New Craig mayor, councilmen react to successful election campaigns
The newly-elected officials on the Craig City Council say they’re ready to go to work for city residents on issues of transparency and economic diversity.
After announcing unofficial vote totals late Tuesday, April 2, City Clerk Liz White said Brian MacKenzie, Paul James, and Steven Mazzuca will replace outgoing council members Joe Bird, who hit his term limit; Derek Duran, who decided not to run again; and Jarrod Ogden — who mounted a successful challenge to incumbent Mayor John Ponikvar.
In an interview Wednesday, Ponikvar said he has no plans to fight the election results and conceded defeat without asking for a recount.
He said Paul James’ election to council with more votes than any other candidate is a telling sign, as James’ candidacy was based almost entirely on legalizing recreational marijuana sales in the conservative community of Craig.
“I think that’s a telling sign of how our community is changing,” Ponikvar said.
Having served the Craig community on various boards for the past three decades, Ponikvar said he plans to put more time into his NAPA Auto Parts business and might serve on at least one other nonprofit board.
“I’ll still be involved in the community,” Ponikvar said. “At least one group already reached out to me.”
Moments after learning of his win over Ponikvar, Mayor-elect Jarrod Ogden said he was excited to enact his plans to partner with area agencies to bolster Craig’s economy. He said he also plans to let city staff do what they do best and “let department heads do their jobs.”
In an interview Thursday, James said his election to city council marks milestone in his life that has been decades in the making.
“I’ve been interested in politics since I was 15,” James said. “To me, this was something that I had to do.”
James said he’s interested in working with residents of Shadow Mountain to possibly get the area annexed into the city limits.
“I want to get them engaged in that,” James said. “But looking at the map, it looks like they’re in the city to me.”
While legalizing and setting the framework for recreational cannabis sales in Craig is a major priority for James, he said he wants to get the community involved more by streaming council meetings online.
“I’m just one person. I’m one out of seven …” he said. “It’s going to take community involvement to actually get change. I do appreciate the support, but it can’t end there.”
Brian MacKenzie said he, too, looks forward to starting work for the residents of Craig.
“I’m honored,” MacKenzie said Thursday.
MacKenzie is another new councilman who wants to make streaming meetings online a priority. He said transparency in all city government dealings is of utmost importance.
“I’m hoping I can be the voice to the people that I said I would be and be able to provide that level of transparency and communication on topics that this city deserves and needs,” MacKenzie said.
Mazzuca said Thursday that transparency is also among his priorities, agreeing with his fellow newly elected councilmen that the city should stream meetings online for residents unable to attend. Mazzuca also wants to see a revamped city website that welcomes visitors and tells them more about Craig and its elected officials.
“If I go on the website right now, I’d love to see who are the council members with pictures and maybe some history — what they’re about — and the city’s goals,” Mazzuca said.
Mazzuca thanked the residents of Craig and hopes to work hard for them.
“I want to say ‘thank you for electing me,’” Mazzuca said. “I’ll definitely work as hard as I can to meet the needs and concerns of the people.”
Contact Clay Thorp at 970-875-1795 or cthorp@CraigDailyPress.com.
The Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters will move to Grand Junction.