Glenwood Springs mayor column: 2A ballot measure will provide clarity on airport’s future
A vote this fall for 2A is an opportunity for the community to provide clarity concerning the future of the runway at the Glenwood Springs Airport. It is important for people to know what they are voting for, and more importantly what they are not voting for.
A vote for 2A is 4 mills and costs a homeowner about $25 per $100,000 of assessed home value annually. This amount will be around four times that for commercial property owners.
It is very important to understand that there will be a helicopter operations center maintained in all scenarios and circumstances, regardless of the outcome of this vote. Any firefighting or medivac activities that take place at the Glenwood Springs Airport are conducted exclusively with helicopters. The large tankers and slurry bombers have to come from Colorado Springs or Grand Junction. Fixed-winged fire planes are just not able to utilize the GWS airport, and helicopters do not need a runway. We all live in Glenwood just like you, and I would never put my family or neighbors in jeopardy in the event of a wildfire or medical evacuation crisis.
Of the money raised, $5.5 million will go to tunneling under the runway so the fixed-winged small aircraft can continue to enjoy the landing strip. Several million more dollars need to go into the airport to make it safe, secure and functional. For example, the runway needs to have a new $300,000 fuel system, ground lighting, runway sealant, hangars, weed management, security/wildlife fencing and a laundry list of other deferred maintenance items that have accumulated over the years. There are currently serious safety code violations associated with the fueling systems, and the fire marshal has given the city 30 days to correct these threats that are adjacent to residential properties.
While some airport users feel that many of these upgrades are unnecessary, it is the responsibility of staff and City Council to ensure the safety, security and potential liability of all city assets is front and center. Private aviation is an inherently risky hobby, and it is our responsibility to minimize hazards and limit our legal liability exposure.
If 2A does not pass, then the future of the runway portion of the airport is less certain. We have been trying, with some small successes, to find grant funding for South Bridge. Just this week we were informed that our congressional earmark from Sen. John Hickenlooper of $1 million dollars was successful. Unfortunately, being a non-FAA commercial airport makes obtaining grant funding for the tunnel portion of the project impossible. So far, we have $25 million of a $56 million project committed. Being able to reduce the cost of the project by $5.5 million by not building a tunnel under the runway will be a significant cost savings. Conversely, if 2A is able to pass, then we will have the funding necessary for the tunnel, and the funding gap will be the same. In either scenario, we reduce the funding gap and bring South Bridge closer to a reality.
If 2A does not pass, council will be faced with needing to commit significant financial resources into upgrading the safety issues associated with the runway. Without the source of revenue that 2A would provide, these funds would have to come from the city’s general fund, which provides the budgets for departments like police, fire and streets. How does council cut budgets across the city when the voters have just told us they didn’t want new tax dollars spent on maintaining a runway? What if we spend several million dollars anyway, the infrastructure bills get passed, and we now have the federal funding to begin construction on South Bridge? Is this an acceptable “sunk cost” to the taxpaying citizens?
This is why council voted to put this question before voters this November. We need to understand if the citizens value the runway portion of the airport when asked directly to fund it. If not, it is disingenuous to say that closing down the runway prior to investing in these large capital expenses is not a strong possibility.
Passage of 2A ensures, for at least the next generation, the certainty and viability of the runway the small private aircraft owners have been requesting. It rectifies the numerous safety issues staff has identified and provides funding for the tunnel. Failure of 2A creates a significant financial burden for the rest of the city with no ready way to pay for the improvements. Failure of 2A could even mean the closure of the runway. Please vote wisely and give me a call if you have any questions: 970-379-4248.
Jonathan Godes is mayor of Glenwood Springs. He was first elected to Glenwood Spring City Council in 2017.
Garfield Re-2 school board candidate Q&As
Five candidates are running for three seats on the Garfield Re-2 school board this year.
Seats up for election this year include District A, currently held by Tom Slappey, who is ending a four-year term; District B, currently held by Jason Shoup, who is ending a two-year term; and District E, currently held by Anne Guettler, who is ending a four-year term.
School board member Jason Shoup is running unopposed to once again represent District B. In other districts, new challengers include Britton Fletchall, Jessica Paugh, Lauren Caitlin Carey and Tony May. May and Carey are running to represent District E, while Paugh and Fletchall are running to represent District A.
District A covers the northwest quadrant of Rifle and farther toward the rural west and north. District B covers the northeast quadrant of Rifle, toward the east to Silt and rural north. District E covers New Castle, toward the rural south and north. Districts C and D are not up for election this year.
Ballots were mailed out Oct. 11. Nov. 2 is Election Day.
1. COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges for administrators, teachers and students. What is the best way of creating a conducive working and learning environment without compromising health and safety?
May: What caught my attention one morning at the start of the lockdown was that I observed my wife delivering a Riverside Middle School online class from our kitchen table, and to my surprise, I witnessed the lack of participation of online students. As I dove deeper into the topic, I automatically started to troubleshoot and quickly realized that there was no apparent solution in this model that would increase attendance. I decided to get involved and enthusiastically started attending Re-2 school board meetings. My key objective was to listen and learn about the policies and ideas that were on the table. I applaud the adaptation of the district to move to “in-person learning,” as it was a big step and has been remarkable for student retention. A big thank-you to Re-2 administration, teachers, staff, parents and students for help shaping what our community needs as we move through these new processes.
Paugh: Studies show, and my own professional experience indicates, that in-person instruction is most beneficial to student learning. We, as a district, school board and community, rely on medical experts to guide health and safety practices that will best ensure in-person learning for students. Medical experts include public health officials and local doctors. As a school board member, my priority is providing the best environment for learning and will utilize experts in appropriate fields to guide decisions that support a healthy and safe working and learning environment for all.
Carey: Indeed there has been an immense burden placed on our teachers and staff and especially our students. I have spoken with many teachers who feel this year has been their most difficult ever. Our teachers are teaching because they love children and see the potential of the world in them. Supporting them in the schools is of paramount importance. Following the guidance the Colorado Department of Education provides as it pertains to health and safety, as well as learning environments is the best avenue to allow our teachers to create the environments that help our students blossom and thrive into the world changers each and every one of them are. It is the responsibility of the board to make clear policy based on the best information available so that teachers and school staff can focus on the in-person learning we fought so hard for last school year.
Fletchall: First off, let me say thank you to all the teachers, administrators, custodial staff, bus drivers, assistants and parents who have worked over this last year and a half to keep our kids learning and safe. We are faced with challenges to keep our kids in schools and our teachers feeling safe in this era of COVID-19. I feel we need to keep up our sanitation efforts, personal hygiene practices and staying home when ill. I would like to see a stronger emphasis on promoting healthy kids from exercise, better eating habits and more rapid testing.
Shoup: Though COVID-19 has certainly created unprecedented challenges for school districts, I feel these challenges can be overcome while keeping students in schools and in a conducive learning environment by working closely with our local public health officials, adhering to state laws and mandates, encouraging parents to keep their students’ home if they are not feeling well, encouraging and advertising proper hygiene/hand washing techniques throughout schools and having hand sanitizer stations strategically placed throughout.
2. Staffing shortages are always a concern for many Colorado school districts in communities with a high cost of living. What can districts do to attract and retain quality employees?
May: The cost of living is high in this area, and job candidates are well aware from a simple search and have an idea what they’re getting into. The district has started an initiative in the right direction with the production of a short employment video to entice new candidates. We need to further expand the idea of selling the area to the right candidate, along with including a deeper dive workshop of this area’s financial lifestyle prior to signing on a new candidate.
Paugh: The gap between the cost of living and the staff wages is undeniable in this valley. Closing the gap is a challenge that all employers and industries are dealing with and is a long-term, budget constrained issue. The district partnering with other agencies to tackle the beast of affordable housing is a beneficial collaborative effort. Also, many of our first-year instructors are young, fresh out of college, and have no ties to the area. A robust retention program focusing on recreation, social activities, community engagement, etc., is a great way to help young teachers make connections and establish roots in the area.
Carey: The bottom line is that we need to find a way to provide more financial support for our teachers and staff. This means we have to get creative and think outside the box. We want what is best for our children, and for their teachers. I would like to see employee housing be something that is considered, and an increase in pay as soon as possible. We can begin with competitive compensation for our paraprofessionals and respecting the experience they have gained in other districts as they come to Re-2. These individuals contribute more value than most realize to our students’ daily school lives. We can show how much we value our teachers and staff financially, but we can also do it by living the appreciation we have for them.
Fletchall: Unfortunately, staffing shortages are not happening just to our district but for almost every industry in our valley. Why are we losing people? I am interested in reviewing exit interviews with past employees. Most research would show that the No. 1 reason employees leave is a toxic work environment with supervisors. Is that happening in our district? Obviously, cost of living and housing prices make moving here challenging, but we also have so much to offer potential employees.
Shoup: Staffing shortages and teacher retention is a huge problem in our local district. A recommendation that I feel might be beneficial would be to have an outside nonaffiliated party come in and do a market salary analysis/comparison and see where our salaries currently are at. Then hopefully with that data in hand we can look at ways to increase staff and teacher salaries, which would aid in retention. Another option to look at would be to either partner with an outside entity for affordable housing options or possibly utilize some of the district’s unused land for housing, i.e., town homes, apartments, condos, etc., that are strictly used for district staff and teachers only.
3. What are your thoughts on creating more opportunities and more technological accessibility for students?
May: Thinking big. I want to ensure that student achievement is the central focus. Through small steps, I think there is a lot of momentum with computer science with a mountain of resources available to perhaps develop an integrated curriculum path. My vision would create an advisory group to unify competing ideas on computer science instruction and investigate a delivery model.
