With ballots due this coming Tuesday, the Citizen Telegram wanted to get to know the candidates for Rifle City Council, sending each candidate the same five questions.
Rifle electors will be voting on who will obtain or retain seats on City Council and two ballot questions.
There are seven candidates running for three Council positions: Brian Condie, John Max Doose, Joe P. Elliott, Ed Green, Clint Hostettler, Raquel Mendizabal and Dana Wood
All council seats are at-large positions and the top three candidates receiving the most votes will be elected to serve four-year terms.
The two ballot questions voters will decide relate to procedural provisions of the current Rifle Municipal Code.
The first is an effort to move the municipal elections to November to coordinate with the state of Colorado elections.
The second ballot question addresses the issue of the commencement time for newly elected Council members. The current city charter provision mandates that the term for each newly elected Council member shall begin at 8 p.m. on the first Monday following the municipal election. The new language would move that date to the first City Council organizational meeting, which is set by ordinance.
Ballots were mailed out last month for the Sept. 10 election, and must be received on election day.
Meet the Candidates
How long have you lived in Rifle and what made you want to run for City Council?
Brian Condie: My wife and I moved to Rifle with our five children in 2002 when I accepted the position as airport director of the Rifle Airport. We have been very grateful to raise our children in this area. I wish to show my appreciation by serving on the City Council and preserving as much as possible the small community feeling we now enjoy.
John Doose: We moved to Rifle from New Castle in 2006. I was born and raised in Glenwood.
Joe P. Elliott: I’ve lived in Rifle my whole life, and basically I was guilted to run for city council a couple years back by a friend. My friend said all I did was golf, go to work and go skiing, and I took that as giving nothing back. So I felt bad and applied and once I got on I really realized how important it was.
Ed Green: Linda and I came to Rifle in 1998, the year in which I became the Garfield County Manager. I first ran and was elected to the Council a year into my retirement in 2015. At that time, Mayor Jay Miller asked me to run since there were five vacancies on the Council and Jay felt my background in both private industry and in local government would be of benefit to the Council.
Clint Hostettler: Twenty years; grew up in Silt and attended Rifle High School.
Raquel Mendizabal: I’d love to share a little bit about me. I was born in Puebla, Mexico. Moved to Rifle when I was 5 years old; lived in Rifle collectively for 20 years. Throughout the years I have lived in Rifle, I have learned to love and appreciate the city and community. Being a member of Rifle’s Down Town Development board and Grand River Hospital board of directors, I have learned so much and I am thrilled to share my knowledge of tools and resources the city has to offer for our community.
Dana Wood: I’ve lived in Rifle for eight years. I was on City Council from 2015-2017 and really found it to be a great experience. I decided to run again because I firmly believe that the best way to make positive change in the world is at the local level. I have great relationships and connections with lots of folks in the community and I want to the person that can best represent their interests to make Rifle an even better place to live, work and play.
Where would you like to see Rifle improve?
Condie: I believe the Rifle city strategic plan is very well thought out and gives the City Council the correct direction to proceed. The improvements I would like to see are as follows: an employee capital management plan that goes beyond simple salary as compensation for the city staff’s hard work and dedication; providing the community need services; road maintenance; water service; waste management and law enforcement within a prudent budget; continuing to invest in the recreational welfare of the community with continued and expanded services offered by the Parks and Recreation Department.
Doose: I would not make huge changes. Rifle has great leaders and citizens who genuinely care about their community. I hope to continue this trend.
Elliott: We are beginning to look at a need for transportation to south Rifle, looking at how we can ready to address that. We are applying for a bus grant for this next year for the senior center. If we get that it is gong to help us look at how may it possible to provide transportation to the area.
We need to keep improving on our streets, we have a couple project in the works. We are going to be making improvement on Railroad Avenue from First to Fourth Street. We are also going to be looking at the whole downtown area as far as parking and infrastructure in the downtown corridor. I also think we need to strengthen our relationships with the county and surrounding communities.
Green: To continue to build an organization and community ready for future challenges, I believe we need to focus on the following, strategic planning, new merit pay system, infrastructure improvements, City Hall, streets, waste treatment, affordable employee housing, fee incentives, coalition, and money resources.
Hostettler: Always infrastructure. I feel like it is the councils job to make sure that we have good streets to drive on and adequate water and sewer for all our citizens. We also need to upgrade our City Hall building.
