Candidates Q-and-A: Gene Bilodeau
March 26, 2013
Occupation: Vice president of Craig Campus — Colorado Northwestern Community College
Years in Craig: 19-plus
Immediate family: Wife, Nancy, and sons Jacob, 25, and Tucker, 23
Previous political experience/civic involvement: Elected to fill vacated seat on Craig City Council in 2007; elected to four-year City Council term by voters in 2009; Moffat County United Way board member; Craig Chamber of Commerce past board chairman and sitting board member; Rotary Club of Craig member; Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership board member; Small Business Incubator Advisory Board member; Northwest Colorado Regional Workforce Board member; St. Michael's Soup Kitchen volunteer. Past civic involvement includes: Moffat County School to Work Alliance board member; Community Evaluation Team board member; St. Michael's Parish Council member; Craig Parks and Recreation Advisory Board member; Youth Services Council board member; Visiting Nurse Association — co-facilitated group counseling for bereavement; coached youth sports for 15 years; Craig Youth Soccer Association past president and board member; Grand Futures of Moffat County; Colorado West Mental Health Center board member.
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: Yes, I support the moratorium. The passage of Amendment 64 charges the Colorado Department of Revenue with developing the regulations for marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana testing facilities, marijuana manufacturing facilities, and marijuana retails stores by July 1, 2013. In addition, by Oct. 1, 2013, the state of Colorado will start accepting said applications and also on this date local regulations must be in place. Until these state rules and regulations are developed, made public and fully understood by the Craig City Council it would be premature for Craig to adopt any of its own rules and regulations. If elected I would review and understand the state rules and regulations once set forth. I would use this information as the council explores its options and makes decisions about what place marijuana will have in Craig.
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: This assessment was a very good process for our community. The final report will be available in six to eight weeks. Though we have certainly felt the effects of the recession, were it not for the mines, power plant and the oil and gas sector with the taxes each of these industries pay, we would have felt the impact much more than we did. I would describe the Craig economy as stable. If re-elected I will continue working to support increased diversification of our economy. This means supporting the current business community and encouraging the growth of new businesses in Craig. To attract new businesses and stabilize existing ones, we need a community that is aesthetically appealing, safe, has a strong educational system, an educated workforce, and a good health care system. As a community member and sitting city counselor I have worked toward these efforts and will continue to do so.
Q: Do you agree with renewable energy mandates? If so, why? If not, what would you do to change things?
A: The federal mandates I'm familiar with are well intentioned but unrealistic. I support the use and scientific research into renewable energy such as solar, wind, biomass, landfill gas, ocean, geothermal, and municipal solid waste. However, I believe there is much work to be done with regard to availability, cost, and dependability. Renewable energy has a place but not at the expense of the current resources, such as coal. I will be a proponent of the continued use of coal, clean coal technology and natural gas. I will speak against energy plans that do not include coal and other fossil fuels.
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: I do support the expenditure for a number of reasons, primarily one of safety. In the event there is a need for fire suppression, the current lines do not have the necessary capacity to support efficient and adequate efforts. By statute, Shadow Mountain cannot be annexed into the City of Craig. Because of this, the city will have very little long-term oversight other than the water and sewer lines. Since Shadow Mountain has developed into a long-term residential subdivision, it's imperative its infrastructure be updated and brought up to code. The subdivision oversight will remain under Moffat County.
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: The City of Craig would benefit from a recreation center. There has been a lot of conversation over the years about the need in Craig to provide healthy lifestyle opportunities for community members of all ages. It's well documented the more options a community has for recreation, the healthier a community is. Recreation centers provide opportunities for citizens to participate in activities that are healthy for mind and body. We live in an area with numerous outdoor recreational opportunities. We fall short on indoor opportunities that are readily available. I would definitely explore all realistic and financially sound options.
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 most pressing issue facing our community is the state and national debate as well as legal proceedings over the use of coal-fired power generation plants and coal in general. In 2010, Tri State Generation alone provided $8.1 million to Moffat County in property taxes; $700,000 in sales taxes; and had a direct regional payroll of $28.2 million. Tri State, Trapper and ColoWyo mines together had a direct payroll of $38.9 million. If outside forces have their way, some of our biggest taxpayers and strongest economic drivers may be forced to make decisions that could negatively impact our community and region. I will continue to support efforts to counteract these influences.
Perhaps one of our greatest opportunities is if the current oil and gas exploration can move into production. Regardless of this outcome we must be proactive. The recent Craig Downtown Assessment reinforces some of the opportunities that myself and others have been working toward and I will continue to address: making the most of what we currently have; improving the aesthetics of our community; strengthening local retail businesses; support the establishment of new businesses; and collaboration among key stakeholders to create a stronger and unified community.