Paugh: Inequitable access to technology (i.e. internet) creates a huge gap in learning, and ultimately, academic success. This is a nationwide challenge not unknown to the Re-2 district. The county is actively working on broadband access countywide, and neighboring districts are actively working to partner with local municipalities and other entities to disperse fiber networks districtwide. This is important work to create equitable access to technology for all students. Other strategies could include computer lab time after school hours in community libraries and individual schools.
Carey: STEAM (science, technology, electronics, arts and math) opportunities are vitally important for our children to be able to functionally participate in society as they grow into adults. Each student having a ChromeBook (as it is now) is a great step in that direction. Proper and creative funding and collaboration with community members and business partners to provide opportunities for our students to see tech in action will not only provide hands-on technology opportunities and a glimpse into what it means to be a contributing member of society. Providing professional development for our teachers and staff in this regard will only open further the educational opportunities for our students.
Fletchall: I would say our district gets a high mark in my book when it comes to technology and accessibility. I know when we transferred to distance learning, kids were able to check out a Chromebook. Different programs were available for internet access. For our kids to be successful in the new world they have to be computer literate and tech savvy. But have you seen a 16-year-old try and make change for a 20? Painful. I think that accessibility should be available when necessary, but I would like to see more learning that does not relate technology and focus on basic skills.
Shoup: In today’s world, it is essential to be up to date and on par with our curriculum and industry technology. Last year we were able to go from shared classroom tech to one-on-one technology in all schools, and every student now has a Chromebook. As we move forward, I feel that adding more CTE-type classes would be a very good and exciting option for expanding this avenue and would increase technology for all students. This would also give them a broader spectrum of skills to take with them as they look forward to entering today’s work force or even post-secondary education.
4. There are simply not enough Spanish-speaking instructors in a county that boasts at least a 30% Hispanic population. What are your thoughts on this issue, and what will you do in your power to ensure all students are properly being reached?
May: I am interested in working with the Re-2 administration to further understand the Family Resource Center and incorporate ideas from Garfield County Latino Committee, Roaring Fork Schools, D16 and D51. I have already taken the initiative to introduce the Latino advocates from Re-1 and Re-2 and talk with D51 on methods they have in place to retain “at risk” students.
Paugh: It is imperative that our teacher demographics more closely align to the demographics of our student population. Cultural literacy is a challenge that the Re-2 district faces as well as the community as a whole. Teaching and learning happens within cultural and social circumstances. It’s important to have educators that are able to navigate the different perspectives our students enter the classroom with based on their cultural backgrounds. Spanish-speaking educators that come from similar cultural backgrounds as our Hispanic students can effectively help to navigate difficult conversations, acknowledge and challenge bias and prejudice and create inclusive classroom spaces.
Carey: We need qualified interpreters at every elementary school and middle school. I would like to see one at Rifle High School and Coal Ridge High School as well. We need qualified interpreters at the main office. Not having this important need met hampers communication with parents and students, and it must be remedied.
Fletchall: As a father of two sons whose first language is Spanish, English as second-language programs were huge in their early development. Once again, how do you attract teachers and professionals who speak both languages? I am a firm believer that this success is a two-way street. Why are we not teaching more of our students and teachers Spanish? According to most studies, Spanish is the No. 2 language in the world, behind Chinese and all its variations. I believe we are not challenging our English-speaking kids with Spanish as much as we are challenging our Spanish speakers with English. If we want students to truly be ready for the world, arming them with the skill of a second language is huge.
Shoup: With the “No Student Left Behind” approach, I do believe it is critical that every student is reached and has a full understanding of what is being asked of and taught to them. An approach to target and help minimize this Spanish-speaking barrier might be to have instructors enroll and take Spanish classes (paid for or reimbursed by the district) as a new hire coming into the district, and as for the veteran teachers that are willing, they would be able to take such classes over the summer break so they would be ready for the upcoming year. Another recommendation I have would be to start teaching secondary language classes in the earlier years of school rather than waiting till high school. Studies have found that it is easier for younger age children to learn a new language than it is for adults.
5. What are the biggest issues you think the district faces on a regular basis?
May: I have been in agreement with most decisions the board and administration have provided regarding health, curriculum and finances. I understand the legal implications and will not put our students, faculty, staff, administration or purse at risk. I support the policy of no politics in the nonsocial studies/government classrooms. I do not support mandatory vaccines or masks; I support health decisions made by parents. I support the district’s approach to the new, stable financial system. I support the initiatives behind the repairs to Cactus Valley. I support the governance discussions of the Re-2 board-staff CS negotiations process and believe there is a good relationship to bridge necessary gaps to assist streamlining future discussions.
Paugh: As a community member and Rifle resident, I see teacher retention, academic achievement and cultural literacy as consistent issues the district faces. Another big issue to note is that the district does not currently have an updated strategic plan. The COVID-19 pandemic forced district staff into operating in emergency mode to navigate a crisis drastically impacting education across the nation. The last year did not afford time to engage in strategic planning. I am thrilled at the opportunity to work alongside district staff to develop a comprehensive and wildly effective district strategic plan that outlines specific goals/needs, includes measurable outcomes and accountability measures and allows for parent, student, community and staff participation in the process. I am certain that the district has done an excellent job at identifying current and pressing challenges, and I am eager to listen, learn and help support the district-identified goals.
Carey: Value our teachers: providing better compensation, professional development opportunities, and generally taking care of our teachers are key.
Language access: We need certified interpreters in our schools.
Inspire our kids: Our kids are bursting with creativity. Our educators are trained in nurturing these creative juices and helping students learn to harness, develop and grow them into whatever it is they want to be. And here we are back to supporting our teachers.
It’s a cycle. We want our children to do well on achievement tests; we need to support continuing education for our educators and provide them with the tools to create environments our children can thrive in.
I want our teachers to be the best supported in the state, so they can be their very best selves, so our kids can be their very best selves.
Fletchall: 1. Staffing — do we have the right teachers, do the right teachers feel they have the support of the administration, board and community? 2. Performance of our students at state testing. This is not new or can be blamed on this past year’s challenges. These numbers are only going to get lower. 3. Pride — do our kids have pride in their schools? I would doubt some of that as I see turnout at home games for any of our teams, destruction of school property. 4. Fear — as long as we keep perpetuating fear as the new normal it is a guarantee that kids will fail and our district will fail — over and over again.
Shoup: Some of the largest issues I feel the district faces at this point in time outside of COVID-19 are: student achievement, teacher and staff retention (which I believe also has a major impact on student achievement), and also community involvement and regular communication.
Rifle City Council candidate Q&As
Eight people are vying for five seats on Rifle City Council during this year’s election.
November’s election pits incumbents Joe Carpenter, Clint Hostettler and Sean Strode against first-time council hopefuls Bud Demicell, Tamara Degler, Alicia Gresley, Chris Bornholdt and Derek Davis.
Current Mayor Barbara Clifton and Mayor Pro Tem Theresa Hamilton are termed out.
For Rifle City Council, The four candidates receiving the highest number of votes will each be elected to a four-year term. The one candidate receiving the fifth-highest number of votes will be elected to a two-year term. Once council is sworn in, council members will vote for mayor and mayor pro tem.
All seats are at-large and represent the entire city — not districts.
Ballots were mailed out Oct. 11. Nov. 2 is Election Day.
1. Like many communities across predominantly mountain areas of Colorado, affordable housing is an issue in Rifle. If you were elected to City Council, what would you advocate for and do to help address this long-standing issue?
Bornholdt: With the price of lumber and labor increasing, building affordable housing is challenging. Land prices are also increasing at a rapid rate in the Rifle area. Teaming up with an organization like Habitat for Humanity could be an option to help with the costs. A possible expansion of King Crown Mobile Home Park may be the cheapest housing option for families.
Strode: As a City Councilor, I have already had the opportunity to advocate for housing projects that have come before council. In permitting processes, I have lobbied for more affordable duplex-style housing over expensive single family homes and have supported efforts by Habitat for Humanity. In the past few years we have discussed existing discount fee initiatives for workforce specific housing and assessed the impact fees for new construction. We lowered the fees to make building in Rifle more attractive. There are three areas that I focus on for continued housing development. One is to optimize smart growth in our town that utilizes existing infrastructure by creating infill. Second is to focus on all of Rifle’s residents. This ranges from single family homes to multifamily apartments to senior citizen homes. It’s important to make sure that no one is priced out of our area. The final piece is to explore options along Airport Road where people can possibly live close to work and have easy access on/off the interstate.
Hostettler: I would continue to do what we have been doing, which is support every entity that wants to build or fund affordable housing. One of the ways we can support this is by reducing building permit fees from the city, similar to what we did a few months ago with Habitat for Humanity. I in no way think the city should get into the affordable housing business but should continue to do everything we can to support and facilitate these projects that our community needs so people can afford to live here.
Davis: I would like to see the city give a discount of building and tap fees to teachers and city workers. They would need to live in the city for five years or would be required to pay back the discount. There are also some programs for workforce housing. I would be in favor of seeing if these could be beneficial for our citizens.
Degler: This is an incredibly important issue to address as a community. I would advocate for hearings that bring together the City Council, financial experts, real estate developers, local real estate agents and citizens. Launching an ongoing discussion in a task force format would be helpful. It is my past experience that such meetings can generate valuable ideas. It would also be beneficial for the City Council and our city leaders to network with other communities facing this issue to learn best practices on how to address the issue. We should also be evaluating the fees the city charges for new construction. The city needs to provide creative and innovative solutions to the problem.