Mendizabal: I’d love to see Rifle become a stronger and more united community. I believe communication and involvement is key. Rifle needs strong leaders who are willing to put people first by giving them the tools and information to improve their quality of life. We have various goals and dreams but without the tools we cannot succeed.
Strengthening the community will automatically build a better city where we can all live happier. Rifle has over 40% Hispanic population, and I believe we also need to improve our communication and involvement with the Hispanic community.
Wood: I would like Rifle to continue to take advantage of the enormous economic opportunities we have related to our outdoor recreational amenities. I would also like to see beautification improvements at the entrances to the city gateways and neighborhoods as well as the I-70 exits to push people downtown and North.
Condie: As a City Council member, I will focus on unity within the City Council so we can address the diverse needs of the citizens of Rifle. I know we have no control over the national state of politics and the divisiveness it perpetuates. However, we all have the ability to live in a community that transcends this distasteful national trend and respects all aspects of one’s ethnicity, gender, religious affiliation, religion-free status, political affiliation, choice of recreational activities and economic status to treat each person with respect and dignity in this place we all call home.
Doose: My focus would be to listen and learn the details of city government. My background and experience will be beneficial to the city of Rifle. I am looking forward to work with the many talented and passionate people Rifle,
Elliott: Mainly I want to step back and make sure we are addressing our streets and sidewalks. I would look at our transportation issues, and reach out to neighboring communities and the whole county, plan some workshops and see how we can address a detox or mental health center.
Green: I have always stated that there are two essential functions that Councilors must address. One is to listen to residents, fellow councilors, city management, employees, and other stakeholders. It seems obvious, but is often overlooked. Second, this job is not about politics or jockeying for position, while using the seat of councilor for one’s own purposes. Rather, well over 90% of all decisions are simply about making good business decisions for our community. I believe my experience as a senior level manager has equipped me to help council formulate and then execute sound business decisions.
Hostettler: Once again infrastructure will be my primary focus but there are several other things I am looking forward to working on in the future if the economy allows it. Including finishing some of our park projects, and starting to come up with a plan for some improvements down by the river.
Mendizabal: Small business — support and provide tools and guidance to promote new businesses in Rifle and assist the businesses that are already here. Encourage a healthy and more active lifestyle. Promote tourism.
Wood: Rifle has untapped LatinX and youth populations that are not equitably represented or at decision making tables. I would would like to focus my efforts on improving this representation at the community level. I would also like to focus on the quality of life within the city, specifically through healthy food access, transportation, and improving walking and biking infrastructures.
At the candidate forum, the growth of the City of Rifle was talked about at length. If elected, what steps would you take to continue the growth of Rifle, and what kind of new businesses would you like to see recruited to the area?
Condie: I feel the growth of the city falls into two main categories, namely city services and economic generation. The city’s main purpose is to ensure that as the population grows there is affordable housing and services available to meet the demand. Services include the traditional utilities, roads, safety, recreational activities. It also encompasses protection of natural spaces, preservation of buildings and places of historical interest and sufficient place for the conduct of commerce in the city. The economic generation needs to focus on preserving the businesses we now enjoy in addition to attracting new commerce to the area. A thorough economic self-sustainability plan would serve our interest well as it will identify our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to economic sustainability. The old saying holds true, “Be careful what you wish for, you may just get it.” An unbridled business growth plan may be very successful while it takes the city’s residents to an undesirable destination. Let us focus not only on what we aspire to be but also what we wish to preserve.
Doose: Rifle is lucky to have such a diverse economy. I see many changes coming to Colorado, every community will have to manage change or struggle in the future.
Elliott: My real focus on City Council is to make Rifle what it has been for me. It has been my home, and I want people to have a home. I think we need to be able ready to position ourselves for growth because it is going to happen no matter what we do. I think we are going to get a lot of relief in the job market as the hospital, the college and the airport grows, that’s going to help our economy.
Green:First and foremost, our approach to economic development must focus on primary employment which is employment that will generate the sale of goods and services outside of our city and the immediate area and return income and tax revenues to the city. That kind of focus requires networking within targeted industries that we desire and the expenditure of funds to attract a specific enterprise.
Traditional economic development models suggest that you spend 80% of your time helping existing businesses grow and prosper and 20% on attracting the new “big fish.” That 80% includes all the merchants, restaurants, construction support businesses, banks, shops, dealerships, and service providers that are part of our city.
