Candidates Q-and-A: Leland Ray (John) Smith

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Age: 70

Occupation: Rancher

Years in Craig: Born and raised in Craig. Also lived in Savery, Wyo., and Grand Junction before returning to Craig in 2005

Immediate family: Wife, Sally; three daughters; seven grandchildren

Previous political experience/civic involvement: Carbon County, Wyo., school board

Q: The Craig City Council recently passed an ordinance prohibiting the use of marijuana on industrial and commercial zoned properties. Do you support that ordinance? Why or why not? If elected, what other steps would you take in regards to Amendment 64 implementation?

A: I support the ordinance and am not in favor of marijuana in any form.

Q: Craig recently took part in a downtown revitalization assessment focused on spurring economic development in the downtown core. What do you consider to be the state of Craig’s economy, and what specific steps would you take as a city councilor to address local economic issues?

A: The economy is dependent on coal and oil. The city needs to be visually attractive and friendly to business.

Q: Do you agree with renewable energy mandates? If so, why? If not, what would you do to change things?

A: I am not particularly agreeable to renewable energy mandates. We should be using federal funds to build hydroelectric dams, which makes more sense for our area.

Q: Rehabilitating the Shadow Mountain subdivision is estimated to cost $4.5 million in city and county funds. Do you support that sort of expenditure, and what do you think is the right long-term approach to Shadow Mountain capital infrastructure needs and oversight?

A: As I understand it, Shadow Mountain was designed to be a temporary mobile home park for the construction of the power plant. After the plant was completed, the mobile homes were to be removed and the lots reconfigured so that every two mobile home lots would become a single lot as a building site for permanent homes. That said, according to county and city officials, the water and sewer lines are subpar. I think we need to help the residents as much as possible, and the power plant should help also. We should help the residents with a bond to provide a way they could pay for their share over an extended period of time.

Q: Years ago, voters approved the idea of building a recreation center but would not support the $15 million cost for its construction or tax increases to fund the center into the future. Does the City of Craig need a rec center, and if so, would you explore options to reintroduce the project while in office?

A: Craig does need a recreation center. The city and county, along with the local energy entities, should talk to the Baggs, Wyo., council and find out how they were able to build their center. I think $15 million is more than we need to spend. I believe it could be done for less.

Q: What do you view as the most pressing issues and greatest opportunities facing Craig in the next two to four years, and what are your ideas to address them?

A: The national economy. It is hard to project a long-term solution when we don’t know what the federal government is going to do about taxes, health care costs, the war against coal, reluctance to open areas to drilling, and other regulations. All we can do as a city is to keep the costs in line with revenue and make the city attractive and welcoming to both businesses and tourism. If we can present a city with taxes as low as we can possibly make them and water cheap enough so people can water their lawns without going broke, we will be on the right track.

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