Gresley: Speaking about communication and community engagement is something you will hear and see often in my responses and campaign, as it is key to seeing us move the needle on all these type of issues. We need to collaborate with our neighboring cities and towns on their approaches as well as seek input from businesses or developers who may see some benefit in building new affordable communities on available land. There is a responsible and productive way to do this. Looking at the City 21-22 strategic plan, I see assessing the city property inventory/areas and their potential for selling or maybe development as a step in the right direction. We also need to listen to those who have objections to proposed ideas and work through a compromise; asking why and for community ideas/input.
Demicell: I do not believe it is the role of City Council to get involved in the housing market. However, I do recognize housing costs as an issue that many of our residents face. I am in favor of asking relevant sectors (Realtors, contractors, land developers and community members) to come together and brainstorm ideas to combat this issue. City Council can add some relief by cutting permit fees, looking at red tape that might be hindering new builds, and ensuring that government is not in the way.
Carpenter: City Council put a program in place last year involving reduced fees for contractors. We extended it for several months this summer, we also have been approached by Habitat for Humanity to approve a project south of the river. Unfortunately, property and material costs have skyrocketed this year. We are continuing to explore avenues for affordable housing. However, I don’t think the city should get into the contracting process. That’s best left up to professionals in the housing industry.
2. What is the best way to improve downtown commerce and attract more foot traffic?
Bornholdt: Ongoing public events can help drive positive awareness of the city’s downtown area. Bringing people from the entire county downtown on a regular basis, once a week or even just once a month. Online marketing will make citizens aware of the unique amenities that exist in the central part of the Rifle community.
Strode: The city is at the tail end of a large effort to make the city more pedestrian friendly. While the construction downtown serves many purposes, improved walkability and modernizing are part of the master plan. The construction replaces and upgrades nearly all of the inferior infrastructure, but it also creates better sidewalks, helps slow traffic down in that corridor and creates more outdoor spaces for people to enjoy our historic downtown. With time, as funding becomes available, the idea of connecting a walkable downtown is where the city would like to move towards. Many economists predict a more local emphasis on small businesses post-pandemic, and with a refreshed downtown, that could be the case for Rifle.
Hostettler: I think that our downtown beautification was a great step in this direction and our businesses will see a large benefit from these improvements. I think it is important to maintain an open line of communication between the city and businesses to make sure we as a city are doing everything possible for these folks to succeed. I have and will always support small business in our community; not just in the downtown area but throughout the city limits. I would like to see more organized downtown activities to show off all the work that has been done and to let people see all the great businesses we have downtown.
Davis: The city has done a good job with updating and improving the downtown area. I would be in favor of continued physical improvements to the areas entering downtown. Putting up signs on Interstate 70 and throughout social media about what Rifle has to offer would help. I think the city could host events like 5Ks and bike races starting or ending in the downtown area. The city could also have street parties with live music on Friday and Saturday nights. We could also invite our local schools to come and perform plays or concerts. Most of this could be done through volunteers and not cost the taxpayers more money. I also think it is important not to forget the areas outside of downtown. There are a lot of businesses on Airport Road. For example, we need to make sure these areas stay updated and look nice as well. We want all of Rifle to be a magnet to I-70 traffic.
Degler: As the owner of Crescent Moon Spiritual Goods in downtown Rifle, it was and still is painful going through the Rifle Revitalization Project. Businesses downtown look forward to the construction ending and welcoming visitors with the new improvements. I am especially excited for the foot traffic that the updates will generate. However, the updates alone won’t attract visitors — we need to have more events and festivals downtown. Events that have been canceled by COVID-19 have been greatly missed by the community. Western Adventure Weekend is already a success, and the addition of the new Grand Hogback bike trail should help it become a major attraction. A festival celebrating our Hispanic community would also be a welcome addition. While I believe the items above would increase downtown traffic, Rifle is more than its downtown area. We need to amplify business throughout Rifle and strive to attract more customers to all areas.
Gresley: Improve the foot/bike paths alongside the creek and Railroad to encourage residents to use their feet to come to downtown. We would often ride bikes in to have dinner or push the stroller to events at the fairgrounds but not without our concerns over lack of lighting, trash/needles and limited access to certain streets. Understand if there is a desire for periodic events on Third Street, shut down to traffic and allow for outside dining or food trucks and bar service in the street. Heat lamps for the cooler evenings. We need to promote events via modern channels where people can engage. Again, working with our neighboring towns to encourage additional participation. Miner’s Claim has a golf cart shuttling diners around Silt if they don’t want to drive. Family friendly events at the splash pad, the space is underutilized. I’ve lots of ideas but you only allow so many words.
Demicell: The biggest hindrance to downtown activity is parking, for customers and employees alike. Between Third Street employees, Ute Theater traffic, post office and bank customers, there is rarely parking for retail shoppers. Unless and until the parking issue is resolved, it will be difficult to attract foot traffic. People do not utilize the parking structure on First and Railroad because it’s too far to walk to downtown. I would explore revamping the existing parking lot, on Fourth Street across from Ute Theater, into a parking structure. Yes, we can have street parties or festivals, but that does not create ongoing patronage. And the parking issue still exists.
Carpenter: I think that’s been partly addressed by the project undertaken this year. As far as attracting new businesses we have to make it easy to do business. I have 48 years of experience in retail, banking and financial services in Rifle. In my experience, a giant step has been taken with the projects this summer involving upgrading infrastructure and improving the appearance of downtown. New business is vital to downtown. I’ve thought that perhaps we could make an effort to recruit entrepreneurs to the downtown corridor.
3. What major improvements can Rifle make when it comes to infrastructure, commerce and recreation?
Bornholdt: The remodel of City Hall is a much-needed upgrade for city staff. The Recreation Department has many projects that need to be completed to enhance what the City Parks already offers to its citizens.
Strode: It’s my opinion that infrastructure is one of the primary roles of city government, and there is continual progress in this area. I don’t believe there is one major improvement to make; more importantly, the best thing we can do is have a good strategic plan. Fortunately, we already have many of these plans in place (streets, water, facilities, etc.); now it’s a matter of being smart with our money to remain financially stable, while executing improvement plans within our allocated budget. For commerce, we need to focus on local stores that offer more niche products and services. Stores that compete with Walmart or Amazon — unfortunately, they have less chance of longevity. It’s important that we bolster our relationships and support with small business owners to improve commerce in Rifle. We’re in a very interesting time because Rifle is no longer a small town, but we’re not a big town, either. As we continue to grow, small- and medium-size retailers will begin to set up in our town. Then the biggest problem isn’t how to get commerce, it’s how to preserve the quality and integrity of our city.
Hostettler: The city has been working diligently to find the places that need the most work and get them fixed and or updated. We are really working on improving our water and sewer, our streets and our broadband. All these things are and will continue to be a priority.
Our recreation in Rifle is second to none — we have great parks and programs. We also have great people in this department that are always trying to creatively improve and add to what we already have. The city has a lot of awesome things on tap in our strategic plan in the coming years. Building a new park up in North Pasture/Promontory neighborhood, along with big plans for our river area. Commerce fits hand in hand with infrastructure and recreation. If you have great infrastructure, it draws businesses and gives them a great chance to be successful. The more recreational options you have, the more time they will spend outside enjoying our town and visiting from other places, and this will drive commerce.
Davis: For recreation, I think we can do better at making use of the Colorado River. With the city spending $400,000 on the island and another $80,000 to remove the debris, I would like to make sure the city capitalizes on this investment as soon as possible. The city is putting out a survey asking what would be the best use of the island. After the citizens have weighed in, we should come up with a plan that meets the findings. Hopefully this will benefit citizens, as well as draw in visitors. As far as infrastructure and commerce, we need a long-term plan. Our city charter should be updated to have a five-year strategic plan instead of the one year plan it has now. Changes to infrastructure, commerce and recreation, for that matter, will take time and planning. To be wise stewards of the people’s tax dollars we need a plan. Otherwise the city will always be shooting from the hip. We will miss valuable opportunities and insights without planning ahead.
Degler: As a resident, I have noticed that safe travel on our roads is an ongoing issue, especially during the winter. We need to continually assess our response to weather events and improve safe travel when possible. In discussions I’ve had with residents and tourists alike, common concerns are a lack of wireless internet accessibility, healthy eating options and outdoor recreation equipment access. Since internet access is an ongoing issue, the city needs to keep pace with the advancements in technology. We need to attract new businesses, especially healthier restaurants and outdoor equipment rentals. Our beautiful parks, paths and natural attractions such as Rifle Arch, Rifle Mountain Park and Rifle Falls should be marketed more to increase tourism, a major economic driver in the area. I would seek to balance encouragement for new businesses with an eye on keeping our small-town vibe.
Gresley: Access to affordable and reliable high-speed broadband internet and options to ensure competition. 50% of revenues come from sales tax; in 2021, a lot of it has come from online purchases. How many people now work from home or kids who are now completing online school? As we look to the future and how our world has changed and is evolving, this is an imperative infrastructure improvement we cannot neglect to improve. I am excited for the potential of Paradise Island from a recreation standpoint, some sort of river park or recreation area would be beneficial for citizens and attract visitors who would spend time (and $$) in our city. Keep focusing on the great work various groups are doing to create world-class mountain biking and hiking trails as well as promoting Rifle Mountain Park more. Whiteriver Avenue and some of our side streets need some love, too.
