Traditionally, newspapers endorse political candidates and support or oppose issues on election ballots. I'm a traditional kind of person, I guess, so it's time to follow a time-honored practice.
But I'm not totally comfortable telling people how they should vote. And I don't know how many voters actually consider a newspaper editor's opinion when it comes to something like this. I expect I'll get a few angry calls and emails, but that won't be the first time.
So, over the next several weeks, leading up to Election Day on Nov. 6, you can find out who I think is best for the county in the two races for Garfield County commissioner and if two ballot questions, Rifle's sales tax hike and the open space sales tax measure, should pass or fail.
County voters are lucky to have four knowledgeable, informed and committed candidates for county commissioner in both District 2 and 3. Today, let's talk about Republican incumbent John Martin and Democratic challenger Sonja Linman in District 2.
Martin brings 16 years of experience in office and dealing with the myriad issues facing the county. Some, including Linman, question if Martin has grown too accustomed to elected office and it's time for new blood, new ideas.
While I haven't agreed with all of Martin's positions over the years, I've come to respect his stances on the issues as what he feels is best for the county and its residents.
Many people think he and his GOP compatriots are too much in league with the natural gas industry. I've had that thought occur to me from time to time.
Linman supports economic diversification, focusing on areas such as electronics, financial and business services, food and agriculture, health and wellness, information and technology, tourism and recreation, infrastructure and engineering, bioscience, the New Energy Economy and education.
Those are all worthy of attention. In the meantime, there are local folks and families struggling to put food on their tables and a roof over their heads. Can they, and we, afford to wait until these other business sectors start offering jobs with livable wages?
Linman also questions the intent of the commissioner's recent moves to change county land use codes and their ill-advised private meeting in Utah to craft a since-abandoned resolution that supported oil shale development. (Didn't any of the commissioners get a funny feeling in their gut when they went to this meeting? I've learned to "go with your gut" in those types of situations.)
Linman has been a county resident and community member for 23 years herself. She is a longtime teacher and well-versed on the issues. She talks about bringing more openness and communication to the county, always worthy positions for all residents, especially someone in my profession. And she would bring new blood and new ideas, which should always be welcomed.
A strong point in Martin's favor is the healthy economic condition of the county - no debt, close to $100 million in reserves that were nowhere near that amount when he was first elected. While he can't take all the credit for putting the county on sound financial footing, it did happen during his watch.
So to summarize, I think term limits should only apply to federal and state elected officials, so the argument that Martin has served too long doesn't convince me.
Everyone wants economic diversification, but reality is a different matter, in the short term at least.
The current commissioners blew it with their meeting in Utah and had to pay court costs to settle a lawsuit as a result.
Bottom line: Who will serve Garfield County the best? John Martin.
- Mike McKibbin