Unofficial Rifle City Council election results show Bornholdt, Condie, Roberts leading

The most recent batch of unofficial results for the Rifle City Council election show Chris Bornholdt, Brian Condie and Karen Roberts leading in the polls.

As of 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 8, Bornholdt has earned 28.07% (936) of the votes, with Condie and Roberts following at 27.50% (917) and 22.55% (752) consecutively. Candidate Tanya Perea Doose follows closely behind in last place at 21.89% (730) of the vote.

Three Rifle City Council seats, all serving four-year terms, are on the ballot for this year’s city municipal elections. Three of the four candidates will walk away with a council seat at the end of the night.

“I’m happy either way … I’ll congratulate the winners. And if it’s me, we’ll start planning for next year’s strategic planning. And I would look forward to serving another four years,” Condie told the Post Independent.

“I’m happy to work with any one of them. I think anyone who gets in will be great,” Condie added, referring to the other candidates.

“I’m excited. I mean, I wouldn’t have run if I didn’t want to do it and feel that I would be a good candidate,” Roberts said. “But to me, it’s still pretty close … I just want to wait and see how the numbers play out, and then there’s just work to do.”

The city of Rifle also has Issue 2A on the ballot, also known as the street sales tax. So far, only 35.78% (594) have voted yes to the issue, with 64.22% (1,066) of residents voting against the tax.

“It looks like they’re losing the issue on the sales tax for Rifle. (I’m) a little disappointed there because I think it really, really would have been helpful,” Roberts said. “Everybody keeps complaining about the roads and wants to do something, and this would have directly gone to roads.”

Garfield County finished counting ballots and provided the last results for election night at 9:55 p.m. according to the secretary of state website. The county still has more ballots to count and will provide updated results in the coming days.

The Post Independent will update this story as more information becomes available.

Roaring Fork School District elections Q&A

The Roaring Fork School District is scheduled to add two new members to the district’s school board, following election day results.

While District D incumbent Jasmin Ramirez runs unopposed, others are battling for a chance to help shape the future of RFSD.

Candidates Alan Kokish and Betsy After will be facing one another for the District B seat. Meanwhile, Phillip Bogart and Lindsay DeFrates hope to represent the community in the District C chair.

Each candidate answered a questionnaire sent out by the Post Independent this past week. The questions include:

1. What made you want to run for the school board?

Kokish: I initially decided to run because I was very upset about the gender studies curriculum the district adopted as their K-12 sex-ed curriculum. Throughout my candidacy, I have gained perspective and respect for all the responsibility that comes with the job. The current board has worked to address teacher housing and retention, closing the learning gap between Latino and English-speaking students, and overall academic improvement. If elected I hope to build on the work of the current board.

However, there was a lack of transparency and community engagement in the adoption of the gender studies sex ed curriculum. Sixty percent of parent survey responses were against it, and most people are still unaware of the controversial material about to be taught to our very young children. I want to work to bring increased transparency and communication to controversial issues like this one.

Finally, school boards are increasingly being politically targeted and influenced. As a registered independent and small-business owner, I will bring a working-class perspective to the Board and representation to those who feel underrepresented. This needs to be done with respect for our entire community.

After: My children have had a wonderful experience in the RFSD schools and because of that I want to help the District effectively move into its next chapter. I have experience in policy, governance, stakeholder engagement, and financial management. I believe I can put my qualifications to work in service of our public schools.
After said her priorities for the school district are:

  1. Responsible, transparent leadership & smart fiscal management: Set an expectation of excellence and accountability for the executive staff and ensure that the annual budget aligns with our community priorities.
  2. Support educators: Increasing teacher retention through creative measures that go beyond the 2021 Mill Levy Override.
  3. Success for all students: Tackle the persistent achievement gap between Latino and white students.
  4. Open communication & deep community engagement: Improve the Board’s relationship with the community so that we can work together toward solutions that help students thrive.

DeFrates: I love our public schools, our students, and the teachers and staff who put their heart and energy every day into teaching and building safe, welcoming, and academically rigorous classrooms.

After spending six years teaching middle school in Carbondale, I know first hand how important it is to have the right facilities, curriculum and support in the classroom. Our students deserve rigorous expectations and the equity in resources to achieve them. That means making sure that all students have what they need, when they need it. It also means having experienced education professionals who can afford to live and work in the same community. I also believe we need to strengthen the trust and relationship between the Roaring Fork Valley community and the School Board and District leadership.

