Tri-State workers round Council applicants |

Tri-State workers round Council applicants

Collin Smith

For more

Check "City taking applications for Council vacancy" at http://www.craigdailypre... for information on Craig City Council applicants Chris Nichols and Dave VanWagner.

"Four new residents enter Council race" - also on the Web site - profiles applicants Brianna Wilensky and Gene Bilodeau.

— Two workers from the Tri-State power plant are in the running for a Craig City Council vacancy.

Cleeve Preece and Rusty Cox stand alongside Brianna Wilensky, Colorado North-

western Community College Craig campus dean Gene Bilodeau, former Craig Fire/Rescue chief Chris Nichols, and real estate agent and appraiser Dave VanWagner, as the six applicants the Council plans to interview before its Feb. 12 meeting.

Whoever receives a majority vote from the Council will assume the seat vacated by Rod Compton, who resigned Jan. 8.

If the Council cannot reach a majority, the city has 120 days to conduct a general election.

The everyman

Preece, 60, has lived in the area his whole life, he said.

He has a degree from Colorado State University, ranches some and has worked at the Tri-State power plant in Craig for the past 16 years.

“I thought it was about time to get involved,” he added.

When asked what he thought he could add to the City Council, he immediately recalled the hard times gone past.

“There are a lot of problems out there,” Preece said. “This area might fall on its face because it can’t continue to support all this growth. I’ve seen Craig go through the boom and bust period before. I thought I could add to the situation so we don’t go through something like that again. It was pretty bad here, and it took us a long time to get out of that.”

The problem with growth leading up to 1982’s Black Monday, when energy companies pulled out of the regional Navy Oil Shale, was that Craig didn’t have a plan, Preece said.

“We grew too fast,” he said. “We weren’t prepared for those kinds of changes.”

Then the floor got ripped out from underneath the community, Preece added.

“The City Council is doing an excellent job with the growth now and managing that,” he said. “With my age, my experience, my lifetime here in Craig, the things I’ve seen – I love this community, I love where we’ve lived all our lives – I thought I could help continue the good direction we’re going.”

The man with ‘nothing to gain’

Cox, 28, will be the first to tell you he’s not a politician.

“I have nothing to gain from this,” he said.

He said as a younger family man, he can offer the board a local perspective it doesn’t have.

“I just want to go in there and work hard and step up to the plate and see if we can make some changes,” he said. “I’d like to see somebody a little younger on that board. Get a little different point of view.”

First, that means more activities for Craig’s youth.

As president of the Craig Soccer Club, Cox works with young people all the time, he said.

“I want to see something more for the kids,” Cox said. “I think it’s a great thing, what parks and rec does for the city, they provide a valuable service for the families around here.”

Soccer Club also has made him familiar with Craig’s growing Hispanic population, he said.

“I feel that I have a pretty strong tie there that some of the other candidates might not have,” Cox said.

Cox is a longtime member of the community. He moved here when he was in the fifth grade and has never lived anywhere else since, he said.

Between his parents owning Cox Bros. Saw Mill, his time spent working construction and working at Tri-State for about five years, Cox said he has learned about business and the value of hard work.

After fathering a son at a young age and then adopting two children with his wife, he knows about challenge and continuing in the face of adversity, he said.

The lessons and ethics he learned from his past can help make him a valuable Councilor, he said.

“I want to be there to work,” Cox said. “I want to be there to provide some services for the community.”

Collin Smith can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or

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