Craig City Council member Gene Bilodeau, standing, addresses more than 30 voters Thursday during a municipal candidate forum hosted by the Bears Ears Tea Party Patriots at the Center of Craig, 601 Yampa Ave. Also attending the forum were, from left, city council candidates John Smith, Jarrod Ogden and Tony Bohrer; and Craig City Mayor candidates Ray Beck and Terry Carwile.

Photo by Joe Moylan

Craig City Council member Gene Bilodeau, standing, addresses more than 30 voters Thursday during a municipal candidate forum hosted by the Bears Ears Tea Party Patriots at the Center of Craig, 601 Yampa Ave. Also attending the forum were, from left, city council candidates John Smith, Jarrod Ogden and Tony Bohrer; and Craig City Mayor candidates Ray Beck and Terry Carwile.

Tea Party candidates forum attracts 6 of 8 candidates

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— Sometimes the best prediction of what someone will do in the future is to look at what they have done in the past. But being able to talk about records is a luxury only about half of the candidates in the races for Craig mayor and City Council are able to play to their advantage.

On Thursday night, more than 30 Craig voters had their first opportunity to hear from and pose questions to six of the eight candidates vying for municipal office during a Bears Ears Tea Party Patriots forum at the Center of Craig.

Among the candidates in attendance were Mayor Terry Carwile and his challenger, council member Ray Beck. Council candidates who attended the forum included council member Gene Bilodeau, who is seeking re-election, and political newcomers Tony Bohrer, Jarrod Ogden and John Smith.

Council members Jennifer Riley and Byron Willems also are seeking re-election but were unable to attend Thursday’s forum because of prior engagements.

Carwile, Beck and Bilodeau touted their years of experience in elected office and serving on local, regional and state boards. Smith and the other first-time candidates cited the qualities that would make them viable candidates during the April municipal election.

Bohrer highlighted the fact that he would be the youngest City Council member in history, something he considers a key advantage. He jabbed at one of his opponents, council member Willems, in making his point.

Willems was elected to one four-year term and appointed to two, two-year terms. Because he was appointed twice he is eligible to run again, and if elected in April, he would end up serving 12 consecutive years on City Council.

“I am young and I think that’s a good thing because I’ll be able to bring a lot of new ideas and new perspectives to the council,” Bohrer said. “I don’t think we need someone to serve 12 years just because they have come in second so many times before.”

The candidates fielded a number of questions from voters in attendance, ranging from services for seniors to the adverse affects Agenda 21 could have on the city.

But maintaining local government control, dispelling the myths surrounding the coal mining industry and protecting Second Amendment rights were consistent themes of the challenges Craig faces in its immediate future.

Bilodeau took his answer about supporting the coal mining industry a step beyond simply dispelling the myths about coal-fired power generation.

“I hope the community will begin to understand better than it ever has before the importance of diversification,” Bilodeau said. “We have been an extraction community for as long as I can remember, and where extraction goes so goes our population.”

Though City Council is a nonpartisan position, Craig resident Kerry Moe asked the candidates if they would support their respective political party’s position about gun control at both the state and federal levels.

“I’m not a big hunter because I can’t get my wife to cook it, so it ends up being a big waste,” Ogden said. “I do not think it is the federal government’s right to tell us to lay down our guns and I won’t do it as a city councilor.

“Like my dad always said, guns don’t kill people, people who shouldn’t have guns kill people.”

Craig City Council is a six-member board with three seats up for election this cycle. The top three vote getters will win office in April.

Beck and Carwile are the only two candidates running for the office of mayor.

Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or jmoylan@craigdailypress.com.

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