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Menconi: Are you with me?

I’m Arn Menconi and I’m running for Colorado State Senate District 8 to represent you and your family. I was a two-term Eagle County Commissioner. I was the founder and Executive Director of SOS Outreach, a nationally-recognized youth leadership development organization, from 1993-2014. I am a father of two rockstar kids, ages 15 and 13. I earned my M.B.A. from the University of Denver.

Maybe you worry whether your job is secure. Maybe you’re worried about the pandemic, skyrocketing healthcare costs, about your kid’s education, school shootings, police brutality, climate change, or Donald Trump who makes all of these worse. Or all of the above. If so, we have a lot in common.

I understand many of you are cynical about politicians. Rightly so. But as a progressive, I have never been a conventional politician; conventional party politicians are failing us. This is no time for business as usual. This is no time for conventional politicians. We are running out of time on a whole range of issues.

I’m tired of listening to climate deniers and delayers and I bet you are too. We live in the most beautiful place on earth because it fuels us. We live here because we know how important the environment is and we want to preserve it.

Already, I’ve won two hard fought races for County Commissioner. I have a record of passing landmark legislation for rural and resort Colorado by building and creating nearly a thousand units of affordable housing, expanding over ten-thousand acres of open space, funding early childcare programs and facilities, expanding mental health and addiction services and stopping Denver from stealing our water.

Candidates and politicians have lost touch since I got elected in 2000. They don’t know how to relate to the problems of the people and translate it into getting laws passed. A lawmaker’s job is to write laws to outlaw the problems and criminals. That’s what I plan to do as a State Senator.

It’s not acceptable that people feel the need to march in the streets all over the world because of injustice and modern day lynchings. It’s not acceptable to have our children afraid to go to school, wondering if they will be gunned down. And it’s not acceptable that my daughter of 15 says she’ll never have kids because of the world she’s growing up in today.

If you are a registered Democrat or an unaffiliate who’s sick and tired of being sick and tired, then I would like to earn your vote. If you are someone who’s fighting for their children’s future or someone who’s lost their job, then I would like to earn your vote, because we have so much in common.

I live in Carbondale, but I’ve been creating programs at 30 ski resorts like Ski Sunlight since the mid-90s. SOS Outreach, formerly the Snowboard Outreach Society, has worked with families in need of after-school programs for more than 25 years. I started teaching snowboarding in 1992 and wanted to bring the mountain to the kids who couldn’t afford it.

That same passion and commitment that drove me to start a charity for kids to get to the top of a mountain drives me today to flip Senate District 8 blue.

It’s become clear to me, and many Coloradans, that we lack leadership, and leaders speak truth to power. Leaders emerge during difficult times. This newspaper gave me 750 words to tell my story. My story is your story. I’m a fighter. I have hope. I believe in people working together for a better future for our children.

I have a broad base of support which is needed to win back District 8. I’m honored to be endorsed by environmental groups and elected officials such as a Summit County Commissioner and School Board President, a Grand County Mayor, Routt County City Councilwoman and State Representative.

Presidents and CEOs of the Ski Areas and manufactures, served on the board of my charity for decades, working shoulder to shoulder with me on youth leadership programs. Deans from Ivy League schools were board members too, believing SOS was one of the most effective afterschool programs in the country.

If you vote for me, you will be voting for someone who never gives up and who won’t let you down. I promise. Let’s all fight the good fight, as they say, and get back to equality and justice for all. Are you with me?

Arn Menconi is a former Eagle County commissioner. Menconi is a candidate for Senate District 8 in the Democratic primary running against Karl Hanlon of Carbondale. The deadline to vote is June 30.

Hanlon: It’s time we focus on rural Colorado

To begin, I want to thank every single person reading this for what you are doing to protect yourself, your families, and our communities as we all face a new normal that changes every day. I have the privilege to work with communities all over the Western Slope, and I know firsthand that in our rural communities, it has fallen heavily on each of us as individuals, business owners and local governments to find ways to help each other.

In early March when I decided to run for Senate District 8, the issues I believed were most pressing and that drove my decision to run were climate change, health care, affordable housing and protection of our public lands. Those early days of March seem to be a very long time ago now. The arrival of a global pandemic in Colorado changed everything. Every day brings new challenges. While those four issues remain at the center of my long-term legislative goals, the focus right now must be on keeping people safe and getting Coloradans back to work.

Many of our rural communities and businesses are on the brink, facing massive losses in revenue from tourism, ag and natural resources. A big question on the Western Slope is, where is the help for my community? Even while facing layoffs, furloughs and plummeting revenue, communities like Glenwood Springs, Silverthorne, Breckenridge, Frisco and many more are putting in place business grants, funding housing stipends for residents, and supporting nonprofits to help their citizens weather the storm. Counties are also stepping up to provide rent assistance, grants, and other support.

