Jo Ann Baxter was my history teacher in high school. She made history interesting to her students because of her enthusiasm, passion and knowledge of history. This intensity that Ms. Baxter brought to the classroom is the same devotion that I feel she will bring to representing the citizens of House District 57.
I have called Ms. Baxter several times over the past few years to ask her questions about the American system of government, and her answers were accurate and compelling. Our discussion over the phone about the Electoral College versus the popular vote was my favorite, and she explained to me the advantages of the electoral system.
We need a representative from our community who has studied history and government for a lifetime and who has earned a PhD in educational leadership along the way, further demonstrating her energy and work ethic.
In one of our conversations, she stated that we need a well-educated populace in order to improve our economic status. My father was a teacher in Craig for more than 25 years, and he always stressed the importance of a good education and in improving our schools. This same spirit is alive and well in Jo Ann Baxter.
In another discussion, she and I talked about the importance of coal in our area and in the state of Colorado. Ms. Baxter said to me that without coal, Craig and its surrounding area would not be as prosperous as it is today and that coal is very important to our energy needs. She also said the mines provide coal miners with permanent work, and these individuals contribute to and build a strong community.
It is time, fellow voters, that we have a well-informed, energetic candidate represent us from our community in Craig; someone who will take our concerns to the House and be a voice for education and energy in our state. Vote Jo Ann Baxter in House District 57.
Voting is a privilege which each citizen should cherish. It is also a responsibility. Maybe we need to start a policy like what they have in New Zealand. If you don't vote there, you must pay a $50 fine.
My stomach turns when someone says, "I don't like either candidate, so I'm not going to vote." Each person needs to evaluate a candidate's views on important issues, then decide which candidate's views are closest to their own.
If you decide to not vote, then for the next two, four or more years, do not complain about the direction your local community, state or country take.
Fellow citizens, have you noticed that since the horrendous hurricane hit Eastern America, no major Republican politicians are talking about balancing the budget? I would especially like to send this letter to Paul Ryan. I find all of this very interesting.
There are many reasons not to vote. The relentless political ads filled with negativity. Annoying phone calls. The billions of dollars spent on campaigning. Or maybe as a silent way to protest the system.
Whatever a person's reason is not to vote, there are even more reasons to vote. It is up to you to determine what is important to you, the community and the state. Get educated on the candidates and amendments that will best serve what you believe in.
For me the driving factor is the Environment with a capital E. Not only do I think this is the most important issue we will face, I think it is an issue that will unite all walks of life and fix many of the other things we call problems, such as the economy and education. If we can unite as people who care for the land that supports us, then we can create a thriving economy that creates jobs.
For this reason, all of my votes land Democratic. In a swing state like Colorado, our presidential vote will matter. Although a vote for President Obama is not the best for the environment, it is leaps and bounds ahead of the environmental destruction Gov. Romney will impose on my generation and future generations to come.
The Garfield County commissioner races may be the most important election. A vote for Aleks Briedis and Sonja Linman is invaluable to the protection of Thompson Divide from oil and gas drilling. And by voting yes on Garfield County Question 1A, we can enhance land conservation.
If we want to protect the beautiful state we live in and create a world where future generations can drink the water and breathe the air, please vote for the representatives who will make this happen. I hope readers vote for what they find to be in the best interest of the community and the people.
I am more than happy to further discuss this upcoming election and the environmental impacts with anyone and can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Now vote already, would ya!
I've heard many political ads stating how genuinely concerned for common individuals our current county commissioners are. The ads elaborate how they "get things done for us," the individuals of Garfield County.
My experience has been very different and so has that of numerous others I have spoken with in the last two years. While researching the history of a mysteriously unowned portion of Colt Drive adjoining my property, where a large sinkhole has formed and which Garfield County refuses to admit responsibility for, I have visited with many people.
Following are exact quotes I received regarding our county officials:
"They are very difficult to deal with, I wish you luck"; "Coupled with the county's difficult nature makes it a daunting task"; and "Sorry you are having so much trouble. That's the same argument they used on me."