I decided to run because I know that we have a lot of work to do to make sure that our schools continue to grow and thrive, and I believe I have the skills and experience to serve my community in this way.

Bogart: I have four kids in the Roaring Fork School district, and they are my primary motivation for running. I was also very disappointed with how the 3Rs sex-d curriculum was adopted by the current school board. It showed a lack of transparency, no concern for the majority opinion of our community, and a lack of honest research to understand if this is the best curriculum. I am also concerned at our district’s below-average standardized test results within the state.

Ramirez: I am seeking re-election because I believe that I have the necessary knowledge and skills to contribute towards building a better future for our students. I am committed to using my experience and expertise to ensure that every student in our district receives a high-quality education that will prepare them for a successful future. As a mother of a child on the Autism Spectrum, I’m also passionate about ensuring all students and families have the best possible experience in our schools.

2. Tell us about your background

Kokish: I was raised in the 1970s and 80s in a multi-racial family in Northern California in a semi-communal environment. We gardened, recycled, composted, and practiced conservation because it was the right thing to do. I moved to Aspen in 1992 with simple dreams. I have fulfilled them all and so much more. I went from breakfast cook to burger flipper, to bartender, to line cook, to executive chef, to business owner. I’ve married and raised two kids; my daughter is a sophomore at Roaring Fork High School and my son is a freshman in college. Along the way, I fell in love with the Roaring Fork Valley and Colorado. The School District sets the tone for the Valley, educating tomorrow’s citizens and leaders. We should embrace Colorado’s uniqueness. Our policies should not emulate Texas, Florida, or California.

After: I live in Carbondale with my husband, Brion, and two young children who attend Crystal River Elementary School. I am a nonprofit leader, policy-wonk, librarian-by-training, and a fundraiser at RMI (formerly Rocky Mountain Institute). I previously served as the President of the Mount Sopris Montessori Preschool Board and while there, I led the search and hiring of a new executive director. I was also previously on the Board at the Basalt Regional Library District. My family owns Independence Run & Hike and I have lived in the Valley since 2008. Originally from Cullowhee, North Carolina, I have my Masters Degree in Library Science and a Bachelor’s Degree in Comparative Literature from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

DeFrates: I have lived in and around the Roaring Fork Valley for 18 years, and my husband and I are currently raising three kids here, all of whom attend Sopris Elementary School. For six years, I taught seventh- and eighth-grade language arts at Carbondale Middle School. Currently, I work as the Deputy Director of Public Relations at the Colorado River District, but like so many of us, I have spent time working in a variety of industries just to make ends meet in our weird little corner of the world. This means that I have been a camp counselor, a whitewater raft guide, a server at a local restaurant, an Outward Bound instructor, Youth Coordinator with Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers, a freelance writer, and an adjunct instructor for Colorado Mountain College’s adult education classes and Link to Success program.

Bogart: I have had a career in the hotel, restaurant and rental management industry for about 20 years. My wife and I have also been foster parents for the past 7-8 years, in two different states. In my career, I have had the opportunity to lead diverse teams of people, write and manage budgets, and work with owners to approve and fund capital improvement projects.

Ramirez: I am the proud daughter and wife of immigrants. I graduated from GSHS in 2007 and have two children, three younger siblings, one niece, and three nephews, who have attended or are attending our public schools. In my professional role, I work for School Board Partners, a national organization that provides training and support to school board members to equip them with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to lead with courage, competence and impact.

3. What is something that you want the community to know about you?

Kokish: I object to the current sex education/gender studies curriculum because it introduces concepts that I think are best introduced at home and it introduces them far too early. Because of that, I’ve been accused of being illiberal. Nothing could be further from the truth. My family and my circle of friends are filled with gay people, trans people, and people of color. One of my cousins began hormone treatment as a teenager. It did not bring them the happiness they expected. A close friend of mine’s trans daughter Erin recently committed suicide. The pain in his eyes is something no parent should have to face. My friend sees this curriculum as a beacon to our LGBTQ+ community. Our conversation led me to examine my opposition to this curriculum. As a district, we need a beacon to shine brightly. We need a curriculum and mental health structure that can support people like Erin, this curriculum is not it. I’m aware of how difficult life in our country can be for minorities. Whether I’m elected or not I will do what I can to help mitigate these kinds of tragedies. I do have strong opinions and I can be emotional. However, I pride myself on seeking out opinions differing from my own. I work to improve myself by engaging and learning from people.