At the federal level, funding to help smaller communities was included in the most recent stimulus package in the amount of $150 billion to be directed to each state based on population. Colorado’s allocation is $1.7 billion. Gov. Jared Polis recent executive order laid out the distribution of these funds. $500 million is going to education and $275 million of it shall “remain available” for local governments that did not receive direct funding in the CARES Act for the purpose of facilitating compliance with COVID-19-related public health measures.

While this is a start, to be blunt, it is not enough. Not enough to make sure critical services continue, not enough to make sure our K-12 students get a great education, and not enough to fill the three-billion-dollar budget shortfall the State is facing. What we need in our State Senator is not someone rooted in the past, beholden to special interests and blind to creative solutions from tax reform to economic development. What we need is someone with deep roots in this District, real experience on the ground and the vision to see that the crisis we face today will not be solved by looking back, but instead by looking forward.

I have spent a lifetime working hard both in and for the Western Slope. I would be honored to represent you at the Capitol so that rural Colorado has the voice we need right now and for generations to come. It is vital that we are heard.

Karl Hanlon is a municipal and water attorney working on COVID-19 response for Western Slope communities. He lives in Carbondale with his wife and kids. He and his wife, Sheryl run a nonprofit to help veterans with PTSD and children with autism.

Hanlon is a candidate for Senate District 8 in the Democratic primary running against Arn Menconi of Eagle County. The deadline to vote is June 30.

Letter: Another student for Willman

Today I would like to tell our community about my mock trial coach and my City Council candidate, Charlie Willman.

This spring, I asked Charlie if I could interview him about his candidacy for a paper. When listening to his goals for Glenwood and Ward 3, all I could think was “Right. On. Point.” His support to fix our streets, his plan to renew Sixth street, and his hopes to create affordable housing are all on point for what our community needs. 

I believe Charlie also hit one of the most important parts of a campaign, community outreach. He plans to have neighborhood street parties where his constituents can come meet with him and voice their concerns. I feel this is the most important part of the local government as the councilors are supposed to represent you, the people. 

I personally know that Charlie will always be your advocate. Charlie is also the most qualified person for the job. He has been on the Downtown Development Authority for seven years and is currently a member of both the Financial Advisory Board and the city’s Transportation Commission while still making the time to run a nationally recognized mock trial program.

I have known Charlie for the past three years, and he has shown what it truly means to be a civil servant. You must understand that Charlie has more patience than almost any other person if he’s volunteering his time to coach highly trained argumentative teenagers. 

Even with the stigma of being a lawyer, he is one of the most loving and funniest men I know and it has been an honor to have him as a coach. 

Charlie is the advocate we need for Ward 3. I am only 17, so I won’t be able to vote for him in the upcoming election, but there is no doubt in my mind that I would check his name on the ballot. If you know Glenwood, you know Charlie Willman is the best candidate.

Linnaea Petterson

Glenwood Springs

Letter: Be respectful, please

About a week or so ago I was thinking how politely political our citizens of Glenwood Springs were — we have two three-way council races and one controversial ballot issue. 

It seemed as if citizens were engaged by attending public issues and answers, writing letters to the editor and openly discussing their points of view. It was exciting. 

And now, citizens, proposed candidates and proponents/opponents of the ballot issue are in a street fight of sorts.

I’m not writing to get into the game of verbal assaults but to simply say — are you really thinking about the good of the town or your ego(s)? Let everyone get their facts straight before speaking. If you have a “plan” to help Glenwood then state it, share it. 

And lastly, you don’t have to agree with one another but be respectful. The preverbal Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” never goes out of style.

Suzanne Stewart

Glenwood Springs

Letter: Willman willing to put in time and effort

I am writing in support of Charlie WIllman for Ward 3 city council. As a member of Charlie’s high school mock trial team, I have witnessed his complete dedication to everything with which he is involved. Charlie spends many hours a week with his mock trial team, on top of working full time. He strives for perfection and is willing to work as hard as it takes to get things done right. While Charlie is but one of many who love the city of Glenwood Springs and want what is best for its citizens, he stands out as willing to put in the time and effort needed to accomplish this goal.

Anna Carrington

Glenwood Springs

Letter: Charlie Willman — the wise choice for City Council

It was really no surprise when I opened the paper and saw that Charlie Willman was running for the Ward 3 City Council. Charlie has been involved and in service to this community for many years and in many capacities. He comes forth with a plethora of knowledge about the community he wishes to serve. He has a unique historical perception and intimate knowledge of the inner workings of Glenwood Springs. Such knowledge is invaluable and should not be overlooked. The thing I like best about Charlie is he listens. He listens with both left and right ears before coming to a qualified decision. Were I to live in Glenwood, he would be my first and most solid choice.