And another, "They are very difficult to work with."
"I'm tired of banging my head against the wall trying to get the county to listen," and add to that, "We had to fight with them for two years before anything got done."
My personal favorite was, "It seems Garfield County has taken dance lessons and learned the Washington two-step." And lastly, "More than likely the commissioners at the time were just like everyone else, in it for the revenue."
Similarly, here are actual replies I received from Garfield County departments: from the public works director, "The BOCC has not directed staff to pursue any mitigation work. Further, I have no direction to pursue any action at this time." And, "In response, county staff will be taking no action at this time."
From the county attorney, "I have no new information at this time." And after inquiring with the assessor, clerk and treasurer about the general rule of unclaimed property, "At this point, I will advise you to contact the assistant county attorney with further questions."
I realize that government officials have certain steps and procedures to follow. But these quotes don't seem to reflect an entity wanting to help or work with the common individual.
Garfield County is lucky to contain public open lands, but that is only a part of a bigger picture. It is essential we keep intact our healthy river corridors, agriculture, winter range for wildlife and recreation opportunities, which are often privately stewarded. There are significant and tangible public benefits associated with these lands, whether or not they are ever made available for the public to access.
Sportsmen know that fish and game need winter habitat and clean water to sustain healthy populations. Often these key habitats are found on privately stewarded properties.
As the county continues to grow, it becomes all the more important to sustain our ranching, agriculture and local food economy, which are also privately owned. Moreover, a consumer research survey, prepared by Kelton Research in 2006, empirically demonstrates that a primary attractant of tourists to Glenwood Springs is the scenery and the views. These scenes and views are accessed only through our eyes, yet they attract visitors who spend their money in our county.
Question 1A provides an option for willing private landowners to protect these assets so that they may continue to provide both public and private benefits. Question 1A is tailored to provide the best mix of benefits to the county - with some opportunities directly supporting recreation and access, and others supporting our water, wildlife and working lands.
Open lands programs can be found all throughout the country. Colorado has 20 at the county level alone. These programs have a proven track record of providing value to the community, and of operating efficiently with strong accountability. Garfield County's program will include an annual audit, a local advisory committee, streamlined administration and will automatically sunset.
Question 1A provides something for everyone. Vote yes on 1A.
What is it about President Obama's yard signs that frighten the Republicans?
We live in the county about 25 miles from Glenwood Springs. I can count at least 25 Republicans political signs as I drive from my house to Glenwood.
We are the only residence with Democratic signs in our yard. Well, wouldn't you know it. The Obama sign must have really frightened someone, because a couple of nights ago, someone stole it. This same thing happened last election; strangely it didn't seem to sway the outcome of the 2008 election.
I wonder what the sign represented to the thieves. Is it because Obama is black? Is it because he represents the 1 percent, and the thieves want to continue the uneven balance between the 99 percent rest of us? Is it because he has a proven track record and they don't want to continue the progress that is happening?
To those who stole our yard sign, they must feel that it's going to make a big difference as to whether we have an Obama yard sign and who is going to win the election. All I can say is that it didn't make a difference in the last election, and I hope it doesn't make a difference this time either.
I take this small act as a prelude to what Mitt Romney would do to our country.
He states small classroom size is being pushed by teacher's unions and that it has nothing to do with students learning. As a retired educator, it has been proven time after time that small classroom size is instrumental to a positive learning experience for students. Beware, parents and teachers. If Romney is elected, you will see the quality of child's education take a drastic turn for the worse.
Just to let my friends know that the other Mike Blair, from Glenwood Springs, has written a couple of letters to the editor recently exulting as to how great the local Republicans are. I am sure that my friends in the valley knew that those letters were not from me.
Michael P. Blair
Since watching the latest Garfield BOCC meeting, I am more convinced than ever that Sonja Linman and Aleks Briedis need to be Garfield County's new commissioners.
At that meeting, I heard John Martin explain that a four-year-old socio-economic study was too outdated to be included in the BLM's environmental impact statement (EIS), and that the BOCC wanted a 90-day extension to make sure a new study was completed before the EIS was reviewed.