After: Over the last few months, I have spoken to parents, teachers, staff, and community members about their concerns about our schools. Interestingly, there is not one single issue that comes up more than others. There are dozens of issues that people care about when it comes to our schools. These include: teacher retention and recruitment, executive leadership, the achievement gap, the annual budget, the upcoming Collaborative Bargaining Process with the teacher’s union, housing, special education, a safe haven policy, dual language curricula, the health curriculum, the absence policy, career and college readiness, universal Pre-K, and the strategic planning process, among many others. I have the experience, curiosity, patience, and persistence to help the District work on all of these issues, and more. I hope that voters will ask themselves which candidates are adept and ready to work together toward making our schools tackle the many challenges and opportunities that RFSD faces every day. Without doing so, we will not be able to prepare students to thrive in a changing world. With so much at stake, this is an exciting time to be part of the RFSD and I hope that voters will give me an opportunity to help lead!

DeFrates: I grew up in the suburbs of Virginia and my grandmother worked on the planning and zoning commission there for over 20 years there. Sometimes, my parents forced me to go to the meetings as a child and at the time, I considered it cruel and unusual punishment. But her tenure there coincided with the difficult transition of much of that county from agricultural land to business and housing developments as the population in central Virginia boomed. I know that it was hard for her to watch her childhood home change so much. She could have stuck her head in the sand and pretended like the change wasn’t inevitable and refused to participate, but she didn’t.

She showed up for every difficult conversation and insisted that developers adhere to a rigorous, intensive process that retained as much greenspace and included thorough and sensible plans for things like drainage and traffic flow. And because she kept showing up for those meetings, and kept engaging with the process, the change that occurred was positive and sustainable. I never thought I’d sign myself for those kinds of meetings, but I know now that community service is persistent, patient, and keeps the door open for the voices and perspectives which they may not always agree with.

Bogart: One of my main goals at this point in life is to be a faithful father and community member. If I am elected to be on the school board, I am committed to doing whatever I can to help improve our district’s ability to provide quality education.

Ramirez: I believe in equity, equality, justice, inclusion, access, and building communities centered around students, whom I consider our most important stakeholders. I firmly believe that by holding ourselves accountable for our student’s success in our schools, we can make a long-term impact on the future citizens and economy of our communities.

4. If elected, what is something that you are most focused on to help improve the school district?

Kokish: Entrepreneurial and vocational training will be an area of focus for me. College is enormously expensive and offers increasingly limited career paths. Equity means that those students who want to continue their education after high school have opportunities to do so, and those who want to enter the job market have opportunities to do so. If elected I’ll work to expand those opportunities for all students, college-bound or not. With the recent resignation of Dr. Rodriguez, we must start the search for a superintendent who desires to become (or already is) part of our community; a non-partisan educator who can effectively address the difficult tasks at hand.

After: With last week’s resignation by Dr. Rodriguez, the Board’s top responsibility will be to recruit and hire an excellent leader for the District. The District, the Board, and the community learned a lot about what we want to see in a leader during the last superintendent search and tenure. The District now has the collective experience and wisdom to select a long-lasting leader who focuses on the needs of the students, educators, and the community.

DeFrates: We need to hire a Superintendent who represents and loves this community and whose leadership vision and experience aligns with the values of this District. There is a lot of ground to make up between the board and the community in this area, and I will prioritize transparent communication throughout the search and hiring process.
In 2021, voters in the Roaring Fork School District generously approved a measure to increase teacher pay. Unfortunately, within less than two years, soaring rates of inflation and skyrocketing home and rent prices undermined the value of those pay increases, leaving the professionals who teach our children still struggling to afford to live and work in the same community.

I am committed to doing whatever it takes to make sure our District’s resources are going to support teachers and staff so that we can hire and retain experienced professionals.

Along with qualified leadership and teacher retention, we need to take direct and immediate measures to close the achievement gap between Latino and White students.

Bogart: If elected, I will focus on quality education for our kids, repeal of the 3Rs sex ed curriculum with the intention of finding something better, and enhancing school board transparency.

Ramirez: I plan to continue advocating for a third party to conduct an equity assessment as well as for the board to pass an equity policy. I am committed to prioritizing student success and solidifying our new Superintendent Evaluation Process as policy.

5. The human sexuality curriculum has been a major topic throughout the district since its adoption by the school board. Where do you stand in favor or opposition of the curriculum?

