, encouragement, and advice. I feel that not many marriages can replicate the same success that we have had, even after 26 years.

Q: If elected, what specifically would you do to make the City of Craig a better place for residents and businesses by the end of this year?

A: Help prioritize goals and objectives that will make Craig stronger and more attractive to business and residential development.

Help resolve the safety center issue. What the people have told me is that they want all the law enforcement entities in there. It can’t be the city of Craig wins and Moffat County loses, nor vice-versa, in the resolution. It needs to be the community and the taxpayers that win. I will embrace the basic philosophy of our new governor and bring it to local issues. Namely, non-partisan politics. I will work for what is best for all of Craig and Moffat County residents. I will strive to not get mired down in the pitfalls of seasoned politics, and stay flexible to the needs of the community.

I will also embrace our local EDP plan in regards to promoting, growing and expanding our local economy. I will be one of its strongest advocates to get the plan put into action.

Listen to the needs of not only our community, but the needs of our city manager and the department heads that he represents, as well as other council members.

Help raise the “bar” (standards of) expectations for the overall success of Craig, whether it be through communications, treatment of others, levels of professionalism, and presentation of our community to the outside world.

Council candidates

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Ray Beck

Ray Beck

Age: 60

Occupation: Retired

Years in Craig: 32

Past political experience: One term as a city council member

Civic organizations: Yampa Valley Economic Development Commission for four years, chairman for two years, and vice chairman currently; Craig/Moffat County Airport Advisory Board for four years, chairman for three years, vice chairman currently; Yampa Valley Regional Airport Commission for four years, vice chairman for one year, and chairman currently; Moffat County Balloon Committee chairman for two years; Club 20 member for five years, elected board member for Craig and Moffat County for two years, and membership chairman for one year; Club 20 executive board for two years; Northwest Energy steering committee for one year; and Colorado Municipal League member for four years.

Q: What prompted you to run for city council?

A: I have enjoyed the many benefits and pleasures of living in Craig over the years, which are in part due to the actions and decisions made by past council members. It is my desire to have an impact on present and future citizens who will express an appreciation for the community they live in due in part to my participation, involvement and decision making as a council member.

Q: In some circles you were mentioned as a possible candidate for mayor. Why did you decide against seeking this more prominent role? Is a mayoral candidacy in your future plans?

A: I contend that decisions need to be well thought out and are first made and discussed with your spouse and how they may impact you and your family. I also felt that I could serve the community just as well as a council member because no matter what position or title you have, you still have a voice at the table. I also believe in paying my dues should I ever consider running for mayor.

Q: What accomplishments have you had in four years as a council member that we could credit to you as the driving force?

A: I believe that a leader should lead by example and being involved in my community is just as important as sitting at a council meeting twice a month making decisions. As a city council member, I have had the opportunity to be involved in other organizations that allow me to represent Craig and Moffat County.

I helped establish the first annual Moffat County Balloon Festival. Because of an incredibly dedicated and hard-working committee, it appears the upcoming balloon festival this year will be even more successful. I helped create and sponsor the Citizens Academic Scholarship, which encourages and helps provide local high school graduates with financial assistance to attend Colorado Northwestern Community College in Craig.

I assisted in writing a marketing plan for Club 20, which is a bipartisan organization representing 22 counties in Western Colorado. I assisted in providing information to the Craig Planning and Zoning Commission two years ago for possible land/use code changes. I supported the medical marijuana ordinance, the ATV ordinance, and voted no on the lodging tax (percentage).

Q: You’re the liaison between the city and county. Recently, that relationship has come under criticism. Why do you think that is, and what have you done to improve that relationship?

A: Our local governments have two very different styles of governance and in some respects our needs are very different. The Moffat County Commissioners and the Craig City Council will never agree on all the issues that come before us and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

As elected officials, we have been entrusted to manage taxpayers’ money. I will not make a decision for the sake of making a decision until all the options and terms have been presented.

The Moffat County Public Safety Center is no different than any other partnership we have and I have been entrusted to make the best decision possible. By the same token, we all live in the same box and it is imperative that the local elected officials continue to work together for the best interests of the taxpayers.

The last four years I have served as the city representative to the Craig/Moffat County Airport Advisory Board as chairman. This position has allowed me to work with the county and contribute towards a positive working relationship.

