Jim Hoffman
Free Press Opinion Columnist

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February 28, 2013
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HOFFMAN: Local powerbrokers making calculated plays for higher office

There are wide reports circulating that a local cabal is working behind the scenes to place the power of the Mesa County commissioners, Grand Junction City Council and the Airport Authority into the hands of an increasingly small number of powerbrokers. It seems the Western Slope Conservative Alliance or whatever name they are using today (Freedom Colorado?) is conspiring with the GJ Chamber of Commerce to hand-select candidates for local office; candidates that will support a pre-determined agenda. All challengers claim to have an insight into how to better manage our finances.

The candidates suspected of this collusion, which have been disparagingly referred to by some as "The Three Stooges plus One," are Phyllis Norris, Martin Chazen, Duncan McArthur and Rick Brainard.

Norris, a native and City Market retiree is the past chair of the GJ Chamber of Commerce and would seem to have the inside track for their support. Her past and present accomplishments seem consistent with a background one would seek in a candidate.

Tom Kenyon, local Realtor, is the incumbent and represents the city on the Airport Authority. Kenyon has reportedly been targeted because he has questioned the current structure of the Airport Authority.

Chazen is a recent arrival to Grand Junction. His resume shows significant experience as a controller in large industry. His claim to an ability to manage our economy is directly related to his business experience. One should be skeptical of a claim that running a business is like running a government.

Incumbent Luke is now running for re-election as she completes her first term to which she was appointed. She was appointed to her position to complete the term of Bonnie Beckstein.

Beckstein abruptly resigned from City Council in 2010, and now wants her job back. It was reported at the time that she had been fired from a local accounting firm and was under investigation for financial irregularities. No charges were filed; a civil suit resulted. Beckstein claims that the issue is a part of her private life and unrelated to her desire to help manage millions in the city coffers.

These three are vying to win the seat for District D.

McArthur is the government affairs director for both the GJ Board of Realtors and the GJ Chamber of Commerce. He had a home foreclosed in 2010 and another currently slated for foreclosure. Perhaps his failure to manage his personal finances is part of his private life and unrelated to his ability to manage the city budget.

Butler seems a permanent fixture on the local scene rotating between city council and D51 School Board. He has served our community without any scandal or controversy known to this writer. He appears to be a true public servant who is motivated by his desire to contribute.

Noble is a retired federal employee who is also a recent arrival to the valley.

Brainard serves as vice president of West Star Aviation and sits on the board of the GJ Chamber of Commerce. In his professional role he has a vested interest in the Airport Board. There are rumors of preferential treatment provided his company that, if true, would result in understandable support for the current structure of the Airport Authority.

The incumbent Pitts has been bounced from the planning commission by a previous city council and from the Airport Authority by the present city council. His revenge for removal from the planning commission was to win election to the council without support of the GJ Chamber of Commerce. As the lone voice at the airport for the small tenants adversely affected by the gated security fence he had little welcome there. He seeks re-election as a proven leader.

The sad truth is that Mesa County is a one-party town. The sadder truth is that the one party is becoming more and more exclusionary and promoting an agenda that will further isolate us from the state as a whole and continue to diminish our input, significance and stature on any stage larger than our own backyard. We have become satisfied with representatives who accomplish little, understand little and have little to no influence on the direction of state politics or policy. We have candidates who are foisted upon us by a narrowing cadre of influence peddlers who do not represent the rank and file but rather the power elite.

"That is the system of Tammany Hall and the Chicago machine. It should be repugnant to every conservative and every Republican." - Newt Gingrich

So what are you gonna do, keep the devil you know or hire a new crew of scalawags?

After this article was written and submitted, the GJ Chamber of Commerce announced its candidate endorsements for GJ City Council. In a very surprising (note: sarcasm) move they endorsed Brainard, McArthur, Norris and Chazen - who would have thunk it?


Jim Hoffman is a local Realtor and investor who, when not working, loves skiing, camping and fishing (in season). He may be reached at freepressjim@gmail.com.

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The Post Independent Updated Feb 28, 2013 05:52PM Published Feb 28, 2013 02:43PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.