Heidi RiceTelegram Staff Writer

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January 30, 2008
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Retired Rifle judge running for county commissioner

RIFLE Steve Carters name is a familiar one to those in the Rifle area.And it may become more familiar if the former Garfield County judge is successful in his run to become a county commissioner in Novembers election.Carter, a Democrat and partner in the Carter & Sands law firm in Rifle, retired as county judge in 2004 after 32 years on the job.I am not the Steve Carter thats in real estate or the guy that turns his movies in late at City Market, Carter said with a laugh.Carter announced his candidacy for the District 3 commissioner seat on Tuesday in Parachute, Rifle and Glenwood Springs.Im running because the people here have been really good to me, he said. Ive learned a lot, and its time to give back.The District 3 seat is currently held by Republican Larry McCown, who is not seeking re-election. Republican Mike Samson announced his candidacy for the seat in November. Samson is a native of Glenwood Springs and a 1972 graduate of Rifle High School, where he is now dean of students.Carter said he feels that county government needs someone who will listen not only to constituents from their party but to everyone.There are a lot of people who are being ignored by two of the three county commissioners, Carter said, referring to McCown and fellow Republican Commissioner John Martin. I am running so we can take Garfield County back. The goal of the commissioners should be to make the best choices for all, without regard to party affiliation.Carter said his many years of experience as a county judge would be an asset if he is elected. He said his the ability to listen to everyone from sportsmen and outdoors enthusiasts to motorcycle enthusiasts whose ranks he recently joined as well as ranchers and local government officials up and down the valley would be a strong point.I have the background to listen and make a decision and be fair, he said. Thats what Ive been doing for 32 years.Born in New York City, the 62-year-old Carter has lived in Colorado since he was 13. Carter attended the University of Colorado and graduated with a degree in journalism and then served in the Peace Corps in Colombia. Upon his return, he came back to Colorado and earned his law degree from the University of Colorado, working his first job as a deputy district attorney in Glenwood Springs while living in Carbondale in 1971.In 1972, he moved to Rifle, where he continues to live today, and was appointed as Garfield County judge in Rifle. Still in his 20s, he was the youngest judge in the state of Colorado. He also served as the juvenile court judge in Glenwood Springs for several years and has been a soccer referee for more than 13 years.My whole professional career, both as a judge and on the soccer field, has required that I listen to all sides and make the fair and right decision regardless of whether or not its popular, Carter said. The voters must have agreed, because every four years I was successfully retained in office.Of course, in true Carter humor, he also smiles and points out that he was never opposed. In Colorado, voters decide whether to retain judges, but dont elect them in contested races.My record of being re-elected is unmatched, Carter says with a laugh.But his goal of serving as the District 3 Garfield County commissioner is serious. Carter would like to see the commissioners make better long-range plans and tackle issues such as road and bridge improvements, the need for a county animal shelter, oil and gas issues facing the county, affordable housing and regular communication with local municipal governments.There are so many opportunities (the commissioners) have missed either deliberately or by design, he said. Id like to change that. Id like to listen to people that actually live here. The biggest issue is obviously gas exploration, which needs to balance the interests of everyone including citizens, workers, visitors, industry and employers.Rifle, CO Colorado


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The Post Independent Updated Jan 30, 2008 02:02AM Published Jan 30, 2008 02:02AM Copyright 2008 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.