I was instrumental in establishing a new airport terminal building, getting the parking lot resurfaced and organizing the Craig Air Fest in 2008 for Craig’s Centennial. I also serve as the county and city representative to the Yampa Valley Regional Airport Commission as chairman. This role has allowed me to foster relationships with Routt County and represent our city and county to an airport that impacts our whole region.

Q: If elected, what specifically would you do to make the City of Craig a better place for residents and businesses by the end of this year?

A: I will continue to be involved in the community, support economic development, tourism and shop locally. I will continue to research the issues and prepare myself so I can make informed decisions that impact our community. My pledge to you will be to serve and represent the taxpayers to the best of my ability.

As your elected official, this is a role I take seriously and will continue to do so if re-elected. My desire is to promote all aspects of Craig at the local, state and federal levels whenever the opportunity may arise, whether it is tourism, our natural resources, transportation or economic development.

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Joe Bird

Joe Bird

Age: 47

Occupation: Service manager, Cook Chevrolet

Years in Craig: Almost seven

Past political experience: None

Civic organizations: Craig Chamber of Commerce from 2007 to current and 2010 as board president; Boys & Girls Club of Craig Board from 2008 to current; Colorado Northwestern Community College advisor for diesel automotive school and organizer in program development; Bear River Young Life Board for two years; Doves Nest Foundation for three years as vice president; Chamber liaison with Moffat County Tourism Association for two years; Chamber liaison with Ambassadors for one year.

Q: What prompted you to run for city council?

A: I was brought up to be part of a solution to problems, not the cause. I was also taught that if you want things to have a positive result, then you need to be willing to give of yourself and invest the time to serve others.

Q: What makes you qualified to run the city without prior experience in elected office?

A: I believe that I have started from the ground up in serving at various positions since moving here to be able to get a grasp of what is going on, and have developed relationships in the process. I am not trying to go from zero to a hundred without working my way up and putting in my time (if you will) and I will be present at what is needed, from council meetings and community events, to be able to continue listening and serve the community.

Q: You ran unsuccessfully for a city council seat in 2009. Why should voters respond differently in this election?

A: To me, unsuccessfully is the same word as failure. It just means you quit trying. I believe it just wasn’t the right timing, and I think that people now know my heart, attitude and desires for not only helping overcome obstacles, but to build strong foundations in things that not only benefit my family, but all those who live in Craig and Moffat County.

Q: You have lived in Craig a relatively short period of time. Have you been here long enough to truly understand the critical issues facing the city, some of which require a historical knowledge?

A: I believe that it is someone’s duty to ask questions and to gain information before making a decision. Historical knowledge, as you worded it, is good if it is getting used as knowledge and not as interpretation.

I know that I might have been around for a short time to some (almost seven years), but I actually think that I can help when trying to bring fresh perspective and ideas to the table for the betterment of the community and its families.

Q: If elected, what specifically would you do to make the City of Craig a better place for residents and businesses by the end of this year?

A: Work hard at establishing good working relationships with entities so that honest conversations can take place without stopping forward momentum or feeling the need to delay conversations and progress. Use whatever season we have that allows us to make Craig look better and help create a fun and enjoyable atmosphere.

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Tony Bohrer

Tony Bohrer

Age: 28

Occupation: Pastor/ general manager of Elkhorn Outfitters

Years in Craig: 28

Past political experience: None

Civic organizations: Craig Ministerial Alliance for three years; one of Moffat County and City of Craig chaplains for three years

Q: What prompted you to run for city council?

A: A couple of different reasons have helped me make my choice. I had some people come and tell me that it would be a good idea for me to run and they would support me if I ran for city council. The most important reason I am running for city council is that I love this city and believe in this city with all my heart. I have said it a lot the past few weeks, but I am convinced that Craig’s best is not behind us, it is ahead of us. I want to be a part of helping Craig develop to its full potential.

Q: You’re a pastor at the Apostolic Lighthouse Church. How would your spiritual beliefs factor into your decision-making as a city council member?

A: I knew this question would come up. I don’t think me being a pastor is going to have a negative affect on how I will vote. Taking away the title of pastor, I can say just as a Christian like a lot of people in this town I am going to lean toward the conservative side. Being a pastor doesn’t have much to do with it. It is about being a follower of Christ. I guess what I am trying to say is if my title as pastor was taken away, I would still be a Christian and viewpoints or decisions I would have to make on the city council would be the same.

