Tea party hosts candidate forum in Craig | CraigDailyPress.com

Tea party hosts candidate forum in Craig

Panel of residents ask candidates questions about state, local level issues

Brian Smith

Craig resident Matt Winey attended a local candidate forum Friday in hopes of better understanding how a candidate would act in the "hot seat" if elected.

"I'm discouraged with people that don't find out really how a person … thinks when they put them in office," he said. "… Once they get away from us, they are going to do their own thing, they kind of have to."

Winey was one of about 80 area residents who filled the American Legion Post 62 meeting hall Friday to hear several local candidates speak as part of a candidate forum hosted by the Moffat County tea party.

Two local candidates did not attend the forum — Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz, who is running for reelection, and county surveyor candidate Peter Epp.

Candidates were given one minute to respond to questions asked by a panel of five residents.

Most of the panel's questions were directed at the county commission candidates who received 10 questions on subjects ranging from term limits, creating special tax districts for libraries and museums, government subsidies for economic development, and the role of government in the private sector.

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The panel also asked the candidates a variety of questions about land use in the county, such as access to public lands, the Vermillion Basin, oil and gas regulations, and county planning and zoning regulations.

When asked if she favored increasing, decreasing or maintaining county planning and zoning regulations, Tami Barnes, a write-in candidate for the commission District 2 seat, said she would like a decrease in regulations.

"That property we are paying for with our blood and our sweat and we don't need a whole bunch of people coming in and saying 'you have to do that' to make somebody else happy," she said. "It's our property."

Frank Moe, a candidate for the commission District 3 seat, said he is for property rights, but residents "need to consider our neighbors."

Moe admitted he was not as familiar with the subject of planning and zoning as other topics, and asked for public input on the issue.

"Again, it is another issue I would like to find out from the people out in the county," he said. "It has been said up here that we think we need to maintain where we are at now … but I would feel more comfortable hearing from everybody by phone or by e-mail on my website."

When asked if he favored local government subsidies to businesses for economic development, incumbent District 3 Commissioner Tom Mathers said, "It's one step closer to socialism if you put government in businesses."

"I believe in a capitalistic world where you go out and you make a business and you make it what it is," he said. "You either succeed or you move on down the road. I think government should get out of the way and loosen rules and regulations to where you can go out and make a living."

Tony St. John, a candidate for county commission District 2, said government subsidies for businesses and economic development is something the county should look into, as long as it is paid back.

"If we can help them get started, but we also contract with them to pay us back, then that is a win-win situation," he said.

When asked if she favored limiting regulations on the oil and gas industry to attract industry business to Moffat County, incumbent District 2 Commissioner Audrey Danner said the county needs the regulations, but she would not want to increase them.

"We need oil and gas. We need all of our natural resources used appropriately and we do need regulations to manage them," she said. "Do we need to increase the rules? No."

The forum panel then asked Moffat County assessor candidates Carol Scott and Robert Razzano if they were in favor of maximizing or minimizing tax evaluations.

Razzano said he believes in fair evaluations.

"I think you have to look at each property individually and try to come up with a fair value," he said. "It doesn't have to be at the top or at the very bottom."

Scott agreed evaluations should be fair, and said state guidelines the assessor follows are "designed to keep you in that middle ground."

"There is not a reason to shoot for a high or a low level," she said.

After the panel finished asking questions, the candidates dispersed into the crowd to talk with residents who may have had follow-up questions to ask.

Craig resident Les Hampton said the forum didn't cause him to make any final decisions, but gave him the opportunity to be exposed to the candidates.

"It was a little different being run by citizens versus the media, the radio or the newspaper," he said. "I thought that was a good thing so that they got their questions put to the (candidates)."

Craig resident Lori Butler said she thought the questions the panel asked were "excellent."

"There were a lot of people that probably didn't know some of these candidates," Butler said. "There were a number of questions that I really didn't know how they stood on, which I do now."

Moffat County candidates

Commission, District 2

• Audrey Danner

• Tami Barnes

• Tony St. John

Commission, District 3

• Tom Mathers

• Frank Moe

Clerk and recorder

• Lila Herod


• Carol Scott

• Robert Razzano


• Kirk McKey

• Larry Dalton


• Tim Jantz


• Peter Epp


• Elaine Sullivan

• Mike Brinks

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