Moffat County votes in new leadership
Craig's mayor to become commissioner — new mayor sought
A peaceful transition of power is a cornerstone of American democracy — whether it is welcoming a new president into office or changing the composition of local government.
After Tuesday’s election, Moffat County has two new county commissioners, and the reactions of those who competed in the race exemplify the spirit of American democracy.
“I just really wish them both well,” said Andrea Camp, who was defeated by Don Cook in the District 1 race. “As they get to work for Moffat County, I hope we can see them accomplish some really great things in the next four years.”
In the 2016 election, two seats on the Board of Moffat County Commissioners were up for grabs.
In District 1, the race was between Commissioner John Kinkaid, who ran as an independent, Republican Don Cook and write-in candidate Andrea Camp, also a Republican.
Craig Mayor Ray Beck ran unopposed for the District 2 seat.
Cook defeated Kinkaid with 2,694 votes and was followed by Camp with 1,931 votes. Kinkaid received 1,623 votes.
Beck walked away with 5,252 votes.
Although he will be leaving office as commissioner, Kinkaid said he was extremely grateful to serve Moffat County over the past four years and he trusts the results.
“I fully accept the election results and Moffat County voters, I think, made a good decision,” he said. “They always have in the past.”
Kinkaid said he is optimistic for the future of Northwest Colorado and will remain available to help in whatever capacity he can.
“I wish Moffat County all the best in the years ahead, and I’m looking forward to the future with a vibrant economy,” he said.
Cook said he is excited to join the Board of Moffat County Commissioners, but he understands the amount of work and commitment that comes along with the position.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us because of the budget and county revenues, which we’re going to have to manage,” he said. “But, I think we can do it.”
His first priority remains the budget and working around anticipated revenue shortfalls for the county in the future, Cook said.
“We have to prepare,” he said.
Cook said another focus is maintaining communication and positive relationships with county employees, the city of Craig, The Memorial Hospital, Moffat County School District and numerous other local entities.
“We’ve got to start talking and working together,” he said.
In the District 2 race, Beck ran unopposed, taking the seat of Commissioner Chuck Grobe, who elected not to run for a second term.
“I’m very elated,” Beck said. “I’m overwhelmed and I’m looking forward to working with the other two commissioners moving into 2017.”
Beck has outlined priorities for his time in office — jobs and the economy, fighting the “continued onslaught of mandated rules and regulations that affect our local economy” and balancing the budget.
“These are things that we’re going to have to address,” he said. “These are tough challenges and decisions to make but we’re going to do it collectively and together. That’s how it’s got to work.”
Beck will continue to serve as Craig’s mayor through the end of 2016 but will issue a letter of resignation at the Dec. 13 city council meeting. After he leaves city council at the beginning of January, Councilor Kent Nielson will act as mayor pro tem until the April 2017 city election.
Nielson said he is ready to take on the leadership position and is very pleased with the result of Tuesday’s elections. He does not, however, intend to run for mayor in April’s election.
“I’m very optimistic,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing (Beck) on the county commission. I think it will definitely be a good opportunity for the city and the county to keep our communication going and to better our communications.”
Councilor John Ponikvar echoed Nielson’s sentiments.
“I’m really excited about (Beck) going over there,” he said. “He’s really done a great job for the Craig City Council in the few years he’s been there. He’s worked hard for the council and he’s worked hard for the community.”
With Beck leaving his position as mayor, an election will be held in April 2017 to fill the seat.
Ponikvar said he is considering running for mayor, and he has heard from others making the same consideration.
“I’m not going to make any announcements at this time, but I’m certainly considering it,” he said.
District 3 Commissioner Frank Moe, who is up for reelection in 2019, said he is excited to welcome the new commissioners to the board.
“It’s going to be a great board of county commissioners,” he said.
Contact Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or Contact Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or pkelly@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.Contact Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or pkelly@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.
As part of Moffat County High School’s Class of 2019 graduation ceremony, outgoing students took the opportunity to express their creativity, honor their past and look to the future atop their mortarboards.