I can promise everybody one thing — every time I vote I am going to vote with the mindset of, is this going to make Craig a better place?

Q: What makes you qualified to run the city without prior experience in elected office?

A: I would like to start off with saying everybody on the city council now or before started their tenure without prior experience in an elected office as a city council member.

I feel like I have a lot to offer. As a pastor and running a church, you have to work with a budget that varies from week to week. You are running your budget on the hope people will make it to church on Sunday or Wednesday. I feel like in this area I will be able to help because of my experience with budgeting.

Being manager at Elkhorn during this economic hardship, Dick the owner and I have learned how to think outside the box.

“What worked yesterday doesn’t mean it is going to work today and what works today doesn’t mean it is going to work tomorrow.” Growing up here, I have seen a lot of businesses come and go and I think when we start thinking outside the box, we will see my generation and the next generation come and start businesses and never leave. There is no reason people that grew up here need to move to another town and start businesses or work for someone else when we have opportunities here.

Q: As a pastor, you lead a congregation. City council members, ideally, work as a group. Do you believe you have the ability to work as part of a collective?

A: Yes, I do. Even though I pastor the church I still have a church board that meets once a month. You could say I am the mayor and they are the councilmen of the local assembly. The Bible says, “In the multitude of counselors there is safety.”

I am the youth president of Colorado in our organization. I serve on a board with four sectional leaders, a secretary, and a promotional director. It is set up very similar to the city council. We conduct three major events a year with 45 churches involved.

I am also privileged to serve as a regional director, and I oversee California, Arizona, New Mexico, and part of Texas. I sit on a national board with all the youth presidents in the U.S. and Canada. We sit in board meetings as a whole. We put on events as Youth Congress, where 20,000 young people will gather together for service.

I feel like my experience on a local board, state board and a national board gives me the ability to work well with others and different points of view. It takes compromise sometimes, but when you have a group of people that are all working toward the same goals, it is easy.

Q: If elected, what specifically would you do to make the City of Craig a better place for residents and businesses by the end of this year?

A: I do have some things in mind. I first want everybody to understand that when you sit on a board, you are one voice to the board. I say this because someone on the board can have a great idea, and if the other board members don’t agree, it will not pass. I just don’t want to make promises that I cannot keep.

However, here are some ideas.

I would like to help promote the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership. To let people know that Craig does have classes and help groups to help them start a business in this great city. This is a great tool, if it’s used. I feel like there is not too many people that know about this.

Then, by the end of the year, I have said this once already, but I would like to hear from the people that I am representing in this city. I want to know their concerns and what is on their mind. To make Craig a better place, we are going to have to hear from all kinds of different people and learn how to put our differences aside and work together.

Craig is full of people that have some really good ideas and it is time to get them to share their ideas.

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Stephen Hinkemeyer

Stephen Hinkemeyer

Age: 52

Occupation: Production/engineer manager, Trapper Mine

Years in Craig: 29

Past political experience: None

Civic organizations: Moffat County Land Use Board (minerals/mining) for eight years; Northwest Colorado Stewardship for three years; Moffat County Master Plan Committee for two years; Sage Grouse Working Group for eight years.

Q: What prompted you to run for city council?

A: My primary reason was the inability of the Craig City Council and the Moffat County Commissioners not coming to an agreement on the Moffat County Public Safety Center rental or purchase. It was upsetting reading that the city council was thinking about investigating building a new police building. I thought to myself, as a taxpayer, how many law enforcement facilities are needed, and how many should I have to pay for.

Reading about the discussions in the newspaper, I realized there are probably other factors involved than just the simple ones I gathered from the articles I read.

I thought that I could either remain uninvolved on the sidelines and just wait to see what the outcome was, or I could roll up my sleeves and dig in and see what the other considerations were and try to help the city make the best possible decision.

Q: What makes you qualified to run the city without prior experience in elected office?

A: I have lived in the City of Craig longer than I have lived anywhere else in my life. I have seen the boom and bust economies of the past and how it has affected not only the operations of the city, but the residents as well.

