County Commissioner candidates debate issues ahead of June 30 primary |

County Commissioner candidates debate issues ahead of June 30 primary

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John F. Russell

With the June 30 primary just around the corner, County Commissioner candidates Tony Bohrer (running unopposed in District 1), Melody Villard (running for District 2) and Chuck Grobe (former County Commissioner running for District 2) sat down with Moffat County Republican Party Chairman Doug Winters for a special County Commissioner Candidate roundtable late last week.

The three candidates debated issues for roughly an hour on topics ranging from why the candidates chose to run, to how the future looks in Moffat County regarding the pending economic changes that the community faces.

Winters started off the hour-long debate asking each candidate why they decided to run for County Commissioner.

Bohrer went first out of the three candidates.

“For me, it’s very simple,” Bohrer said. “We are invested into this community; my daughters are in school in this community. These next 8-10 years are crucial for this community. I felt that instead of being on the sidelines talking about what we should of done or what we could do, I wanted to put my name in the hat and push forward to try and be part of the solution.

“I know it’s not going to be easy for the next 4-8 years. I’ve said it many times, where there’s great opposition, there’s great opportunity…”

Grobe, a County Commissioner from 2013-17, went next.

“I’ve been very invested in this community for a long time,” Grobe said. “Being a past commissioner, being involved at the state level, I care deeply about Moffat County. We’re retiring here, we’re not moving anywhere; we care deeply about what’s going on here. With my experience, I felt I have to throw my hat back in the ring.

“We have to move forward and have to look outside the box; things are coming against us. I’ve said it several times, we’re the target with everything that’s coming down from the state level… But I’m excited about the opportunities to get to move forward.”

Villard, who is an active business owner in the community, had two minutes to answer the question.

“As a business owner and active volunteer in this community , and raising a fourth, fifth, and sixth generation in Moffat County, I’ve always taken an active role in this community,” Villard said. “I believe in personal responsibility and seeking out what our government is doing for us and with us. I’m not a career politician, but I think it’s very important to have strong leaders who are active in our community and committed to this community…When you see the direction that we’re going and you feel helpless, the best thing to do is pick up some weight and go with it…”

After discussing why they are running for County Commissioner, as well as how they view themselves as leaders, Winters asked the candidates about what they feel are the biggest obstacles facing Moffat County today, and what solutions they’d bring to the table.

Villard addressed the issue first, stating that she believes Moffat County and its people are holding themselves back.

“I think one of the biggest challenges we have in Moffat County is our own selves holding us back,” Villard said. “I think we get stuck with this black cloud over our head and think about what we can’t do. We need to look at these things realistically.

“We’re looking at an attack on our energy and an attack on our agriculture with the spoken reintroduction of wolves that are already here. There isn’t a sector in Moffat County that’s not at risk right now. So, we need to face the reality that those things are at risk and deal with them within the parameters that have been given to us, but also look at them in creative ways to get past those challenges…”

Grobe addressed the issues next.

“…if everybody keeps coming up with their own plan and we keep fragmenting ourselves, we’re moving in different directions,” Grobe said. “We need to come together as a community and come up with a plan to handle what’s before us.

“Like I said before, we seem to be the bullseye for the state. We need to be rowing the boat, but all need to be going in the same direction, because if we don’t we’re going to keep going in circles and not going anywhere…”

Bohrer closed the discussion regarding the obstacles that lie ahead.

“Being in politics the last seven years, there seems to be a new obstacle every year,” Bohrer said. “We all thought energy was going to be our biggest obstacle locally, and then COVID hits, and now even the smallest businesses are being attacked.

“I sat there with the Governor one day…and said listen, it seems like every time we get our head above water, you guys from the Front Range come and push us back down. First it’s our coal, and then we say we’re the Elk Capital of the world and you want to introduce wolves. I told him that you’re killing us. The thing that we thought was safe – ranching and hunting – was safe, and now it’s not safe. We have to have a loud voice…we cannot be the one that just goes with the flow. If we do that, we’re going to come to the point where it’s too late…”

The full debate can be listened to here.

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