This past summer our BOCC pursued and succeeded in contracting with the American Stewards of Liberty to make sure their existing four-year-old sage grouse working plan is included in the BLM's EIS concerning listing the sage grouse as an endangered species.
In one case, our current BOCC allocated $20,000 to make sure their four-year-old sage grouse study is included in an EIS, but this week they decided a four-year-old socio-economic study was too old to be included in an EIS.
How much will this new socio-economic study cost us? When is a study too old and unreliable? I would guess that it depends on whether the study meets the special interests of the BOCC, and the interests of the oil and gas industry.
Our current commissioners have not shown a consistent method of decision making.
I have already voted for Ms. Linman and Mr. Briedis. I envision them taking into consideration the wants, desires, needs, and wishes of all the citizens of Garfield County, on matters that have long-term and short-term benefits and consequences.
In their own careers they've proven themselves competent, through their reliability and consistency. In their campaigns, they've shared progressive and inclusive methods of making decisions that consider as many of the environmental, social, and economic aspects as possible, with the help of their constituents.
Give your votes to Ms. Linman and Mr. Briedis.
It appears Mitt Romney would have been equally as inept at handling this recent hurricane recovery as George Bush was during Katrina. Must be that 47 percent thing.
The Oct. 30 edition had letters from three of our most prolific anti-Obama writers. Allow me a rebuttal.
I don't have the time or energy to again address Stan Rachesky's "the president is a socialist" and now a dictator, rant.
Dennis Yost's point taken. Declaring to close Gitmo was a desire coming from a humanitarian and constitutional perspective. The potential political battle was too great to pursue when his leadership and party unity were required elsewhere.
On unemployment: When the president took office, we were dealing with an economic crisis of unheard-of proportions since the Great Depression. Americans are beginning to see improvement, and it will continue.
In regards to Libya: Mr. Yost is repeating the maligned reproach of Gov. Romney over semantics. The president did, in fact, call it an act of terror the day after the attack. Given Mr. Yost's propensity to hold this president accountable before the facts are sorted, it goes in hand that we should've had George Bush tried and banished for his lack of response to prior warnings of 9/11.
The education and jobs point Bob Anderson mentioned is an American issue. Its cause and blame can be spread across decades. It's a failure to streamline the educational process to meet the immediate corporate and technological needs of enterprise.
In my opinion, universal health care is a moral imperative. It's as basic a human quality as there is. If someone walking on the sidewalk in front of you falls down, you stop, help them to their feet, and tend to their wounds as best you can. The current Obamacare law may need some tweaking, but we're on the right path.
And yes, Mr. Anderson, without evidence to the contrary, there may very well be a Santa Claus. But as regards climate change, the facts are the facts - dying coral reefs and receding glaciers to name two of the many.
I am writing to fellow community members who may still be undecided in the Garfield County commissioner race. For those of you who may not know Sonja Linman, I am writing to share why I am proud to say I cast my vote for her for county commissioner.
I have known Ms. Linman for more than 20 years. I have witnessed her grow from an impassioned and compassionate educator to an active civic leader. What I will tell you is that when you place your vote for her, you will be electing a woman with integrity. She walks her talk. Always has, always will.
She is an intelligent woman who will listen to our concerns. Ms. Linman has the capacity and wherewithal to intelligently weigh the potential results of the complex issues facing Garfield County. As a psychotherapist and her friend, I can personally attest to many late nights when Ms. Linman put her own needs aside, in service to one of her students and their families. Being a teacher isn't just a "job" for her, and I have no doubt she will bring the same level of energy, enthusiasm and commitment, to her work as a county commissioner.
Sixteen years is a long time to be sitting in the same chair. It's time for someone with a broader view, someone who can see beyond what we've come to know from the people who have been elected to serve our interests, not their own.
I've already expressed my great support for Sonja Linman to be elected as county commissioner for District 2. I stepped up to the plate, as an independent, unaffiliated voter, and volunteered time to help with her campaign; and in the whole process, I've gotten to know the other candidates backed by the Dems.