That aside, I have worked at two of the largest employers in Moffat County, Trapper Mine and Colowyo Coal Co., and have held many varying positions within both of those companies that would allow me to help make more informed decisions on ideas brought forward by city staff, and to identify any and all alternatives before decisions are made.

I have an engineering background and have evaluated many financial decisions regarding things like equipment replacement or repair. I have identified and analyzed alternatives, other than those proposed, which have helped those companies make better informed decisions. I have put together and analyzed many financial budgets, similar to those put together by the city.

All things considered, the city is just a business that provides services for those living within its boundaries.

Q: How much research have you done into the city’s finances and operations — including attending council meetings — and what insights would you bring to the office?

A: I have not had the chance to dig into the city’s finances and operations as of yet. I hope to have that chance before the election on April 5. I have only had the opportunity to attend one city council meeting so far since picking up my candidate package, but have researched the meeting minutes of the past several months to get a flavor for what the council has been up to lately. If elected, I will dig into the business of the city, and will be up to full speed quickly.

Q: You’ve mentioned the Moffat County Public Safety Center negotiations as one of your primary concerns. Once that issue is resolved, what’s left of your platform?

A: I don’t really think of myself as having a platform. I look at it as having some broad term goals, such as aiding communications and assisting with better cooperation between our elected officials, helping the council make better informed decisions by identifying alternatives to solutions proposed by the city staff, to see that all alternatives have been analyzed before projects move forward.

There are other issues that have come forward recently that I think will have to be dealt with in the near future.I don’t think the deer problem has been “solved.” I think the recent oil and gas exploration in and around the city limits have only just started to create problems and I think seismic studies and drilling will keep the council busy into the future if those companies begin to find oil and gas reserve near the Craig city limits.

Q: If elected, what specifically would you do to make the City of Craig a better place for residents and businesses by the end of this year?

A: It is hard to think that someone can just jump into public service and make things better overnight. I would like to investigate helping our current local businesses so that more items are purchased locally, if possible, thus helping our local economy.

One thing I would like to understand better would be the tax implications on buying a car or truck locally versus buying one out of town.

Next to a house, a new car or truck is the biggest purchase most people make. Currently the difference in buying locally versus out of town amounts to up to several thousand dollars in taxes. If a way could be discovered to lower the local tax rates enough so that more local purchasing would be developed, that could give a boost to our local economy in the near term.

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Don Jones

Don Jones

Age: 58

Occupation: Business owner, Craig Steel

Years in Craig: 50+ years

Past political experience: Craig mayor, 2005 to present, and Craig City Council member, 1995 to 2005

Civic organizations: Craig Chamber of Commerce Board member for eight years; Chamber member for 24 years; Yampa River Basin Partnership for 13 years; White-Yampa-Green Roundtable for six years; Craig Planning & Zoning Commission for 15 years; Yampa Valley Golf Course Men’s Club.

Q: What prompted you to run for city council?

A: As my term as mayor drew closer to the end, I realized that I still want to have an active role in this community. I also believe that my 16 years serving the City of Craig provides valuable experience and insight to the inner workings of Craig.

Q: You’ve served 16 years on the city council — 10 as a council member and six as mayor. What is left for you to accomplish that you haven’t been able to during that time?

A: City council is a seven-member board. Regardless if you are mayor or a councilperson, you are part of a team. I have never had a “bucket list” of personal achievements that I wanted to accomplish while serving as mayor or as a city councilperson.

The purpose of city council is to be the pulse of the community and to make policies that reflect this pulse within the constraints of the city’s charter. As such, my primary objective is to continue to serve Craig’s citizens by listening and participating. That is what I would like to accomplish.

Q: After more than a decade-and-a-half in city government, is now not a good time to allow new members with new experiences and ideas onto the council?

A: I do not think new ideas necessarily substitutes the value of experience. An effective leader constantly searches for new ideas. As a citizen that has lived in Craig for more than 50 years and a business owner for the past 32 years, I know that times change, and to survive and prosper you must change with the times. I think my experience, wisdom, knowledge (i.e. learning from my mistakes), and common sense have contributed to the success of the city. With the new challenges facing the city, I think my experience and desire to find the best possible solution is an asset to the city council.

Q: The city council, under your leadership, has been negotiating with the Moffat County Commission for several months regarding a new lease agreement for the Moffat County Public Safety Center. An agreement has not been reached. What could the city have done better to resolve this issue, and you specifically?