Demicell: Everywhere I go, I hear that our broadband service is in dire need of improvement. Most everything we do these days is reliant on our connectivity and coverage area. Rifle also has several roads that are graded as “poor,” thereby needing replaced — not repaired. Commerce can be improved by upgrading broadband (GPS) and having adequate parking. I think the County Fairgrounds is underutilized. We could host regional and state competitions, concerts and other events, which would increase commerce and provide additional recreational activities for our community. Additionally, I’d like to look at a long-term plan to build a recreation center utilizing land adjacent to the pool that is already owned by the city.
Carpenter: We did that this summer with our improvement projects. Infrastructure is something we need to stay on top of; for example , the utilities replaced this summer were up to seven decades old and in very poor condition. We have a great new pool, we have a very impressive series of bike trails that are open and being improved all of the time. We are also on track to finish the Veterans Memorial Park north of town.
4. What are the major social issues facing Rifle and what do you think can be done to help?
Bornholdt: The Rifle community is a diverse society, and the discussions of inclusion as whole community is important for the city to grow. Increasingly, cities have sought to broaden opportunity and human rights, and in response have faced opposition and pre-emptive policies from their state governments. Council should view opportunity and inclusiveness as critical benchmarks of a successful community and may find that they are putting up a fight for these values.
Strode: There are very few social issues that are uniquely specific to Rifle. Many social issues can be identified nationally. There are countless psychologists and social scientists trying to figure out what can be done for national issues. However, Rifle has a secret weapon: community. I can disagree with my neighbor on a social topic here and there, but yet I’ll still happily lend that person a tool or wave when they drive by. For the most part, respectful differences in opinion aren’t a bad thing in a community; it’s when the community stops supporting each other that gets worrisome. And I don’t think Rifle is at that point. The social issue I believe is unique to Rifle, is growth. As a councilor, I regularly contemplate how we can grow as a city but yet maintain our uniqueness and community. Honoring our history is part of what makes Rifle Rifle. I feel that in the next 10 years it will be a social issue that challenges our roots.
Hostettler: We need to continue what has already been started on making our city as inclusive as possible to all who want to live here. There is always more work to be done. We need to support any and all programs that help our youth, our elderly, the mentally unstable, those who suffer from addiction and any other person or people that need it. I do not think that it is the job of council person to save the world, but it is our job to make the people of our city feel safe and healthy. This is my mission.
Davis: I am concerned with unity as a community. I would like to see the city reach out to the citizens with service projects to better our city. Such as cleaning up trash along the river or cleaning up graffiti under the bridges. When we serve together, we become more unified. The pay scale for jobs here is also too low. People have to drive so far to work they miss valuable time with their families. With the changes to the world, including internet business, we should be discussing how citizens of Rifle can benefit. Amazon brings in the third highest tax revenue for our city. If we could train our local businesses to do affiliate marketing for Amazon and Walmart, Rifle businesses could be selling their products across our nation. If people can provide better for their families, it will strengthen our city. Many of the social issues, including drugs and crime, facing the city of Rifle can be overcome with stronger families. The family is the central unit of society. We need to do all we can to strengthen our families.
Degler: We should focus on community safety and mental health. Rifle is below the national average for violent crimes, but recent data shows us close to the national average for property crime. The City Council needs to encourage our neighborhood watch groups and to ensure we have a strong law enforcement approach to this issue. I am certain our new city manager, Tommy Klein, will continue to leverage his law enforcement background, guide us towards ways we can minimize these crimes and make the community feel more safe. As for mental health, this last year has left many people feeling isolated. We need to encourage community events that draw us together. Even small, neighborhood events should be encouraged. I’d like to see more peaceful community projects for people to center themselves. Perhaps a community garden or labyrinth could be something to consider.
Gresley: There is a lot of divisiveness in our community as is around the world during these times. If I am elected, I want to work hard to ensure our sense of community and working together is front and center. We all have a different story and opinion on all matters, and if we take the time to listen to each other, we may find that we’re actually not that different, we have similar values, and want to just have the opportunity to live as we choose. In my opinion, that comes down to ensuring sustainable livability for our citizens. What I mean by that is ensuring every household can have a safe roof over their heads, take care of whomever they need to within their own circle, access to child care/schooling and health resources and some left over for doing what you love. Awareness around and commitment to providing resources to address mental and emotional health.
Demicell: It does not fall under the purview of any government entity to address social issues. Under the U.S. Constitution, elected officials are obligated to secure the rights of individuals — not groups.
Carpenter: Lack of affordable housing, and the number of Rifle citizens living below the poverty level. There appears to be many jobs available; however, meaningful, good-paying jobs are hard to come by in this end of the valley. Once again, we could seriously look into recruiting businesses to relocate to the Rifle area.
5. Has Rifle handled the COVID-19 pandemic well? What can the city do moving forward?
Bornholdt: Overall, the city did really well implementing practices to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and working with Public Health. The best action for the city is to continue to follow what Garfield County Public Health provides, as they are getting their direction from Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).
Strode: I feel confident that Rifle has handled the pandemic as well as it could. As a municipality, we thought it was best to strictly follow county, state and federal guidelines set forth by public health agencies. As a council, we tried to provide as much assistance as possible by channeling Cares Act funding to local businesses, quickly. We provided hundreds of thousands of dollars from state and federal funds to local businesses and Rifle-based nonprofits in grants and forgivable loans. This didn’t fix the problem, but we believe it helped. We also used funds to help citizens who got behind on water bills, allowing them to apply through a nonprofit organization to receive funds to pay their bills. Council even spent more money on cleaning and sanitizing parks so that families and kids could be outside playing safely. Since we don’t know what next week brings, it’s nearly impossible to anticipate what is the best action for the city moving forward. The best action is to support our businesses and citizens as needed and as things change.
Hostettler: I think we have done everything a city should do in this situation, which is to take care of our businesses, citizens and our employees. We have done all this without the federal government making things political. I am very proud of how our city government and our citizens have fought through this pandemic and continue to do so.
Davis: I appreciate the “Smile and Wave” program the city came up with. I think it is important to physically distance, not social distance. Overall I have felt very blessed to live in Rifle through this pandemic. Moving forward we need to keep businesses open.
Degler: The pandemic caused significant impacts to our community in terms of physical/mental health, financial strain and was very isolating for families and individuals alike. I’ve had many conversations with friends, neighbors and customers about the impacts on their lives. The city has made an effort to support our businesses by providing outdoor spaces for dining downtown, grant monies to offset our losses and did not institute a mask mandate, all of which I support. Now that the threat that the virus poses is waning, I would like to see an increased emphasis on community gatherings that bring us back together to foster support and re-engagement.
Gresley: From my position and from looking at the data of death, hospitalizations and cases, yes, Rifle fared reasonably well during the pandemic, although even one life lost is too many. I appreciate the access to testing and vaccine clinics the city and county has made available and from being in and around the community most are respectful of others, their space and what they need to do to stay healthy. In saying that, we need to focus on making sure we are addressing the mental, emotional, physical and financial toll this past 18 months has had on us all and provide resources and guidance to help people come out of this in a positive way. It is imperative we learn from our experiences, assess the failures and the wins and make a plan for managing future crises. How we adapt and evolve is how we will measure how well we have done.
Demicell: Yes, I believe Rifle City Council handled the pandemic well. As your city councilman, I would defend your rights and do what I could to ensure that the council did absolutely nothing related to the pandemic going forward. It is not the place of government to interfere in your private lives or your businesses. It would also be my obligation to protect your rights from overreaching state government or unelected, unaccountable bureaucratic agencies (CDPHE, CDC, WHO). Less government. More freedom. Personal responsibility.
Carpenter: According to our sales tax revenue figures, we have handled COVID-19 well. Even with the downtown infrastructure projects, we saw an increase in revenue. Sales tax revenue is about the only source of income for the city, and we have fared well through these difficult times.
Glenwood Springs airport future balances on edge of two ballot questions
The fate of the Glenwood Springs Municipal Airport rests squarely on the voters’ shoulders.
Voters are being asked whether or not to raise Glenwood Springs’ property taxes by four mills for 20 years, generating approximately $1.2 million a year to pay for airport improvements and a tunnel under the runway, which could connect South Midland Avenue to the South Bridge Project.
A second ballot question asks voters if the city should take on $8 million in debt to fund the South Bridge tunnel, new airport hangars, a new Fixed Base of Operations (FBO) and bringing the airport’s fueling facilities up to code.
If approved by the voters, about $5.5 million raised through taxes and bonds could be used to fund the runway tunnel, and approximately $7 million could go to airport improvements, such as a new FBO, hangars, a fuel farm, perimeter fencing, taxiway lighting and seal coating for the runway every five years for the next 20.
If the voters approve the debt question without the mill levy, the city could have the authority to borrow for the purposes described in the question, but it would not have access to additional airport revenues to repay the debt, Glenwood Springs City Attorney Karl Hanlon said in an email. The outcome would reduce the amount that could be borrowed, Hanlon explained.
If the voters approve the mill levy but not the debt, the city could collect the revenue stream and use it for the projects outlined in the tax question, including repayment of debt; however, Glenwood Springs would not have the authority to issue debt as defined by the TABOR amendment, he said.
The ballot questions, however, don’t explain that voting no on both could be the end of the airport as most users know it.
Without funding for a tunnel under the runway, the city might cut the runway short to build traffic lanes to connect South Bridge with South Midland Avenue and 4 Mile Road — which council members have acknowledged publicly.
During a City Council meeting Sept. 2, Mayor Pro Tem Charlie Willman said, “If you want to keep the airport runway, then vote for this.”
