Meet Helen Artist-Rogers and Joe Carpenter, candidates for Rifle City Council | PostIndependent.com

Meet Helen Artist-Rogers and Joe Carpenter, candidates for Rifle City Council

The Post Independent today kicks off three days of questions and answers with the candidates for Rifle City Council.

Ballots were mailed out last month for the Sept. 12 election.

Today, see answers from two of the six candidates, Helen Artist-Rogers and Joe Carpenter.

Wednesday will feature Barbara Clifton and Sean Strode.

Thursday we will conclude with Theresa Hamilton and Brent Buss.

The candidates seek to replace Mayor Randy Winkler, who is term limited, and Dana Wood, who decided not to seek re-election. Mayor Pro-tem Barbara Clifton's seat is up after four years and Theresa Hamilton's seat is up after just two years.

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The top four vote-getters will win at-large seats.

Helen Artist-Rogers

How long have you lived in Rifle and what made you want to run for City Council?

I've been a resident of Rifle collectively for 23 years, first moving to Rifle in 1984 and again in 2004. I lived on the Front Range in between and witnessed a tremendous amount of growth and how it can effect small towns. I am a small business owner of HR Interior Design, and have worked on commercial and residential projects from Edwards to Grand Junction during the past 13 years. My office and my home are in downtown Rifle.

I have been on the Planning and Zoning Commission for 12 years, and a part-time manager for the Rifle Downtown Development Authority for 12 years. I've had the honor of being involved with the renovation of the Ute Theatre and seeing it become an economic driver and increase visitors to our downtown. I was involved in helping to create the 2.5 percent lodging tax, which is the funding mechanism for the Visitor Improvement Fund, and served on the board.

While on the VIF board, I helped bring better public access to the Colorado River by helping to build a new, safer boat ramp. I've been involved with the Rifle Farmers Market for 10 years and I am presently chair. I'm also co-chair of Lower Valley Trails Group, who's mission is to construct a trail along the Colorado River to Mesa County.

I decided to run for a council seat because I come with experience of working with governmental entities and know how daunting and long it can take to get things done. While some would find this frustrating, I find it challenging.

Where would you like to see Rifle improve?

I would like to see better transparency between government and its citizens and work for better ways of communicating. This includes working with Garfield County in better ways. Rifle has a good reputation throughout the state as a community that's progressive, easy to work with and able to get things done. I'd like for that to continue. We can improve on first impressions by creating better entrances from the north and south ends of town.

What will you focus on if elected?

We need to hire a city manager who listens to the citizens of Rifle and is able to work well with others with proven leadership skills. Smart growth in Rifle's sphere of influence is important in planning developments which are connected so infrastructure is not as costly. I would work to continue to improve Rifle's walkability to schools and parks by improving sidewalks and increasing trails.

At the candidate forum, each of you said that you would support the bond initiative involving the construction of a new E. Dene Moore Care Center as well as support the construction of a new pool. What about these projects appealed to you and why do you think it is important for Rifle to invest in projects like these?

Taking care of our seniors is one of the most important societal goals we can have. Having them close and accessible toward the end of their lives to family and friends addresses quality of life issues. We don't want to have to drive 60-100 miles or more to see them. We need to improve the facility and be able to have beds available to accommodate health-care needs in a state-of-the-art facility.

The Rifle Parks and Recreation Advisory Board along with staff have been working hard to come up with a solution to keep the pool open for our use. The existing pool is antiquated and difficult to find replacement parts for. Using the existing penny sales tax to fund the new facility and not raise taxes is a good thing. I would eventually like to see a year-round facility, but know it might take several years to achieve that.

Over the years planning meetings have revealed that residents in the area would like to see more trails built in Rifle. How will you prioritize trails and bringing recreational activities to town if elected?

When I first moved to Rifle in 1984, the emphasis on trail building and walkability was not high on the priority list. Most people went everywhere in their pick-ups. Now, the desirability to be able to walk most places is high. People move to a town because of those amenities. The city has a Bicycle Master Plan. It needs to be funded and implemented even if it has to be phased.

How will you ensure that Rifle Western Adventure Weekend becomes the hallmark September event for Garfield County for years to come?

The Western Adventure Weekend is one of four special events which the Visitor Improvement Fund is helping to fund. Hometown Holidays, Rifle Rendezvous and the Garfield County Fair are the other three. Participation from the public is key. The planning committee has been hard at work to provide activities for all ages, from the music at the Ute on Friday night to kids activities on Third Street on Saturday, arts and craft vendors, a mountain bike race, a gun show at the fairgrounds, and the tribute band Get Out the Led on Saturday night on Third Street. I will be volunteering in several capacities.

Joe Carpenter

How long have you lived in Rifle and what made you want to run for City Council?

In 1973 I went to work for my dad, Joe Carpenter Sr., at his auto parts store in Rifle. I was 25 years old, a U.S. Navy veteran, and had attended Mesa State College in Grand Junction. In 1978, I was hired as executive vice president and manager of Rifle Industrial Bank (I had prior experience with Nationwide Financial Corp.). In 1982, I started Joe R. Carpenter Insurance Agency, which I operated until 2013 when I sold it back to Farmers Insurance Group. As a side endeavor I also was the Garfield County veterans service officer from 1999 till retiring in January 2017. Since 2008, I have been director of Vet-Trans, a nonprofit helping veterans in western Garfield County.

I was approached by several community leaders to run for City Council earlier this summer.

Where would you like to see Rifle improve?

I think Rifle needs to diversify our employment base. We have the workforce and access to the interstate, our county airport and the railroad. I would like to see some light manufacturing, possibly.

What will you focus on if elected?

I also think we should try to promote our valley as a place to retire. A lot of baby boomers are looking for a place with recreation, medical facilities and a reasonable cost of living to retire in. We could partner with other valley communities and let some of these retirees know about our area.

At the candidate forum, each of you said that you would support the bond initiative involving the construction of a new E. Dene Moore Care Center as well as support the construction of a new pool. What about these projects appealed to you and why do you think it is important for Rifle to invest in projects like these?

E. Dene Moore is pretty much used up. It needs to be replaced. If you have ever visited someone there, then you know. It's a valuable part of our community and is just worn out. The same goes for the pool. The pool is a real focal point for young families and the older folks, as well. Both the pool and E. Dene Moore are in poor shape and just need replacing. We need places like these to serve the area, anyone who has been by the pool in the summer can't help but notice how much use it gets, from older folks in the mornings to young families in the afternoon.

Over the years planning meetings have revealed that residents in the area would like to see more trails built in Rifle. How will you prioritize trails and bringing recreational activities to town if elected?

The city has made great strides in its trail system. I use it quite often. Adding more trails will only enhance our town. It's a drawing point, an asset.

I also think that our downtown core area is important. We have to make it easy to do business in town, make sure it's an attractive vibrant area. I think the same goes for the whole town as far as appearance goes. We need to put our best foot forward. People just don't want to come to a town that appears to be on a downhill course. We have a very attractive business district, we just need to ensure it stays that way. I have a lot of experience garnered over the years and thought perhaps I could help the town that provided a great place to make a living and raise my four children.

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