But, we also need to remember that one of our existing industries is still oil and gas and we need to be prepared as a community to accommodate the next “boom cycle,” whether it is the proposed liquefied natural gas initiative known as Jordan Cove or some other equally impactful development
Hostettler: I like the way that Rifle has been growing the last five years or so. I feel like we are growing the right way. We are continuing to fill in the subdivisions that already have infrastructure slowly but surely. No matter what businesses come in, ideally it would be nice to continue this slow and steady growth.
Mendizabal: I would like to focus on bringing more revenue to the community by promoting tourism. Tourism will open doors to new business ideas and contribute growth to the current businesses. Assist current business owners by providing more information, tools and resources to help them be more successful.
Wood: If elected, I would like to maintain the small town values of the community. I would like to see healthy restaurant options come to the area, an expansion of businesses that support the aging population, and amenities that invest in families and those looking to move to a small town. Partnerships and connecting with unique businesses would be a strategy I would use with council members, staff and other partners to explore the options above.
What projects and community events do you think are important for the City of Rifle to invest in the future?
Condie: New infrastructure projects for the city will include essential service items to maintain and preserve what we have. New project ideas in the city will come from investors and contractors. It would be beneficial if the City Council could set up public work sessions with contractors to see their perspective on potential new projects as well as how we can streamline our construction permitting process.
As for community events, these are just as important for the morale and welfare of the residents of Rifle as basic city services. “What do you do for fun around here?” can make or break a person’s impression of our community. Anyone that thinks back on great experiences throughout their life will inevitably have a positive feeling about the place it occurred. Swimming lessons as a child, organized sports, camping trips, fishing, hunting, hiking, cycling, rafting, boating, skiing, year round off road excursions, fair & events, farmers market bringing home fresh produce, all bring back great memories and are available right here. Additionally, let us preserve our intangible culture, a friendly and courteous people, a safe environment, clean air and a unique history in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.
Doose: The Garfield County Rodeo is a massive event for Rifle every year. Garfield County works with Rifle and has grown this event for many years in a row. Climbing in and around Rifle (Rifle Falls Area) has potential to be a new source of income for the Rifle community.
Elliott: The big one is the improvements to the downtown, we are going to look at improving Railroad Avenue as far as parking and traffic flow. Just had our first meeting this week with some of the businesses on how it might look. That’s really our next big project taking up a lot of next year. I’m excited to see that, its going to last for possibly the next 50 years. Right now we have had a lot of success with Hometown Holidays and want to continue branding the event looking at Rifle as our home.
Green: Without a doubt, the county fair is an important part of our city heritage and deserves our continued support. This year, the fair drew great crowds helped by its headliner, Trace Adkins. The city needs to continue to support this event in whatever way we can.
As the former county manager, the question I am most often asked is “Whatever happened to the air show?” To be honest, I don’t know since I was in Florida when that happened. I have heard that it was too expensive and too dependent on good weather to be a success. What I do know is that it drew over 28,000 people in a day and a half and was quickly becoming a signature event for this area and it helped showcase one of the county’s greatest assets. I think there is a lot of concern that having the air show grow in prominence would result in diminished importance of the county fair.
I don’t believe that needs to be the case. I think the air show could be subsumed into the 10-day county fair and become an integral part that adds excitement, national history and patriotism to the total fair experience. It could also be used to bundle tickets for individuals and families and might result in significant increases in fair event attendance and revenues.
Hostettler: We need to continue with the strategic plan that we have in place now which includes starting to invest around the river and continue to improve our down town area. This is a very exciting time for our city, over the past 10 to 15 years we have built a new O and M building, new water treatment and sewer facilities, a new parks and rec building, we are in the process now of building a great new swimming pool, we have great parks in our town that are well maintained. We are in a very good place right now and we just need to make sure we maintain what we have while also being open to new opportunities.
Mendizabal: Enhancing the recreational areas that already exist by making them more welcoming and enjoyable. Create more health fairs to help families be more educated on nutrition and how to live a more active lifestyle. Promote a united community by offering informative events to update the community about ongoing projects so that we can work together to become a stronger community.
Wood: Events and projects that truly represent the authentic voice of everyone in the community that are culturally relevant, encourage tourism, and drive local spending to support our small businesses.