For a majority of council members, the futures of South Bridge Project and the airport are intrinsically tied.
Airport users, on the other hand, want the funding questions kept separate from determining the facility’s future. Often using terms such as “our airport” and “the city’s bridge project,” many airport users feel overlooked in the process of deciding the city-operated facility’s fate.
So much so, they circulated a petition to amend the city’s charter, making it impossible for the city to make major decisions about the airport without consent from the voters. The petition was ultimately rejected by City Clerk Ryan Muse on the grounds it did not have enough valid signatures to meet the statutory requirement for holding a special election, according to city documents.
When Mayor Jonathan Godes pitched the idea of airport improvements funded by a proposed tax, which would need voter approval, he did so without consulting the city’s airport commission, on which he serves as council liaison.
Several airport commissioners said they learned about the proposal only after the council decided to move forward with adding the tax questions to the November ballot — 60 days before the election was scheduled.
“The first time I heard about the tax and bond questions was the day after it was presented to council,” said Dave Merritt, the Glenwood Springs Airport Commission chair. “I was blown away. It was not needed or wanted by anyone at the airport.”
Council Member Tony Hershey said leaving the airport commission out of the ballot question proposal process was a bad-faith measure by council, and he called the ballot measures a “poison pill” for the airport.
Business or pleasure?
Some people view the airport as a hobby hub for retirees with money and time to spare, but for some airport users, the runway is as integral to their business model as a computer or phone.
Pinedale Natural Gas owner Steve Shute, 65, started his natural gas-distribution business in Glenwood during the ’90s. After working for a large natural gas company, he discovered a niche market in rural communities commonly overlooked by large corporate distributors.
His first customers were in Wyoming, and he spent a considerable time driving for work. During one such trip to Pinedale, Wyoming, Shute’s car was totaled in a collision with a Black Angus bull that had entered the roadway.
Shute’s 34-year-old son, Joel, was a child at the time, but he remembers the incident as the turning point from flying being a passion for his father to a business necessity.
“If you had looked at the car, you wouldn’t have believed he survived the crash,” said Joel Shute, who now works and flies with his father.
Nowadays, the Shutes serve about 10,000 customers scattered throughout Kentucky, California, Wyoming and Colorado. While they have employees at some of their distribution sites, they are a small business and do much of the work themselves.
Joel Shute said they wouldn’t be able to continue doing business if they had to rely on commercial flights, which don’t connect to the small, rural communities they specialize in. And driving is not a feasible alternative, he explained.
“Most of the pilots out here use their planes for business in some way,” Joel Shute said. “We probably only have 3-4 people who do it solely as a hobby.”
Flying out of the Rifle Garfield County Airport is not an option for Glenwood users, either, Steve Shute said.
“There are about 60 planes here,” he said. “We have several hangars and more than 30 tie-downs (for storing planes outdoors). Rifle has zero hangars and about 22 tie-downs.”
A recent airport commission appointee, Joel Shute said the ballot initiatives — specifically the improvements they propose to fund — did not reflect the users’ needs or wants.
“This tax proposal is a ruse,” he said. “It’s only purpose is to kill the airport.”
Weaving in South Bridge
Merritt does not own a plane, nor is he a pilot, but he’s lived by the airport for decades and currently serves as the airport commission chair.
“Living out by the airport, I appreciate it,” Merritt said. “I wanted to serve on the commission, because I want it to be a good organization and amenity of the city.”
A self-described “govvy geek,” Merritt is an engineer, who is passionate about encouraging good governance through serving on boards and commissions. He served on the Glenwood Springs City Council from 2001-09 and dedicated 12 years to the Colorado River Water Conservation District.
For Merritt, improving the airport and funding the South Bridge Project are both important and beneficial to Glenwood Springs residents, but he said they should be approached separately.
“The tunnel is supposed to be a piece of the South Bridge Project, not the airport,” Merritt said. “As an enterprise fund, the airport is self-sufficient. It does need some of the items on the city’s list, but we have a number of options for funding those.”
During the council’s Sept. 2 meeting, airport commission members suggested letting private donors build hangars at the airport. Merritt also said Classic Air Medical has expressed an interest in building a new FBO at the airport and sharing space with city staff.
Gary Vick, a pilot and part-time Glenwood Springs resident, said the city is putting the cart before the horse by trying to fund a tunnel under the airport before securing the rest of the money needed to complete the South Bridge Project, which is estimated to cost about $57 million.
The city reserved $20 million in bonding capacity from the Acquisitions and Improvements Fund for South Bridge, Glenwood Springs spokesperson Bryana Starbuck said in an email. The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority committed $4 million in Destination 2040 funds for construction, but Glenwood Springs is requesting the funding be shifted to right of way acquisition. If the RFTA request is approved, Starbuck said approximately $37 million in commitments will still be needed for the South Bridge, Starbuck said.
If approved by voters, the mill levy could raise about $1.2 million annually for the airport, based on current property values, for 20 years, or about $24 million — nearly double the estimated $12.5 million needed for the proposed improvements, repairs and tunnel construction. Vick said the math doesn’t add up.
“As the properties increase in value, it will generate even more money,” he said. “It seems like an undefined way to get some extra tax money, but the question language doesn’t really define what they would use it for.”
The tax question states the increased mill levy would be used to fund the airport’s operational and capital costs, listing some projects. While the tax question language indicates it would be used for airport projects and the South Bridge tunnel, it also states the additional monies would not be limited to the projects listed in the ballot question. The bond question states the city could increase its debt to pay for one or more of the following: South Bridge tunnel, new airport hangars, a new FBO and a fuel farm.
“The city is going to say if the tax doesn’t pass, the people don’t support the airport, so they can do whatever they want,” Vick said. “I can’t speak to the motives of the council, but I can say what I think the result will be. The citizens are going to reject (the tax increase), and the city is going to use that as justification to close (the airport).”
‘Do you want to keep the airport?’
Although a majority of council members voted to put the tax and bond questions on the ballot, multiple members spoke against the move.
Council Member Ingrid Wussow said she did not support the ballot questions, because she didn’t think they were worded honestly.
“The way the questions are written, we’re asking people if they want to fund airport improvements, and in turn, the South Bridge,” Wussow said. “When really, we’re asking, ‘Do you want to keep the airport?’”
By not including the airport commission in the process of selecting improvement projects and putting together a funding plan, she said the council missed an opportunity to serve both the airport users and the community at large.
“I’m disappointed,” Wussow said. “We on council are not subject matter experts in every field. We have boards and commissions so that we can have passionate community members helping to inform our decisions.”
Godes said he voted for the tax and bond questions because airport maintenance and improvement have long been neglected.
“We have always treated this airport differently than any other city facility, because the users have a private club and have always hung their hat on the idea that the airport doesn’t cost the city money — until now,” he said. “The South Bridge tunnel and the airport are interrelated, because if we did not have to have a runway that can accomodate small, private aircraft, we would not need a tunnel that costs $5.5 million.”
Without a runway, Godes said the airport could still serve as a helipad and refueling station for firefighting efforts and Classic Air Medical, a privately owned medical transport company that serves hospitals around the Roaring Fork Valley.
“Unequivocally, this council, the citizens, the hospital and the firefighting community understand the absolute necessity to always have helicopter operations at the Glenwood airport,” he said.
Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at email@example.com.
Quality of education a focal point in Roaring Fork School Board candidates forum
Meeting the diverse, ever-changing needs of students through improving teacher compensation and promoting parental involvement was a central point of discussion in a forum for the four Roaring Fork School District candidates at the Morgridge Commons in the Glenwood Springs Library on Monday night.
The Issues & Answers Forum introduced Glenwood Springs’ ballot measures for the upcoming election and asked questions of the candidates for the Board of Education’s two vacating seats.
Chase McWhorter is running against Kenny Teitler for the District A seat. Kathryn Kuhlenberg is running against Steven Fotion for District E.
Kuhlenberg and Teitler are both educators by trade, while McWhorter and Fotion are business administrators touting an outsider’s perspective.
In their evaluations of the state of education locally, Teitler and Kuhlenberg both focused on how the expectations for teachers have changed and made quality education a moving target. McWhorter and Fotion both felt the bar has been lowered nationally.
“Our expectations for educating have become skewed, if you will, since we started teaching to testing instead of teaching to think,” Fotion said.
With all candidates believing there is room for improvement locally, the question became of methodology. Parental involvement, meeting students’ individual needs — especially across the English/Spanish language barrier — and increasing teacher wages for means of retention were all mentioned.
Kuhlenberg highlighted the newly mandated universal preschool programming in the state of Colorado as a way to set up students for success early.
“This program can go very well or very wrong,” Kuhlenberg said on the implementation of the programming in 2023-24. “(Early childhood education) is our only chance to prevent an achievement gap from forming. … If we can prevent this gap from forming, we’re not playing catchup with 13-year-olds, 15-year-olds.”
Kuhlenberg said utilizing mill levy override funds successfully can help promote universal preschool. She and Teitler came out in heavy favor for the mill levy override increase that would source $7.7 million from property owners to increase salaries to increase employee wages.
Fotion said he is “currently” against ballot issue 5B, but his position is shifting as he learns more about where the funds are going. McWhorter expressed a similar concern, saying he’d want to be sure the money was going to teachers.
“This one is tricky for me because I would say, in general, I’m usually against any sort of taxes unless you have exhausted cost cuts,” McWhorter said. “I completely empathize with the cost of living here. My main concern with the mill levy in supporting it is you would want a microscope on that money to make sure it is going to teachers.”
