Crestone Eagle, November 2002:
Candidates court Crestone vote at
by Matie Belle Lakish
The Crestone-Moffat Business Association once
again brought the candidates face-to-face with their potential
constituency on October 20. The Desert Sage donated space,
and area residents responded by filling the hall and asking
thoughtful questions that gave candidates an opportunity to
“show their stuff”. Hotly contested state races
for House District 60 and State Senate District 5, as well
as lively County Commissioner, County Clerk, and Sheriff contests
make this an important election. Candidates for all of these
seats presented summaries of their positions and answered
tough questions, giving residents a better-than-average opportunity
to assess the candidates. Dennis Neuhaus skillfully moderated.
Connie Trujillo, County Treasurer, and Jacqueline Stephens,
County Assessor, are running unopposed, but both thanked Crestonians
for their support, and for participating so enthusiastically
in the recent auction of tax delinquent properties that netted
around $335,000, some of which will provide courthouse access
for elderly and handicapped patrons.
County Clerk and Recorder, Marlene Pruitt, is retiring this
year, and her position is being sought by Republican Audrey
Conley and Democrat Melinda Myers. Audrey has worked in the
Clerk's office for six years and states that she is experienced
in all aspects of the job. She has two years of college in
Business Administration from Adams State. Melinda, Moffat
resident and former school board member, states that she has
20 years of business and management experience, including
running her own Nature's Sundance floral and gift shop next
to the credit union. Melinda has a B.S. in Agriculture.
Sheriff’s candidate Mike Norris is a Democrat and is
opposed by independent candidate Gregg Lewis. Mike, a Saguache
resident, has been in law enforcement for 14 years, all of
which is in this county. He helped build the capacity of the
local Search and Rescue and applauds their skill and training.
He supports open communication with citizens, strong officer
accountability, and budgetary and fiscal responsibility to
taxpayers. Gregg Lewis has been a Valley rancher for 35 years
and has worked in law enforcement for 5 1/2 years. He stated
that he wants to give something back to the people of the
Tom Perrin, the only candidate for County Coroner, explained
that coroners work independently of law enforcement to investigate
and determine the cause of death and are the only ones authorized
to remove a body from the scene of death. He urged passage
of Referendum C, which would provide for minimum qualifications
and training for Colorado coroners.
County Commissioner candidates, Republican Joseph Alexander
and Democrat Peter Peterson, both agree that major issues
for the County are growth, water, and money. Joe, the current
commissioner, wants to keep the County essentially rural by
keeping parcel size at a minimum of 35 to 40 acres. He also
wants to keep water here in the Valley and to work with the
limited revenue to keep taxes low. He said it is important
to him to treat everyone equally. Peter called for greater
community involvement in County decision making. He favors
protecting the rural qualities of the County, but he would
support more sustainable family farms and businesses, to build
an economic base that will encourage youth to return here
to live, and would look at innovative ways of clustering homes
to provide a sense of community while protecting open space.
Crestone has been included in the new Colorado House District
60, and both Lola Spradley, Republican incumbent, and Emily
Tracy, Democratic candidate, spoke about the unorthodox redistricting
process that created the district.
Lola has served as representative for five years and is currently
house majority leader. She has been working on rural health
care issues of availability and affordability. She also cited
her work on open space and conservation easements and her
passion for preserving the agricultural lifestyle of Colorado,
as well as attempting to keep more water in Colorado.
Emily described the new house district, which is essentially
rural. Protection of rural water is a high priority, and she
is involved in a coalition of 58 rural counties working to
preserve local water and mitigate the consequences on communities
when water is moved. She believes the state could provide
more technical support to rural communities to speed economic
development, and she stated her strong support for public
and charter schools. She would examine state finances and
seek some changes to the TABOR amendment before entire programs
Rafael Lorenzo Gallegos is the Democratic candidate for Colorado
Senate District 5. Lewis Entz, Republican incumbent, was not
present. Mr. Gallegos, a meteorologist from Conejos County,
mentioned that current weather patterns are expected to last
for another 12 to 15 months, making local control of water
vital to rural areas.
Bill McClure, current commissioner, campaigned to extend
term limits for County Commissioners from 8 years to 12 years.
Generally, the argument used for extending term limits is
a difficulty in recruiting candidates. That is rarely the
case for commissioner, however. Mr. McClure wants to continue
working on issues that he anticipates will be unfinished in
two years when his second term expires.
A tax levy for a Northern Saguache County Ambulance District
to serve rural areas and the town of Crestone is on the ballot.
POA members would not pay the tax, because they currently
fund the Baca Ambulance through POA dues. The Baca ambulance
would continue to serve areas outside the Baca, but would
be able to recoup some expenses, which is not now the case.
A lively discussion followed, with questions regarding redistricting,
social services, and the use of excessive force by Sheriff’s
Deputies. But, by far, the overriding concern for all was—water.
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