City council candidates discuss growth, the future of Craig at Craig Press forum

Candidates for Craig city council, from left, John Alcedo, Jesse Jackson, Bruce Cummings, Parrish Terry, Sean Hovorka and Chris Nichols, listen to the moderator at the Craig Press candidate forum Monday evening.
Sheli Steele / Craig Press

Candidates for Craig City Council addressed concerns and questions from constituents at Monday’s candidate forum hosted by the Craig Press. Candidates spoke for almost an hour and a half about Craig’s future and how they see their role in it.

When asked about their top priorities as candidates for the council, candidates had varying answers.

John Alcedo, who recently moved to Craig last year, said that smart spending toward growing businesses and services that are already here in Craig is crucial to sustainability beyond mine and power plant closures within the coming years.

“Our sustainable tax base is our retail businesses, so we really do have to grow,” Alcedo said. “We’ve got to have reasons that developers are going here, and sustaining and building the population of our town is very important.”

Chris Nichols, who currently sits on the council and is running for a second term, echoed concerns about stable growth in the community. Nichols said that building community pride and connectivity between members of the Craig community is a focus of his candidacy.

“Improving our recreational amenities (is important) so people want to come live in this community,” Nichols said. “That’s all related to growth. Affordable housing is (important), too. This summer we saw — and realtors can vouch for this — a rush for housing, and our stock was depleted. I’m not talking low-income housing; I’m talking affordable housing.”

Sean Hovorka, production superintendent at Trapper Mine, had three points laid out for his vision of top priorities: budget, sustainable growth with accountability, and making Craig attractive to industry and recreation. Hovorka said adjusting and adapting current spending and preparing for future industries is going to help sustain the community.

“We’ve got to be smart with the money that we have right now,” he said. “We need to make sure that our money is being spent in a sustainable manner, where we’re holding the people who are spending that money accountable for it, making sure that they have our best interests in mind and that we’re not being frivolous.”

Parrish Terry, a Frito/Lay representative and local pastor, said that slow and steady growth is going to be a better option than trying to “hit a home run” immediately. Terry added that, while outside industry is important, the priority should stay on the people in Craig that are already here.

“We will give tax breaks to big corporations, but not to local people. Why?” Terry said. “We need to build our community with the people that are here. And then (outside businesses) will come, as the phrase goes. ‘If you build it, they will come.’ It shouldn’t be the government, it should be the people.”

Bruce Cummings is another incumbent vying to continue serving on the council after being appointed to a seat. Economic growth will also be one of his main priorities, specifically in how the city will move forward and prepare for closures. Cummings said that community input is going to have a huge role in how the council decides what gets funding and what might not in the future.

“(Growth) is going to require our community. It’s going to take people out there stepping up and opening up businesses starting and working for a better tomorrow,” Cummings said. “The next thing we got to worry about is where we stand on our budgets and the funding that’s coming in, and where it’s going to cut and where we’re not.”

Jesse James Jackson, a 30-year Craig resident and graduate of Moffat County High School who works at Trapper Mine, said education is going to be a main priority if elected to the city council. Jackson said that as a family community, Craig should focus a lot on education and how to best help families in town.

“(New families) are coming and wanting to know what their schools are like and how they’re doing,” Jackson said. “We can invest in schools that fit the quality of people that we want to be here. (I’m also focused on) making the all-around community safe, keeping up with the police and just keeping everything clean, and cleaning up a few things that we have going around. But I just think education is key to sustaining and bringing more people in.”

Currently, there are the seven city council candidates running for four at-large seats on the six-seat council. One candidate, Jeremiah Beaudin, wasn’t able to attend the forum.

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