Longtime Hayden public servant seeking Moffat County office
Candidate at a glance:
Name: Chuck Grobe, Moffat County Commission candidate for District 2
Party affiliation: Republican
Residency: Craig for a year and a half
Family: Married for more than 40 years to Julie Grobe, 60
Children: Mae Palmer, 41, serving aboard a Mercy Ship off the coast of Africa; and Kate Grobe, 35, Craig resident and Yampa Valley Pregnancy Center director
Hobbies: Fly-fishing, bowling, golf and hockey.
What’s kept Chuck Grobe in the Yampa Valley for three decades?
The Moffat County Commission candidate didn’t have to think long before answering.
“The best thing is the people here are great,” said Grobe, 62. “You can’t find better people anywhere.”
Grobe is vying with incumbent Audrey Danner for the District 2 seat and is a relative newcomer to Craig.
He moved to the city a year and a half ago from Hayden, where he lived for more than 30 years and served as town mayor for six years and mayor pro-tem for four years.
Grobe, a substation supervisor at Tri-State Generation & Transmission, also served terms as chairman and vice chairman of the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado and logged more than 20 years on the Hayden Planning & Zoning Commission.
He weighed in Monday on issues including energy, budgeting in lean times and the structure of county government.
His responses, which were also asked of Danner, follow.
On streamlining county government:
Grobe said he would need to take a closer look at county government before deciding how and where to consolidate.
“With my past work in public service, I’d like to look at it with different eyes and different ways of looking at things,” he said. “There’s always ways to streamline to some extent, whether it’s different agreements or whatever.”
On whether Moffat County should have a county planner:
Deciding whether the county should hire a manager is a “complicated issue,” Grobe said, but he would be interested in considering the possibility, if elected.
He believes a planner could provide stability in the county that commissioners, who are term-limited, could not.
“There’s one aspect that nobody really talks a lot about and that’s from one election to another, the county (planner) would be able to be a buffer between the commissioners and the employees of the county so it’s not always such a roller coaster ride,” he said.
The downside: “You’ve got to get the right guy,” Grobe said. “You don’t have a lot of chances to make this work.”
On broadband Internet for rural areas:
Danner named increasing broadband access as a key element of her platform when she announced her intention to run for re-election in December 2011.
Grobe doesn’t dispute the point.
“Broadband is critical to getting businesses to come to town,” as well as for the electronic transfer of medical records between hospitals, he said.
However, “I don’t want to saddle that all on the backs of the taxpayers,” he said.
Instead, he proposed building partnerships with Internet providers and local companies to make broadband more available.
How quickly service could be improved, though, remains to be seen.
“It depends,” Grobe said. “That’s a tough one to find out exactly what’s available and how fast we can get buy-in from the different companies.”
On government finance:
On the question of whether local governments should spend from reserves or cut services in hard financial times, Grobe said the decision must be made on a case-by-case basis.
“It’s one of those things that when you get there, you look at all the options and pick up the best way to go,” he said.
The issue isn’t merely a theoretical one for Grobe, who saw tight financial times while serving on the Hayden Town Council.
“I’ve been involved with that at the city level, having to cut when 2008 hit,” he said.
Still, he believes preserving a municipality’s rainy-day fund is crucial.
“You don’t want to spend your reserves because you need to rely on those,” he said. “You can’t go bankrupt.”
On energy development:
Grobe was unequivocal about what his role as a commissioner would be regarding the energy industry, the county’s economic lifeblood.
“I see my role as standing up for the energy developers,” he said. “We have to do it safe and friendly to the environment, of course, but we need to promote it and be on the forefront standing up for coal and our coal power plant.”
He believes county officials should be active in discussions about coal legislation created in higher levels of government.
“A lot of times it’s nice to write a letter of support (or write a letter) against something, but sometimes you just have to be there and voice your concerns in person, too,” Grobe said.
Rallying local support from residents and businesses also is critical, he said.
On the relationship between Moffat County and the City of Craig:
“Right now, I don’t think it’s healthy,” Grobe said. “It hasn’t been healthy in a long time.”
Friction between the two entities is a wide-ranging problem that stems from “distrust both ways,” he said. Grobe believes the solution is simple.
“It’s just as different situations come up, work together at it,” he said. “Let’s come up with a common solution and leave our titles in our office and sit down and have an open discussion on how better we can serve the citizens of the county and the city.”
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Back in classes and back in competition, the wintertime athletes of Moffat County High School are making up time from the holiday hiatus.