Moffat County candidates respond to reader questions, make a case for election | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County candidates respond to reader questions, make a case for election

CRAIG — Primary ballots will hit mailboxes soon, and with primary voting to end June 26, candidates for local offices participated in a forum sponsored by the Craig Press and Craig Association of Realtors Monday, June 4.

During an event that lasted about two hours, candidates for the offices of Moffat County sheriff, assessor, coroner, clerk and recorder and District 3 county commissioner made cases for their election in opening and closing statements and responded to questions, many submitted by readers.

Incumbent Treasurer Linda Peters was unable to attend the event due to a family emergency. Incumbent Surveyor Peter Epp declined invitations to attend the forum.

The county budget, addressing an increasing problem with illegal drugs and candidate qualifications were among the issues addressed.

Unopposed primary candidates

Four candidates will appear unopposed on the Republican primary ballot. In addition to Peters and Epp, two candidates in attendance at the forum face uncontested races: Sheriff KC Hume and Assessor Charles "Chuck" Cobb.

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Hume was elected sheriff in 2014 and committed to stepping down as fire chief during that campaign, something he has not done. In response to a reader question, he said he developed a succession plan, but after "an outpouring" of community support, he decided to stay on as fire chief. He said he is now planning to "pass that mantle of leadership to the next generation" once he's reached the 20-year mark with the fire department.

Hume was also asked what steps he is taking to stem the flow of illicit drugs into the community. In response, he described the impact of drug activity on the jail, the creation and work of a regional task force "comprised of local agencies across the valley" and the increased training his staff is receiving.

"This is the primary focus for our team at our office, and as well as brothers and sister in other law enforcement," Hume said.

Incumbent assessor Cobb addressed concerns of a perceived conflict of interest, as he still holds a real estate license.

"I have not been active in the selling of real estate," he said.

From time to time, he helps his wife, a local realtor, place signs and continues to manage property, but he added that since completing the transition he has not been involved in any contracts.

"I stay current with it, so that when my job at the assessor office is done, I can go back to it," he said.

Asked about his job as county assessor, Cobb said he felt confident his office is doing it's due diligence to identify and value taxable property, a challenging prospect, given the size of the county and the number of parcels in it.

"It's been a great experience. … There's a lot going on in the assessment world. … I look forward to continuing in this role," he said.

County clerk and recorder

Clerk and Recorder Lila Herod is term-limited, and two of her staff are running for her seat.

Motor Vehicle Supervisor Tammy Raschke is a department veteran and was Chief Deputy until a demotion in December 2017.

"I've waited 27 years to be clerk and recorder. My children have moved away to pursue their own dreams and careers, leaving me time to pursue my career," she said.

Tori Pingley was in charge of the Elections Office until she decided to run for office.

"I have knowledge and experience in each department. I think bringing youth to an office is helpful. It brings a different perspective," she said.

Incumbents face multiple challengers

Moffat County Coroner Kirk McKey and District 3 Moffat County Commissioner Frank Moe are each being challenged by two candidates.

McKey, elected eight years ago, said that, despite a caseload that has nearly tripled, the budget for his office has remained the same.

"I subsidize the office for certain expenses. The only fees that are going up are the ones the funeral home is charging the county," he said, adding that the funeral home was now owned by Service Corporation International.

Grant Mortuary Funeral Home director and coroner candidate Jesse Arthurs disputed the claim that funeral home fees have been increased.

"We have charged the same fees that Owen Grant charged. What he (McKey) is not telling you is that the budget is based on call volume. The death rate is up — expenses are more," Arthurs said.

Democrat Alex Brown is also challenging McKey. Brown has neither medical training, like McKey, nor previous mortuary or corner experience, like Arthurs. Instead, his background is in law enforcement, which adds to the job by "knowing what to look for and what to collect.”

Brown is seeking to continue service to the community once he retires from the sheriff's office. His name will appear only on Democratic primary ballots. When the general election rolls around in the fall, he said, "I ask my Republican friends to hold your nose and push the 'D.'"

Another contested race in the primaries is the race for County Commissioner District 3, currently held by Moe. Moe is being challenged by former commissioner Tom Mathers and Sombrero Ranches General Manager Donald Broom.

Reader questions and candidate statements focused on experience and the county budget, which is in trouble in light of declining tax revenues.

"I'm not for raising taxes," Moe said, adding that he believes priority-based budgeting — a system adopted by the county during his term — and 3 and 5-year planning provides tools that will allow the county to work with other entities for cost savings.

"Working together, we can find plenty of ways to support our county," he said.

Broom, who said he has thought a lot about running for commissioner during the past three years, cited his experience running a ranch that operates in multiple states with a fleet of vehicles "larger than what the county has. … I'm the general manager of Sombrero Ranches, not some little bitty ranching outfit."

“There has to be some communication and some leadership, and the number one thing for me is the kids. They are our future. The next is our seniors, because they helped build this county,” Broom said.

Alternately, Mathers has served as commissioner three separate times and feels he is still a good fit for the job.

“I know what it's like to go from good times to some really, really terrible times. We've been through that,” he said. “We are going through a phase that is bad for the county, but there are houses being sold, businesses being opened." 

The forum was streamed live on the Craig Press Facebook page. The video can be viewed on Facebook or online.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.

How to participate in the primary

Unaffiliated voters are now able to participate

  • June 4 — Primary ballots begin to go out in the mail. Unaffiliated voters who did not request a Democratic or Republican ballot by May 29 will receive two ballots, one for each party, but only one ballot can be cast for the vote to be counted.
  • June 18 — Last day to register and receive a primary ballot in the mail.
  • June 26 — Primary Election Day, all ballots must be cast by 7 p.m.

Ballots may be mailed to, dropped off at or cast in person at the voter service and polling center in the Moffat County Courthouse.