A: In retrospect, I think the city council could have better communicated the complexities of the public safety center. Because the entire facts have not been presented to the public, many in the community believe the issue stems primarily on the fair price of rent. Eleven years ago, the voters of Craig and Moffat County chose to reallocate a portion of sales tax from the city to the county for the primary reason of construction of the public safety center and capital improvements in the county. Since that decision, this reallocation has generated $11 million. Additionally, the city has forfeited $1.3 million in sales tax revenue to the sales tax reallocation. I should have better communicated to the public on why the city needs to spend the necessary time to understand and negotiate this matter. Especially considering that we are talking about millions of taxpayer dollars.

Q: If elected, what specifically would you do to make the City of Craig a better place for residents and businesses by the end of this year?

A: By the end of the year, I would like the city council and citizens of Craig to develop on this community’s future vision for the next one, five, 10 and 20 years.

With the pain of the current boom/bust cycle and economic recession fresh in our minds, we need to develop an action plan of how Craig can diversify and stabilize our economy, improve our schools, and better this community. Only then can the community commit to the cooperation and resources necessary to accomplish this vision.

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Byron Willems

Byron Willems

Age: 52

Occupation: Owner/president of Craig Fire & Safety, Inc.

Years in Craig: 50

Past political experience: Craig City Council for six years; Craig Rural Fire Protection District Board member for 10 years, currently board president; Colorado State Firefighters Association Executive Board member for eight years, including a stint as president; Colorado Wrestling Officials Association Executive Board for 10 years, including a stint as president

Civic organizations: Craig Fire/Rescue for 23 years

Q: What prompted you to run for council?

A: Six years ago, I ran because I wanted to get involved at the city level of government. As soon as I was elected in 2005, I realized that we as citizens of Craig are very fortunate to have such a well-run city government. It is enjoyable (most of the time) to be part of that. The City of Craig runs very well and under budget year to year. This is due largely to its very qualified, budget-minded employees. These are tough times and all of our employees know that.

Q: According to records, you missed 10 of 45 council meetings (22.2 percent) in your most recent two-year term. Can you explain these absences, and do you have the time necessary to commit to effectively running the city?

A: In mid-November, my left knee deteriorated to the point that it needed surgery. We first performed an arthroscopic surgery and then in January did major surgery and I received a total knee replacement.

I was able to return to city council meetings exactly four weeks after a total knee replacement. That’s not bad. So, the four meetings I missed in late 2010 and early 2011 are all directly related to my knee surgeries. If you remove the four, that leaves six out of 45, or 13-percent. My business sometimes takes me out of town on council meetings. I do not see a 13-percent absence as an issue. This is why the council is made up of seven people to cover when members are gone.

Q: What accomplishments have you had in your six years as a council member that we could credit to you as the driving force?

A: There were two issues that I have taken a significant interest in.

I introduced the social hosting ordinance along with Grand Futures.

Grand Futures just reported MIPs (Minor in Possession) are way down this year.

So, the social hosting ordinance has been a good deterrent to underage drinking. By eliminating or reducing the party spots, we reduce the amount of underage drinking.

The second was the medical marijuana dispensary in Craig.

This one I truly believe we as a council failed the citizens on. In fact, I was the only city council member to vote against it and I still believe there is no place in our community for it.

Many other projects were accomplished in my six years, but those were team efforts, as most accomplishments are.

Q: You ran a political ad stating that the issue of deer within city limits is not resolved. What does this mean, and do you think the city needs to spend more time on this particular issue after so much discussion and public feedback already?

A: The deer herd in Craig is over populated and sick. The deer herd, if not thinned, will eventually lead to someone getting hurt. I have no problem with any citizen enjoying seeing deer in Craig. But, this has become a safety issue. Steps should be taken to encourage and allow more work from the Colorado Division of Wildlife regarding this issue.

The safety of the public should outweigh the enjoyment of seeing deer in Craig.

Q: If elected, what specifically would you do to make the City of Craig a better place for residents and businesses by the end of this year?

A: As council members, we constantly strive to improve our operations to help the citizens, business owners and the City of Craig to run better and more efficiently. The City of Craig is run very well. Just compare it to any other local government and Craig has shown it can be the model for how it should be done without red ink.

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