In a presentation earlier on the 5B ballot issue, Roaring Fork School District Superintendent Rob Stein and Glenwood Springs Middle School Teacher Autumn Rivera said the funds would result in a 10-12% raise for most staff — including maintenance, bus drivers and others — but not district leadership.
In a district with a majority Latino population, the issue of reaching these students directly was considered. Teitler, a bilingual veteran of the Roaring Fork School District, said more needs to be done to bridge the achievement gap between Latino students and their Anglo peers. He said the latter tests at 40 points higher.
“We do need to look at what children need according to their background, their education,” Teitler said. ”If you have a student who is starting kindergarten who doesn’t speak English, you can’t teach them the same way you can teach another student who’s coming into kindergarten who is fluent in English.”
All candidates agreed that promoting parental involvement is an immediate way to help foster student success. All said some form of increasing access to the school board would be a benefit, though McWhorter suggested including boundaries and Kuhlenberg suggested assigning a board member to act as a point person for a selection of schools.
Before the board candidate forum, panels on each of the Glenwood Springs sample ballot issues were held.
On Amendment 78, the Custodial Fund Appropriations Initiative, Michael Fields of Colorado Rising State Action provided a statement in favor via a provided statement.
Fields also wrote in favor of Proposition 120, the Reduce Property Tax Rates and Retain $25 Million in TABOR Surplus Revenue Initiative. Marianne Virgili of the Colorado Mountain College board of trustees spoke against it, saying lowering property taxes does not directly translate to lower rent rates.
On ballot issues 2A and 2B, which would increase taxes and the city of Glenwood Springs’ debt for construction work relating to the Glenwood Springs Municipal Airport, Mayor Jonathan Godes submitted a statement in favor. Gregg Rippy, of the Federal Mineral Lease District and a pilot, said, “This ballot issue is an exorbitant price tag not being asked for by the current airport users.”
Rivera and Stein addressed concerns on 5B, the mill levy override increase.
“What we’re looking at is cutting programs, increasing class sizes, because we’ve reached a point where there’s nothing left to do,” Stein said.
Ballots were mailed out Oct. 8. The election is Nov. 2.
Chamber sponsors election Issues and Answers Night Monday
Issues and Answers night is set to take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Monday, inviting candidates for the Roaring Fork school board and representatives to talk about the various local and state ballot questions.
Issues and Answers is presented by the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, Glenwood Springs Post Independent and radio station KMTS. The event will be moderated by Post Independent Publisher Bryce Jacobson.
In-person attendance is welcome at Morgridge Commons, 815 Cooper Ave., second floor, in Glenwood Springs. Masks are required in common areas, per Colorado Mountain College policy.
The forum can also be viewed via Zoom, with Spanish translation available, at:
Expected to attend are Roaring Fork School District Board of Education candidates Chase McWhorter and Kenny Teitler (District A), and Steven Fotion and Kathryn Kuhlenberg (District E).
Representatives will explain and answer questions about the city of Glenwood Springs ballot questions 2A and 2B regarding funding for municipal airport improvements and a tunnel under the airport runway that is proposed to be built as part of the South Bridge project, and the Roaring Fork School District mill levy override (Ballot Issue 5B).
Representatives have also been invited to make statements regarding statewide Amendment 78 (transferring state custodial funds to the legislature, instead of the state treasurer) and Proposition 120 (reduction of state property tax rates).
Foros electorales programados en Carbondale y Glenwood Springs
Con las elecciones del 2 de noviembre en el horizonte, dos foros públicos podrían brindar a los votantes la oportunidad de familiarizarse con las medidas electorales y con los candidatos a la Junta de Educación del Distrito Escolar de Roaring Fork.
Una reunión comunitaria en Morgridge Commons está programada para destacar las medidas electorales locales y estatales, así como presentar a los candidatos a la junta escolar de Roaring Fork, según un comunicado de prensa de Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.
El Foro de Problemas y Respuestas será moderado por Ron Milhorn, director de noticias de Colorado West Broadcasting/KMTS Radio, de 5:30 a 7:30 p.m. el 11 de octubre, en el segundo piso de la biblioteca pública de Glenwood Springs, en 815 Cooper Ave.
Los miembros de la comunidad pueden asistir en persona o virtualmente. Se publicará un enlace de asistencia en GlenwoodChamber.com/issues-answers antes de la reunión.
Las preguntas para los candidatos o sobre las próximas medidas electorales también se pueden enviar a GlenwoodChamber.com/issues-answers.
Durante un foro de candidatos para la junta escolar de Roaring Fork en Carbondale, los candidatos planean compartir información sobre sí mismos y responder a preguntas seleccionadas por el moderador del foro, Cristal Logan, vicepresidente de Aspen Community Programs and Engagement del Aspen Institute.
Horario de 5:30 a 6:30 p.m. El 13 de octubre en la oficina de Carbondale del Distrito Escolar de Roaring Fork, en 400 Sopris Ave. Se requerirán máscaras y habrá asientos disponibles limitados, según un comunicado de prensa del distrito escolar. El público no tendrá la oportunidad de participar en la reunión, pero los residentes del área pueden enviar sugerencias de preguntas en línea a través del enlace RFSD.K12.co.us.
El foro está programado para ser transmitido en vivo. Comuníquese con la Oficial de Información Pública de RFSD, Kelsy Been, al 970-384-6009 o por correo electrónico a firstname.lastname@example.org para obtener más información sobre cómo enviar preguntas o asistir a la reunión virtualmente.
Candidatos a las elecciones de la Junta de Educación del Distrito Escolar de Roaring Fork
Distrito A (período de cuatro años): Chase McWhorter, Kenneth “Kenny” Teitler
Distrito E (período de cuatro años): Steven G. Fotion, Kathryn Kuhlenberg
Puedes contactar al reportero Ike Fredregill al 970-384-9154 o por correo electrónico a email@example.com.
Colorado River Fire Rescue response times could hinge on upcoming mill levy vote
Colorado River Fire Rescue’s service capabilities were dealt another blow last week — and another is expected soon.
“We just sold an ambulance yesterday,” CRFR Chief Leif Sackett said Friday. “Within the next week, we will have one of our reserve engines that we sold to a department in Ohio leave as well.”
On Nov. 2, district voters will be asked to support a mill levy increase that could help the financially strapped fire district recuperate from substantial losses. A combination of a declining oil and gas industry and decreases in property valuations in 2016 led to CRFR’s budget shrinking by about 35% or about $2.4 million.
Rifle City Council member Brian Condie said the mill levy increase is needed.
“I think they’ve done a great job with what they’ve been given, and if they can get some more money, that service will go up for sure,” Condie said. “But if they don’t get the money they need, the service will go down. I mean, that’s, that’s obvious.”
CRFR has relied heavily on reserves to temporarily shore up its budget, but is now forced to sell equipment in order to make ends meet. Sackett said the district that covers more than 25,000 residents over a 851-square-mile radius across Western Garfield County has already sold wildland engines, a ladder truck and a hazmat rig, Sackett said.
“It’s tough to do when we used to have the staffing and personnel to keep those apparatus in service,” he said. “It’s a hard thing to do to make those cutbacks, but we’re doing everything we possibly can to help bring in revenue any way possible.”
The mill levy will work in a phased-in funding proposal. If the mill levy passes, voters should see 3 mills added to their property taxes through 2026.
In total, CRFR is asking up to $48.26 per $100,000 of a home’s actual market value.
According to the district, CRFR’s tax-funded budget was $6.61 million in 2016 and decreased to $4.11 million 2017 and has stayed level since. If all three phases of the mill levy are enacted, it would bring CRFR’s tax funded revenues to approximately $7.4 million. That would bring CRFR’s budget back to what it was in 2016 with an additional 12% to account for 2% inflation per year.
In May 2020, CRFR had previously asked district voters to pass another major mill levy, a request that failed by 250 votes. The defeat prevented the district from filling six vacant positions, and Station No. 43 in south Rifle was closed.
Currently, the district deploys 11 personnel per shift, with 33 shift personnel in total, Sackett said.
“We’re looking at reducing staffing further and possibly closing another station,” he said. “If we do that, our response times are going to increase more.”
This could increase CRFR’s average response time by 10 minutes.
CRFR Lt. Landon A. Churchill said further decreased staffing would diminish the district’s ability to respond to larger fires, like box stores or large structure fires.
It takes even more personnel to cover multiple calls at the same time.
“Fires double in size about every 30 seconds or so,” he said. “If you don’t receive medical care within about the first five-ish minutes of a major medical emergency, your chances of surviving or not having long-term damage decrease drastically.”
Churchill said it’s hard to distribute CRFR’s resources wide enough to bring response times under five minutes.
“The greatest challenge that we’ve had is that we are very often called to do a lot of work with very few people,” he said. “Lately we’re very commonly having six, seven or eight people working a day. If a house were on fire, that’s not enough people to really put it out effectively, in the time frame that we need to.”
Churchill can’t overstate it. Echoing his chief, he said the mill levy failing could mean further closures of CRFR stations. This could lead to five or six full-time staff covering three towns per day.
The results could be catastrophic, Churchill said.
“It’s a difficult, difficult job for everybody,” he said. “The other side of that coin is, it’s exponentially more dangerous for us.”
A SHOW OF SUPPORT
According to a Friday news release, the New Castle Town Council has already officially provided its support for the proposed CRFR mill levy.