William H. DuBois Sr.

New Castle

Letter: Vanian is one of us

When you hear someone call a person a “politician“ it usually isn’t a compliment. I think that is because it has gotten to be in our society that politicians tend to say one thing and do another. They follow their party’s ways rather than their own, trying to just stay in office. Well that means Jennifer Vanian is not a politician. She stands up for her beliefs and listens to what others believe. And when she tackles something, she’s all in, going above and beyond most others. I’d be willing to say she has worked harder to be more informed about Glenwood’s issues than any other candidate. Talking to people in our city government, touring our facilities and reading everything she can get her hands on about the current issues. When someone is willing to put in this kind of effort, that is someone we want making completely thought-out decisions for our town. She does her homework and will be a great asset to our city council.

John Korrie,

Glenwood Springs

Letter: Even if you don’t support the tax, vote for Jim

There seems to be a big divide among voters regarding the proposed street tax, and it seems to be pushing voters to support one candidate over another. I would encourage voters to separate those two issues.

I’m a fiscal conservative generally opposed to new taxes at the federal and state level. I’m less opposed to local taxes if I support the purpose of the tax, not too high and the cost/benefit ratio is good. I often compare the question of new local taxes to family finances regarding savings for some future benefit or need like a vacation, a car, or a new roof. If we can afford the extra monthly cost and the benefit is sufficiently valuable compared to the cost, then we do it, if not, then we don’t.

Decisions such as these need to be based on factual information from informed sources. Regarding the proposed tax, it is recklessly uninformed to suggest that an extra $2 million can be found in the city’s general fund. It is unequivocally false to suggest that City Council on its own could issue a bond based on this “found” $2 million. A new bond would require another vote of the people. Besides, an extra $2 million per year does not fix our roads, we need a minimum of about $3.5 million per year for approximately 15 years. Having worked on the city’s budget for the last eight years, I can say with a high degree of certainty that there is not an extra $3.5 million per year to be “found” in the budget, every year for the next 15 years, that wouldn’t also require an equally unacceptable sacrifice of city services.

Regardless of your vote on the tax, I would strongly urge you to support Jim Ingraham for the at-large City Council seat. I’ve worked closely with Jim over the past year on the council and for many years prior to that when Jim was on the Financial Advisory Board. I’ve found Jim to be informed, dedicated, honest, reasonable and to be a person with a high level of knowledge and integrity. He is the only candidate with sufficient experience. He doesn’t have an axe to grind. His only agenda is to serve the best interests of the citizens of this community.

Michael Gamba,

Glenwood Springs

Letter: Jim and Charlie – two powerhouse candidates

I’ve had the outstanding pleasure of working alongside both Jim Ingraham and Charlie Willman for almost 1 ½ years on the Financial Advisory Board (FAB) for the city, and I can personally attest to their deep sense of community, thoughtfulness, business prowess and common sense.

Jim’s exceptional career in the world of corporate America finance is a huge benefit for FAB and especially City Council. He takes the complex, and boils it down into practical and understandable equations and prioritizes those potential next steps — all in a manner that is consistent with the hometown values of Glenwood and it’s citizenry. Jim is not afraid to take on the tough issues head-on, and make the difficult and yet “grown up” choices that must be made in the best interests of our community. His positive, yet realistic optimism is that of a statesman — even in a sometimes cynical political environment.

Charlie has given many years of service to this community, and really knows Glenwood inside and out. His dedication started as a young attorney for the city in the early ’80s serving as city attorney for four years. When it comes to understanding local issues, the history, and working with folks from all walks of life, Charlie is the man that brings perspective and a pragmatic approach for moving ahead. His selfless giving to our youth on the Mock Trial program, his visionary efforts with the Downtown Development Authority and many other local causes, has been an inspiration to all of us.

Please consider these two exceptionally qualified candidates for City Council. I can tell you that they both deeply care and are clear headed about what to do in moving Glenwood forward financially, in a practical down to earth manner. Vote “Yes” for Jim Ingraham for City Council at large, and “Yes” for Charlie Willman for City Council Ward 3.

Dan Sullivan

Glenwood Springs

Letter: Hershey has ability to find creative solutions to problems

I would like to encourage you to vote for Tony Hershey for City Council. I have lived in the valley for over 25 years, over 15 years in Glenwood Springs. I’ve known Tony for over 15 years since we started out as coworkers, and now I consider him a friend and I believe he would work diligently to improve our city. He is honest, kind, a hard worker and is really good at listening with an ability to find creative solutions to problems. I believe his skills are invaluable for the city at this time. He is against the tax on our roads and I know he will find other ways to fix our roads without passage of this tax. I would encourage you to talk to Tony and listen to his ideas and I believe you will find him to be the best candidate for the at-large position.

Judy Martin,

Glenwood Springs