Meet Barbara Clifton and Sean Strode, candidates for Rifle City Council | PostIndependent.com

Meet Barbara Clifton and Sean Strode, candidates for Rifle City Council

The Post Independent on Tuesday kicked off three days of profiles on the candidates for Rifle City Council.

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

Today, see answers to questions by two of the six candidates, Barbara Clifton and Sean Strode. On Monday, Helen Artist-Rogers and Joe Carpenter provided answers. Wednesday Q&As feature 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 Clifton's seat is up after four years and Hamilton's seat is up after just two years.

The top four vote-getters win seats.

Barbara Clifton

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

I have lived and worked as an attorney in Rifle for 15 years. My family includes my husband, Patrick Burwell, and daughters Erin and Kayla. I am currently on the board of directors for several nonprofits, including Rifle Community Foundation and Rifle Animal Shelter. I am running for a second term on City Council because I would like to continue Rifle's tradition of working cooperatively with other governments and being creative in funding new projects that would otherwise not fit in the budget.

In what areas would you like to see Rifle improve?

I would like to see Rifle improve on its economic diversity. Rifle has made significant improvements in the last several years in diversifying its economic base with the Center of Excellence for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting and with tourism from acts at the Ute Theatre and signature events such as Hometown Holidays, Garfield County Fair, Western Adventure Weekend, etc. Rifle must continue to focus on economic diversity that is feasible and makes sense in the current business climate.

What will you focus on if elected?

If re-elected, I would like to focus on three priorities: 1) public health and safety, which are the principal duties of any city council; 2) economic diversity; 3) communication with Rifle's citizens.

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. Why do you think it is important for Rifle to invest in projects like these?

I support the ballot question which gives the city the authority to incur debt without any new taxes for the new pool construction. The existing pool is a recreational activity for a large number of children and adults. It adds to the economic diversity of the city, but can be paid for by existing city revenues without any increase in taxes.

I also support Grand River Hospital District's ballot question, which would provide funds to rebuild the E. Dene Moore Care Center and add some additional space to the hospital. The care center has exceeded its useful life. Both the care center and the hospital offer the ability for citizens to receive excellent care locally. Grand River Hospital District is a major economic driver for the community and has demonstrated responsible use of their finances.

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

Recreational activities are incredibly important in making Rifle a great place to live and work. While I certainly want to see more trails, parks and recreational activities in Rifle, the city must keep the costs (both construction and maintenance) within budget. The city has been incredibly creative in the past to fund these types of projects with grants and donations and I hope to continue that focus.

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

Rifle's Western Adventure Weekend is Sept. 22-24 and includes a concert at the Ute Theatre, a block party on Third Street, a bike race, a 5K race, and all-sports swap meet and gun show at the Garfield County Fairgrounds. An outdoor concert by Get the Led Out, a Led Zeppelin tribute band, will headline the event.

Personally, I will be attending many of the events using opportunities such as this to encourage people to come experience Rifle and its Western Adventure Weekend.

SEAN STRODE

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

​I've been in Rifle for about six years. During that time I've been on numerous community boards and involved in the community as much as possible. ​Rifle was the first place I lived that taught me what the meaning of the word community meant. I feel it's important to give back to the community that you live in. I feel personally invested in Rifle and want to make Rifle the best it can be.

In what areas would you like to see Rifle improve?

​Rifle will grow in the next 10 years, and I'm interested in approaching this inevitable change as well-prepared as possible. Rifle has a master plan in place and we can always improve incorporating that, as well as evolving the master plan when it no longer meets the needs of Rifle residents. I want the growth we see to be an asset to the community, not more of a strain. ​I'd also like to see Rifle improve its basic infrastructure, including streets, sidewalks and water/sewer.

​​What will you focus on if elected?

My first area of focus is what the citizens of Rifle want. As an elected official, we are vowing to make decisions based on the needs and wants of our community. Personally, my core areas of focus will always be infrastructure, public safety and small/local business growth. I feel these are the cornerstones of any small community.

​​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. Why do you think it is important for Rifle to invest in projects like these?

Part of what I would like to do as a city councilor is to look at aging infrastructure and necessary community amenities for the next 10-30 years. This scope can entail only physical facilities owned by Rifle, or in addition to city owned property if it has a strong community relationship. The past few years have shown us how important it is to plan ahead.

The E. Dene Moore Care Center and Art Dague pool are nearing the point of failure. I want to make a strong effort to look at these infrastructure options and work with community entities to formulate a plan, not figure out a last-minute fix. While I have reservations about financial burdens on the citizens of Rifle with the hospital bond initiative, I also feel we need to support our senior citizens and offer support for the hospital district. Grand River Hospital District has been an important part of our community and I'm grateful that they are here.

The pool has been a known issue for years. The current initiative appears to be the most economically sound plan we've has thus far. Renovations would be too costly to draw from the annual general fund, so there would need to be some incurred debt. Having one debt paid off and using those funds to toward a new pool makes logical sense. In my opinion, it seems like a worthwhile investment into our community.

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

​As the president of the Rifle Area Mountain Biking Organization (RAMBO), we have worked toward outdoor recreation in Rifle. ​​RAMBO built the trail that runs along Morrow Drive (Ninth street), is assisting with the trail leading up to the Rifle High School and future home of the animal shelter, as well as exploring options for future community trails in Rifle. I am also part of the Friends of Hubbard Mesa, a group organized by the Bureau of Land Management to bring different user groups together in a productive manner. I would like to grow outdoor recreation in a fiscally responsible manner, while encouraging outdoor activities for all residents.

How will you ensure that next month's Rifle Western Adventure Weekend becomes the hallmark September event for Garfield County for years to come.

To ensure success, the first thing I do is to get involved. The more hands to help, the better. Second, as a business student, I'm all about marketing. City staff and volunteers involved have set up an amazing series of events and have already done a great job marketing, but I feel it's the one area that can always be improved. The more people that hear about this spectacular event, the better.

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