Candidates address residents |

Candidates address residents

Commissioner, coroner candidates to present platforms to public

Brian Smith

Craig resident Stefka White said she visited American Legion Post 62 on Wednesday without a clear idea of who she would vote for in next month's primary election.

But, after hearing several candidates for Moffat County Commission speak about various issues facing the county, White said she had a much better idea of how she would cast her ballot.

White was one of about 40 residents who attended a candidate forum as part of Wellness Wednesday sponsored by the Aging Well Program.

The forum was moderated by John Ponikvar, Moffat County Republican Central Committee chairman and lasted about an hour.

All candidates for county commission and coroner attended the forum and were given five minutes to introduce themselves to the audience.

Ponikvar then asked the commission candidates several questions regarding county business.

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The first question was what the candidates' biggest priority for the county's budget would be.

Incumbent District 2 commissioner Audrey Danner said her biggest priority was prioritizing services to "do more with less."

"We do need to listen to the people," she said. "We have a very specific process in place right now in the county to do that."

She said the county is also looking at the revenue side of the budget process and how state and federal legislation is affecting declining revenues.

Tami Barnes, a write-in candidate for District 2, said the budget should be the commission's highest priority.

"They need to be sitting down and voting for each and every one of what we want, and listening to what you want and not making decisions that don't even include us," she said.

Candidates were also asked if they supported the Craig City Council's recent proposal to implement a city lodging tax.

Incumbent District 3 commissioner Tom Mathers said he likes the idea of the city creating a lodging tax.

"All the hotels that are collecting the tax are within the city limits, they're not out in the county," he said. "This probably should be a city issue and if … the tax payers and the voters feel like it would be something good, then I think the city could take the ball and do a better job with it than what we have done at the county."

District 3 candidate Frank Moe said he would support "what is best for Moffat County."

He elaborated by saying Moffat County should stabilize its economy through tourism while the energy industry is "under attack."

"We need good effective tourism whether it is from the county, whether it's from the city," he said.

Candidates were also asked if they would support the potential hiring of a county manager in the future.

District 2 candidate Tony St. John said he would consider hiring a county manager because of the various departments and hundreds of employees the commission oversees.

"That's a big job in itself right there, plus budgeting and everything," he said. "I just think that a county manager might be a pretty good position to help us, but that is something we would have to see for the future."

The two candidates for county coroner — local chiropractor Kirk McKey and Moffat County Sheriff's Office deputy Larry Dalton — also addressed the crowd.

Dalton and McKey both outlined the coroner's duties and reasons why they decided to run for the position.

McKey said he didn't think anyone would run for the coroner position.

"The county needs a coroner and I think that I can do a good job," he said.

McKey said his flexible schedule would allow him to perform tasks assigned to the coroner.

Dalton said during his time working for the sheriff's office he has worked with current coroner Owen Grant.

"The investigation is a very critical part of the coroner's position," he said.

Dalton said his position as a deputy would also allow him a flexible schedule to work as the coroner as well.

White said she thought the forum was informative.

"I think it is going to be a lot easier to make a decision now after listening to them," she said.

White said she thought some of the candidates had "fresh ideas" that could help the county.

"You know experience is important, but sometimes the new candidates have better ideas or new ideas," she said.

Craig resident Marlene Griffin said the forum gave her "something to think about."

She said she was glad the candidates came so she could understand their viewpoints better.

"You don't know until they can put it in their words," she said. "You hear so many rumors of this and that depending what side people are on, and you get a chance to judge for yourself."

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