“On September 21, the New Castle Town Council approved Resolution TC2021-13 titled ‘A resolution of the New Castle Town Council supporting the Colorado River Fire Rescue district’s ballot issue to be decided by the voters at the November 2, 2021 election,’” the release states. “The resolution notes the value and importance of CRFR to the town and the positive impact that passage of Ballot Issue 6A will have on the health, safety and welfare of the Town and its residents.”
On Aug. 10, 2021, the fire district’s board of directors adopted the following phased-in mill levy increase ballot issue to be submitted to the voters during the coordinated election the Garfield County Clerk and Recorder will conduct on Nov. 2, 2021:
Shall Colorado River Fire Protection District taxes be increased $4,873,747.72 (final 2026 fiscal year amount after all phased-in increases) annually from an additional 6.75 phased-in operating mill levy imposed at a rate of 3 mills in 2021 (collected in 2022), an additional 2 mills in 2023 (collected in 2024), and an additional 1.75 mills in 2025 (collected in 2026), for the purposes of providing fire protection, ambulance, emergency medical response, rescue, safety and support services by the district, including but not limited to:
• Addressing lost revenue and budget constraints on the district’s revenues caused by economic downturn;
• Addressing community growth by recruiting and retaining firefighters and paramedics to maintain emergency response times and emergency services and bring their salaries in line with nearby communities;
• Providing training and life-saving medical, fire and other emergency response techniques to promote firefighter and citizen safety;
• Ongoing maintenance and scheduled replacement of fire, medical and rescue equipment, fire trucks and ambulances to maintain reliability and protect first responders and citizens;
• Ensuring financial transparency and accountability by making the most current district budget and audit available to every taxpayer on the district’s website;
And shall all revenue and any earnings on this phased-in tax constitute a permanent voter-approved revenue change within the meaning of Article X, section 20 of the Colorado constitution and an exception to the limitations set forth in section 29-1-301 of the Colorado revised statutes, and any other law?
Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roaring Fork School District Board of Education candidate Q&A
Two candidates vie for each of the Roaring Fork School District’s soon-to-be vacated seats for District A and District E.
Steven Fotion and Kathryn Kuhlenberg are running for the District E seat, currently held by Jennifer Scherer. Chase McWhorter and Kenny Teitler are competing for District A, currently held by Jen Rupert. Chris Becker will remain on the ballot for District E but is not actively campaigning and endorsed Kuhlenberg and Teitler. He was not asked to participate in this questionnaire.
Ballots will be mailed out before Oct. 16 for the Nov. 2 election.
As election day draws nearer, the Post Independent issued a questionnaire to each of the four candidates.
Why are you running for the Roaring Fork School District Board of Education?
Chase McWhorter, District A: We are starting a familiar bureaucratic cycle that needs to be stopped: 1. Problems with performance are blamed on factors “out there.” 2. Increasing revenue via taxes is the only solution. 3. Performance continues to lag. 4. Repeat. Housing costs, staffing issues, changing demographics, etc., are all blamed for why performance lags. We need a board that pushes back on this standard narrative and offers other solutions to these problems that all other school districts across the U.S. face.
Kenny Teitler, District A: During my 26 years working as a teacher in the Roaring Fork School District in Basalt and Carbondale, I often thought how amazing it would be to have a teacher’s perspective on the school board. Having retired from teaching two years ago, I am excited to be able to put to use the experiences and perspective that I gained from being in the classroom. Additionally, having two daughters who attended Carbondale public schools K-12, and who have recently graduated, will allow me to bring a parent’s perspective to this position. I understand how district level policies directly impact schools and teachers, and, as a result, student learning. I will work to help make sure that district decisions will support teacher effectiveness and student productivity.
Steven Fotion, District E: After coming to the conclusion that more parental participation is required, I decided to run for the school board. With the current state of education, a balanced input is critical from both parents and educators. If you are not happy with the direction things are heading, then action is required. The action I have chosen to take is actively participating on the school board if elected.
Kathryn Kuhlenberg, District E: First and foremost, I am passionate about our district and the education of our students. My three children are just starting their student careers in the RFSD, and, as a family, we have about 17 years ahead of us in our public schools. Our district depends on committed volunteer school board members to devote their time, energy and efforts toward our shared community goal of student success. And I have always wanted to offer more to our district. I am now at a point in my own life and career where I have the time and energy to serve the community in this way. Our board needs to be made up of a dynamic group of individuals who can move mountains in order to elevate education. If elected, I will do exactly that.
What are your qualifications, and how do you believe you will benefit the organization?
McWhorter, District A: I believe I have three key qualifications: 1) I’m not beholden to any current staff or agenda, so my loyalties would be evenly distributed to all stakeholders never losing sight of the ultimate objective of improving student performance. 2) I am open-minded yet objective, so I would be willing and able to listen to current board members and staff. 3) I have 12-plus years’ experience identifying operational inefficiencies and improving systems within organizations with an emphasis on finances.
Teitler, District A: During my years teaching, I was involved in many leadership positions that will help me be an effective school board member. I was a member of the school accountability committees at Basalt Elementary School, Crystal River Elementary School and at Carbondale Middle School. I also served on the district accountability committee. I was on numerous principal hiring committees and on a committee for hiring a previous superintendent. I was a teacher representative on curriculum and development committees in math, English language development and reading. I am a good listener, I value multiple perspectives, I create positive relationships with others, and I have a strong understanding of this district and its communities. My decision-making process will be based on what is best for all students.
Fotion, District E: As a general contractor, business owner and project manager, budgeting, scheduling and negotiating are critical skills that I use every day and are a definite prerequisite for this position, along with negotiating, listening and problem solving.
Kuhlenberg, District E: I have an extensive educational background and professional experience related to education, education policy, employment, finance and children. I have spent many years studying education and have been involved in various capacities. I have undergraduate degrees in education policy and child psychology, as well as a law degree with specialties in education policy and civil rights. Professional roles include: teacher, administrator, employment attorney, parent advocate, intern at the U.S. Department of Education, attorney representing students and teachers in a suit against a school district, and attorney advising school districts on aspects of employment. I currently own, operate and teach in a preschool that serves 50-plus families at any given time. My entire life and career have been focused on education. I am ready to use all of this in service to our district.
What do you see as the most important issue facing the school district?
McWhorter, District A: Student performance. Voters need to decide whether performance in RFSD is on the right track, and this goes back to leadership. Staffing issues, demographic changes and budgets are problems all school districts face, and often these become scapegoats for falling performance. Going back to question No. 1, we need to get out of this cycle, otherwise we will be hearing the same problems/solutions every four years. Leadership needs to be more accountable and resourceful in serving students. It all starts with leadership.
Teitler, District A: I believe the most important issue facing the school district is to ensure academic success for all students. Our district has a diversity of learning needs, and we need effective programming in place to meet all of those needs. The district needs to continue to expand offering advanced placement courses and concurrent enrollment classes through CMC. The district needs to offer effective programming to close the achievement gap for our second language learners while continuing to promote programs such as the Seal of Biliteracy and native language literacy that value bilingualism. I also would like to see the district continue to explore more vocational education opportunities for its students. On top of all that, teacher recruitment and retention are important for ensuring positive student growth.
Fotion, District E: Funding and staffing.
Kuhlenberg, District E: I could list any number of problems that we all see and feel: budget concerns, staffing, low wages, achievement, mental health concerns, COVID-19 learning loss. But, that wouldn’t be what I have repeatedly heard from parents and teachers as the most pressing concern. It is difficult to identify this problem, but it is representative of our society at large. There seems to be a deep division in our district and a breakdown of communication channels. This has impacted our ability to communicate and work together toward solving the more commonly identified problems. As a school board member, I will work to resolve this issue by rebuilding trust from the top down. I will reassess how the board is gathering input and disseminating information. I am committed to developing clear, consistent and frequent channels of communication so that we can mend the divide and move our district forward together.
In 2018-19, 55% of the student population in Roaring Fork schools identified as Hispanic. Per the 2020 census, the Latino population increased in Glenwood Springs, Rifle and Silt, though it declined in Carbondale and Basalt. How do you plan to educate yourself on and serve the Hispanic student body?
McWhorter, District A: As a starting point, I’d listen to parents, teachers and my fellow board members on what has been done to date and what they believe is needed moving forward. As a general perspective, it often appears these are the types of issues that are addressed in echo chambers. I want to listen to what has worked and what has not worked and make decisions accordingly.
Teitler, District A: I have had a lot of hands-on and educational experience that would benefit our district’s Hispanic student body. I have an undergraduate teaching certificate in linguistic and cultural diversity, and my master’s degree is in reading with an emphasis on second language learners. I have taught English as a Second Language classes throughout my career, as well as having taught in bilingual classes in both Basalt and Carbondale. I am fluent in Spanish and have led many Spanish-language parent meetings throughout my career. I know how important language and culture are to each other, and will work hard at making sure that the parents of our Hispanic student population feel comfortable participating in school activities and decision-making processes.
Fotion, District E: We need to find out why they are being treated as second-class citizens on the basis of educational opportunities and if they actually feel as if they are being treated this way. We need to work on communications and solutions that would allow them the same opportunities as the rest of the student body. … Their potential to contribute is far underrated.
Kuhlenberg, District E: Anyone seeking this position needs to either have or develop a thorough understanding of the needs of our Hispanic student population. I have some experience acting as a legal advocate for Hispanic students and teachers challenging changes to curriculum, but I have not had those experiences here in our valley. As a board member, I will seek input directly from students, parents, stakeholders and organizations already established and committed to supporting this portion of our community and student body. I will work tirelessly to remove barriers, close the achievement gap, and facilitate equitable outcomes for all students.