I don't approve of national political parties, but sometimes the local people involved, such as Ms. Linman, are gems. One other gem is Aleks Briedis, candidate for county commissioner District 3, who has the heart and soul of a real patriot; meaning one who will, as a father would, stand up to protect and defend the health and rights of his kin and neighbors even from his own king - and locally, that king seems more and more to be the gas, oil and coal companies.
Linguistically, Ms. Linman, with her mother's fierceness, is a "matriot."
Another gem is Jessica Garrow, candidate for CU Board of Regents (a volunteer position), who has travelled thousands of miles in one of the largest university regent districts in the U.S., to open lines of communications with constituents whose children may wish to go there, and companies who may wish to hire graduates from there. Ms. Garrow has an acute sense of where the school has been, and where it needs to go to be an affordable school for our children. She is a visionary matriot, focused on college level education.
Yet another gem is Jo Ann Baxter, who is running for the state House of Representatives, and is a gramatriot, to coin a new word. She carries many years of education experience and resultant wisdom, and being from a more Republican area, is used to getting down to the nitty-gritty of issues vs. party politics.
Finally, I support Emily Tracy, candidate for state Senate. She is a matriot (with a Republican husband) who is used to reaching solutions to problems that reach across party divides. An impressive woman, she reminds me a lot of Kathleen Curry, yet another gem.
Please vote for all these gems to represent us.
John Martin ends his recent radio ads by saying that he likes his job and would like to continue doing it. So did the county employees that he and the other commissioners fired for purely political reasons. They're all masters of projecting folksy, down-to-earth, average-guy images while they're busy rewriting land use codes to serve the interests of themselves and their big money, oil and gas campaign contributors - wolves in sheep's clothing.
Those codes were developed by public process to balance commercial development with our delicate landscape and watersheds. When Mr. Martin says that the commissioner's office is a republic instead of a democracy, you should all wonder if it's your interest he's looking after.
Sonja Linman understands that she must listen to the citizenry and make decisions based on their wishes. She understands that the resort economy that so many thousands of us depend upon directly also depends on balancing commercial development with environmental protections. Tourists don't come here and spend millions to see gas wells - we have enough wells already. Neither Linman nor Alexis Briedis have taken money from oil and gas, to ensure their objectivity.
Our current BOCC has repeatedly embraced the potential for oil shale development in Garfield County. If you're a fisherman, rafter, kayaker or just appreciate rivers and healthy water supplies, you should be extremely skeptical of fracking, and I encourage a vote for Ms. Linman and Mr. Briedis. I know personally that Ms. Linman has the intellect and commitment to be a good commissioner, and the soul to be a great one.
The hyperbole coming from the left is relentless, yet very dangerous, because when these exaggerations are repeated enough, some people start to believe it.
Newspapers, union activists, environmental groups, bloggers, etc., try to whip us into a frenzy every day with scary predictions, wild accusations and downright lies. They attack people of great accomplishment in business (something so terrible as being vice-president of Ford Aerospace, one prolific writer screams about Bob Rankin) as if success in business is something to be ashamed of.
If our officials are not 100 percent against the gas and oil industry, this crowd shrieks louder and claims our officials are owned by that industry. Anybody with a grasp of facts knows that our county commissioners are not in the pocket of any industry.
These same groups will oppose just about any business that dares to start up or grow in our beloved county. Really, why would any business want to come to Garfield County and face the inquisition of the surly, unreasonable group of activists that will inevitably rise up and fight against someone's right to do business in our community?
During these past economically brutal years, Garfield County has been extremely well managed, with a $100 million-plus surplus, thanks to the great leadership and wisdom of John Martin, Mike Samson and Tom Jankovsky.
If you realize how fortunate we are as a county to be in this position, vote for John Martin and Mike Samson for re-election. If you want more regulations, more outrageous fuel prices, higher taxes and even tougher times, vote for their opponents. It truly is as simple as that.
Also, if you respect a principled, highly intelligent, philanthropic businessman who will wisely represent Garfield County in Denver, vote for Bob Rankin for House District 57.