Are you in favor or against the mill levy override? Why?
McWhorter, District A: This is clearly a trap question since the mill levy is “for the teachers,” so to be against it would mean you are “against increasing teacher pay.” I’d support it this time, but here is where I would focus my attention as a board member after it is passed: How much is going to retention vs. how much is going to bringing in new teachers from outside the district? In general and in the future, I believe cost cuts should be exhausted before jumping to a mill levy override.
Teitler, District A: Yes, I very much support the mill levy override! Teachers are the lifeblood of our district, and they deserve to be compensated accordingly. According to the RFSD’s homepage, the Roaring Fork School District has the third highest cost of living among Colorado school districts, but district teachers have only the 37th highest average salary among Colorado school districts. The vast majority of this mill levy override is dedicated to raising teacher salaries. This mill levy override will help the district stay competitive in recruiting and retaining high quality teachers.
Fotion, District E: My knee jerk response is no. However, much more information is required. The mill levy should not be changed until all cost savings and budgetary analysis have been thoroughly surveyed.
Kuhlenberg, District E: I fully support the mill levy override and will work diligently to ensure that every dollar is spent effectively and efficiently. Our valley’s public education system is in the midst of a major crisis — our schools are critically underfunded. There simply aren’t enough dollars to support the level of education that we want and need to offer our students. Colorado currently ranks 47th in the nation on per pupil funding; we receive almost $3,000 less per student than the national average. At the same time, the cost of living in the Roaring Fork Valley is more than 30% higher than the national average. Our teachers need and deserve wage increases that correlate with the cost of living in this valley. Beyond that, we need support staff that will be there for our children — to make them lunch, to drive them home, to keep our schools clean. We can’t do these things without people, and we can’t attract and retain these people without money to pay their wages. Providing quality education is directly dependent on recruiting and retaining a high quality, professional and committed workforce.
What do you believe is the best way to solve the staffing crisis?
McWhorter, District A: This is a large/complex issue that all organizations are facing, so I don’t think there is a quick fix or a “best” way. I’m not just going to say something catchy like “increase teacher pay.” I can say the starting point would be getting multiple stakeholder perspectives on the root cause when it comes specifically to our school district. Is it as simple as housing costs and pay or is that just what teachers who go to other districts tell us? I’ve spoken with many teachers who have left the RFSD for other reasons other than pay/housing.
Teitler, District A: The first thing that is important in solving the staffing crisis is to raise teacher salaries. Too often teaching positions are offered to great candidates, yet these prospective teachers turn down the position when they realize the cost of living in our valley. Also, we need to continue to work on supplying teacher housing. In addition to district teacher housing, we need to continue to collaborate with outside organizations. A fine example of this is the work that went into creating the Basalt Vista Affordable Housing Community. We also need to look at ways of continuing to work with Colorado Mountain College and other universities also, to return our graduating high school students to the valley as certified teachers.
Fotion, District E: Affordable housing, income adjusted to allow prime teaching candidates to afford to live here in our valley.
Kuhlenberg, District E: Attracting and retaining high quality, professional educators is imperative for our students and our district. We are only as good as our teachers. The district needs to open lines of communication between the board, staff and administrators to determine how we can best support one another. I will work with all stakeholders to develop a comprehensive plan outlining how we can better support staff in their roles and improve morale and school culture. Additionally, the district needs to work hard to pass the mill levy override and use those funds to pay our teachers a wage that correlates with the cost of living in our mountain community. As a board member, I will look at this issue creatively and collaborate with community partners to create housing and other local benefits for teachers.
How do you think Roaring Fork School District should approach mask-wearing for students?
McWhorter, District A: First, mandates like masks should not be driven by financial incentives from state or federal government. Second, do we anticipate masks will be a four-year topic/problem that will be relevant the entire four-year term? Masks have become a partisan distraction from the core mission of educating. Leadership, budgets and curriculum should be in focus this election. From a decision-making process, I do think there should be a more transparent, democratic process rather than dictating to families and taking a one-size-fits-all approach as students range in age, health needs and ability to process information.
Teitler, District A: I believe that the Roaring Fork School District should follow CDC and Colorado Department of Health guidelines that determine when masks should and should not be worn in school.
Fotion, District E: Freedom of choice! This topic being very controversial needs intense, non bias research to come to a safe and effective conclusion. I do strongly support the parents’ rights to choose, since the risk assessment threshold is different for every single individual. I am vehemently opposed to mask wearing mandates.
Kuhlenberg, District E: It isn’t ideal that our kids and teachers are masked — it’s uncomfortable, it’s hard to manage, and it’s another reminder that we are battling a pandemic. As a parent and as a school board candidate, my top priority is keeping kids and teachers in classrooms. We know the benefits of that, and we know that we all need it for our mental health, our students’ learning and achievement and for so many other reasons. So if masking and vaccines are what we need to be in classrooms and they are what is recommended by our local, state and national public health agencies, then I defer to them. There are so many other pressing issues facing our district, and I believe those are the issues that deserve the majority of our time and attention.
Los quatro candidatos a la junta del distrito escolar de Roaring Fork en sus propias palabras
Cinco candidatos competirán por dos puestos en la junta de educación del distrito escolar de Roaring Fork el 2 de noviembre.
Los candidatos para el Distrito E—actualmente ocupado por Jennifer Schurer—son Steven Fotion y Kathryn Kuhlenberg.
En el Distrito A, Chase McWhorter y Kenny Teitler competirán por el puesto de Jen Rupert.
Según Ballotpedia, se espera que los secretarios del condado envíen por correo las boletas entre 18 y 22 días antes de las elecciones, o el 15 de octubre a más tardar para las elecciones del 2 de noviembre.
Antes de sus campañas, el Post Independent se dirigió a cada candidato para solicitar una breve introducción en sus propias palabras. Aquí están los cinco candidatos para la junta de educación del distrito escolar de Roaring Fork:
Antecedentes personales: No tengo experiencia en educación y no he vivido en Roaring Fork Valley más tiempo que los otros candidatos. Soy un padre con hijos a punto de ingresar al sistema escolar. Trabajo en publicaciones y me gradué de la Universidad del Sur de California, donde combiné la universidad con ser miembro de los equipos de fútbol campeones del Rose Bowl.
Filosofía educativa: Se debe enseñar a los estudiantes cómo pensar, no qué pensar. Todo lo que esté fuera de las materias básicas debe dejarse en manos de los padres.
Filosofía de las partes interesadas: Se debe priorizar el empoderamiento de la relación alumno/padre/maestro. La junta o el personal administrativo deben apoyar, no dictar, con la junta que supervisa al personal administrativo.
Filosofía organizacional: la transparencia y la rendición de cuentas deben priorizarse y los miembros electos de la junta deben recordar que son elegidos para servir a los votantes.
Filosofía política: “Reglas para ti, no para mí” el elitismo burocrático es un problema en todo el país y no se limita a ningún partido político en particular.
Mi nombre es Kenny Teitler. He vivido en Carbondale durante 26 años y en Roaring Fork Valley durante 29 años. Enseñé en el distrito escolar de Roaring Fork durante 26 años, tanto en Basalt como en Carbondale, antes de jubilarme en 2019. Actualmente doy clases de GED en Colorado Mountain College.
Mi esposa también dedicó su carrera a la educación, y tenemos dos hijas que se graduaron de las escuelas de Carbondale y este año están en el tercer y cuarto año de la universidad.
Mis metas como miembro de la junta escolar son representar la perspectiva de los maestros sobre lo que se necesita en el currículo y el desarrollo, ayudar a retener, contratar y pagar a los maestros, cerrar la brecha de aprendizaje que existe en nuestras escuelas y ser un puente entre los comunidad y las escuelas.
Creo que mis experiencias como maestro y como padre me hacen un buen candidato para este puesto.
Mi nombre es Steven Fotion. Soy padre de cuatro hijos y residente del valle desde hace más de 30 años. Decidí postularme para la junta escolar, Asiento E, con la intención de hacer una diferencia al proporcionar un conducto para la comunicación entre padres, estudiantes, maestros y la junta.
Soy producto de una escuela pública, junto con nuestros tres hijos que se graduaron de Aspen High. Nuestro más joven asistió a Basalt Middle y actualmente asiste a Cornerstone Christian. Estar involucrado en una variedad de instituciones educativas locales me convierte en un excelente candidato para la junta escolar. Traeré un punto de vista justo, equilibrado y razonable y seré una voz para los estudiantes y padres de este valle.
Como propietario de un negocio, voluntario para organizaciones sin fines de lucro, encontrará mi energía y entusiasmo incansables. Soy una voz justa de la razón que considera todos los puntos de vista.
Durante la mayor parte de mi vida adulta, he trabajado en educación en nuestro valle como maestra y administradora. Tengo tres hijos, el mayor es un estudiante de primer grado en Basalt Elementary, y soy dueña de un preescolar donde enseño. Mi educación incluye una licenciatura con especialización en Política Educativa: Navegando el Sistema de Escuelas Públicas y Psicología, y un título en derecho con un enfoque en la educación de la primera infancia. Trabajé para el Departamento de Educación de los E.U., como maestra de educación especial preescolar y como abogada de derecho laboral, que incluyó asesorar a las escuelas. A lo largo de mi vida, la educación ha sido una fuerza orientadora. Mi esposo y yo regresamos al valle hace siete años cuando asumí mi cargo actual. Tengo la capacidad y el deseo de hacer más por nuestro distrito y veo a la junta escolar como una oportunidad ideal para hacerlo.