The Republicans believe that we should give big business anything they want because they are job creators. Republicans are especially adamant about less regulations, which they claim stifle job growth. Nevertheless, the philosophy seems to be: If it costs environmental degradation and a few lives along the way, so be it. After all, it's not the church but the employers who provide our daily bread.
You don't think that fewer regulations result in lost lives? The recent meningitis outbreak caused by the Massachusetts-based pharmaceutical company New England Compounding caused two dozen deaths. The outbreak and deaths have a direct link to the philosophy of less government regulations as espoused by Mitt Romney.
For many years while Romney was the Massachusetts governor, the company received several regulatory citations, some on pharmaceutical products that adversely affected patients, including one who developed meningitis. The company received a serious but by no means draconian reprimand, which, considering we're talking about peoples' health and lives, was well deserved. What did Romney and his gubernatorial administration do? They withdrew the reprimand, including oversight by an outside agency, and instead let the company monitor itself.
I remember a speech George Bush gave to a large audience of power company employees, saying he would not regulate the business because he knew they would do the right thing. The funny thing is, those who really make those kinds of decisions were not standing in front of Bush but behind him in full support. A company's first and foremost obligation is to make money for its executives and shareholders. We the people may come second, but my bet is they have other priorities as well.
By the way, guess who made a contribution to Romney's gubernatorial campaign.
On Oct. 31 I received another piece of mail from a candidate for commissioner who makes all sorts of promises to "restore good county government." Our county of Garfield is currently one of the top 10-rated counties in the United States because of our fiscally sound position of not owing any debt on any of our physical assets, and having a cash cushion of $100 million. Our county of Garfield is in the best condition in the history of the county.
Back in 2008, the nation voted for "change" just for the sake of change. Look at the condition of our nation in 2012. Now, there are people in Garfield County who are promoting change just because they think it is time for a change.
Leading our county is not like taking turns at bat in a grade school game, where everyone gets a chance to play. Our county needs strong leaders who have actual knowledge about construction of roads and bridges, how to manage our assets, and also have an understanding of our water resources.
By the way, the last time I checked, the watershed of Garfield County does not run to the Gulf of Mexico. Anyone running for commissioner should know this.
As an agricultural business owner, I strongly urge a yes vote for Question 1A. The creation and funding of an open space program in Garfield County is long overdue. The enhancement and protection of our natural beauty, plentiful water, and abundant wildlife is a responsibility we all share.
We are lucky to have a great deal of public lands available for us all to use. We hunt, fish, ski and snowmobile in vast areas of public land. In addition, these public lands provide summer range for livestock, making the business of agricultural in Garfield County one of the most important sectors of our economy.
The public lands, however, are not suitable or available to sustain agricultural operations year around. This is what 1A is designed to do - help secure the land in the creek and river valleys for hay production and a home for livestock in the winter. Happily, this land also protects wildlife habitat, water, and provides a landscape that is beautiful.
The small $3.25 per month payment for an open space fund is an investment in a new economy to help diversify the one that is wearing out. This investment secures the resources necessary to build a thriving agricultural and recreation economic future.
Crystal River Meats has grown into a business that supports eight full-time employees and numerous seasonal employees, operating primarily on exactly the type of land that is proposed to be protected by 1A. We run cattle and sheep on lands that are going to be ranchland forever, thanks to such groups as Aspen Valley Land Trust and the Colorado Cattleman's Association Land Trust. We deliver more than 250,000 pounds of healthy, locally raised meat to the community annually, raised on some 2,500 acres of conserved land.
Vote for Question 1A, and secure land for local food production and jobs. Vote for Question 1A to keep our water clean, plentiful, and serving our economy. Question 1A is an excellent investment in a prosperous future.
Question 1A, the Ranchlands, Rivers and Recreation Economy measure, makes sense for many reasons, but let's focus on what matters most right now: our economy.
We know tourism and recreation are critical cogs in our economy, but scenic landscapes, recreational opportunities, and access to world-class hunting and fishing support more than just tourism; they underpin our quality of life.
In today's economy, communities that offer outstanding quality of life have the edge when it comes to attracting jobs, talent and investment. Preserving and enhancing assets that make this a special place to live is good for business.
By providing choices to landowners, 1A also supports our agricultural sector, a $30 million industry in Garfield County that provides more than 1,200 jobs. Local ranches also provide critical habitat for deer, elk and other wildlife. Given the importance of hunting to the local economy, protecting those areas is not just a sentimental gesture, it's a wise investment.
Lastly, 1A will leverage additional dollars from entities such as Great Outdoors Colorado. For example, the Gunnison County Open Lands Fund, which was a model for 1A, brings in $12 of outside funds for every $1 it spends from the program. That's a pretty good return on investment.
It's pretty simple. 1A will preserve and enhance the quality of life that makes Garfield County an attractive place to live, work and play. If passed, 1A will cost the average household about three bucks a month. That's less than a gallon of gas, but it's a smart investment to keep our economic engines running.
Unlike most Americans, the thing that concerns me most about election season isn't the dishonest behavior of candidates, but of voters. We act as if our government, at any given point in time, isn't a precise reflection of our own interest or indifference, our participation or inaction, or even, our affection or disdain. When in fact, it's exactly that.
Characterizing politics in terms of "us and them" makes it easier to demonize politicians and deny our own responsibility, whether we vote, or especially if we don't.
If you are disinterested and uninvolved in your relationships, business or education, those aspects of your life will suffer or fail. Why wouldn't the same be true in our representative democracy? As the political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville said, "In democracy we get the government we deserve."
By distancing ourselves from our own governance we cede our power to corporate money and influence, and allow ourselves to be lulled to sleep by network-media assurances of no differences between the candidates, keeping us tuned in, but out of the voting booth.
Election results are a reflection of us as a people. The question is, which candidate do you want looking back at you from your mirror come Nov. 7; the compassionate, inclusive, women-friendly President Obama, or Mitt Romney, the sexist, corporate-raiding shape-shifter?
"Whatever you do may seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it."
I first met Bob Rankin in 2000 while thinking about starting an education nonprofit. My inquiries led me to a group of people who were investigating the possibility of putting computers in the hands of families that were not able to afford them, led by Bob Rankin.
The nonprofit that was ultimately formed was Computers for Kids, C4K. Students and adults worked together to gather, refurbish, distribute and recycle old computers and provide Internet access to those in need.
I have come to know Bob Rankin well. His life and work history tell the story of a hardworking, dedicated, and determined man who strives to be the best at whatever he does.
Mr. Rankin grew up in southern Mississippi. He graduated from Mississippi State with an engineering degree, served four years in the U.S. Army, and went on to a distinguished career as an aerospace and computer industry executive. He started two small businesses in the Roaring Fork Valley and is currently CEO of wildernet.com, an outdoor recreation site, and peakware.com, a site for mountain climbers - just what you might expect of an outdoor sports and recreation enthusiast.
I'm writing this letter in response to a disturbing trend and some local letters to the editor that exhibit the unproductive tendency of attacking a person's character and motivations rather than their political solutions to problems we all agree exist and share a common interest in solving.
Mr. Rankin has been attacked as being unfit to serve because of the purchase price of his home, the geographical make-up of his supporters, the world he comes from and his supposed failure to understand our rural way of life. These comments serve only to obscure the issues and diminish the likelihood of good people being able to come together to solve pressing problems.
The people of House District 57 are fortunate to have a man of the character and capabilities of Bob Rankin running for public office. When elected he will do as he has always done: serve with energy, compassion and determination to succeed at what he sets out to accomplish.
I find it interesting that John Martin has come out as a "not in my backyard" Republican, along with all of those other Republicans so in favor of destroying Thompson Divide for the meager amount of natural gas it will produce for a very short time, in contrast to the generations of long-term benefits from an undisturbed natural environment that supports tourism, hunting and ranching.
It is part and parcel with short-sighted Republican concerns for a sustainable economy, that respects health and environment, and the most important resource of all, water.