Kokish: The recently adopted sex-ed curriculum is largely a politically motivated gender studies program. The concept of gender is evolving. As adults, we are still figuring out how this discussion should take place. To affirmatively suggest to a first-grade boy that he may be a girl born with the wrong body parts or vice versa is very confusing, and most particularly so when done in school without parental involvement. This curriculum is well-intended, and I’m aware of the problems the district is trying to address. But it is untested with no data to support its good intent. Does the Roaring Fork Valley want to be a testing ground for introducing gender studies to our five, six and seven-year-olds?  Kindergarteners should be deciding what mud puddle to play in or whether they want grape or strawberry jelly on their sandwich; not what gender they might be. If elected I will work to adopt an inclusive, diverse, age-sensitive, and accepting approach that our entire community will be more able to embrace.

After: I support the health curriculum that was approved unanimously by the current board. I support it because it provides health instruction in the early years using correct anatomical terminology. This knowledge will help children distinguish between safe and unsafe behavior. I also appreciate that the curriculum is available in Spanish, it supports LGBT and gender non-conforming students, and it was recommended by a committee of subject matter and education experts. 

DeFrates: The Comprehensive Human Sexuality Curriculum was chosen by a group of teachers, parents and community members after an extensive curriculum search and evaluation, and it was adopted by the school District last winter. The materials and content in this curriculum are scientifically accurate and align with state mandates requiring that no curriculum discriminate against any gender identity or sexual orientation. Research shows us that comprehensive sexual education is an essential part of reducing unwanted pregnancies and STIs. Inclusive language and honest conversation about gender identity and sexual orientation is also a part of supporting the mental health of our students.

Bogart: The 3 Rs’ Roaring Fork School District elections Q/Acurriculum covers inappropriate and confusing topics in early elementary grade levels, the content at many age levels is far too graphic and pornographic, and the curriculum tends to undermine parent input and family values. This curriculum is sexualizing kids and pushing a hyper-liberal political agenda that has no place in our public schools. 

Ramirez: I support the newly adopted curriculum. I believe the district should have a uniform district-wide sex-ed curriculum taught by trained professionals as well as a clear and updated opt-out regulation and process in place to ensure parents have the final say on this matter.

Q&A with Rifle City Council candidates

Three Rifle City Council seats will be up election on Nov. 7. All three councilor positions will serve four-year terms.

Among the candidates are incumbents Brian Condie and Chris Bornholdt, and challengers Tanya Perea Doose and Karen Roberts.

In October, the Colorado River Valley Chamber of Commerce hosted a Q&A session with the city council candidates, where topics such as affordable housing, Rifle’s efforts to preserve the vibrancy of the downtown area, crime management and a proposed sales tax increase were discussed. A detailed story on the candidate’s responses during the Q&A session can be found online at

The Post Independent emailed out a short questionnaire to all four Rifle City Council candidates last week. Here are their written responses:

Do you support Proposition HH? Why or why not?

Condie: After a review of Prop HH I determined I would not support it. I found it contained promises that upfront seamed beneficial to Coloradans at the expense of government accountability.

Brian Condie

Perea Doose: Proposition HH is a complex proposal to modify or reduce taxes and exemptions on multiple property types eliminating TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights). Sounds great, however, this is a short-term relief specific to property owners. Disproportionately, this does not support Colorado renters as they will not get any benefits from TABOR as they had in years past. Passing it will eliminate thousands of dollars in state tax refunds which DOES NOT support renters that are a large part of our community in need. This impact is yet another systemic barrier for those in our community that rely on these tax refunds each year and equally to all of us who are taxpayers. It will allow the state to spend approximately $9 billion, without stipulations, instead of it going back to taxpayers. This is a money grab for the state to backfill budgetary shortfalls with programs and is not a viable long term solution. The ripple effect will lead to increased costs and taxes elsewhere, which will be passed on to our communities. It’s a cyclical cycle and this is a short-term solution that will lead to bigger problems with affordability in housing and other needs.

Roberts: I do not support Proposition HH due to the poor, unclear and confusing wording of the proposition itself. I read and reread this several times and although I am familiar with such documents I was still not totally comprehending what exactly I was voting for or against. I feel we, the public, deserve better-written documents in order to know where we actually stand on an issue or a proposition.

Which issue do you think impacts Rifle citizens the most, and how are you going to contribute to the solution?

Condie: The chaos in the world, nation and state seem to be the main topic of discussion I hear from our citizens today. While we have no direct control over these issues, we can focus on preserving our Western Colorado values of living peacefully with each other in our small part of the world. I will continue to promote unity and acceptance for everyone living in our city.

Perea Doose: As a citizen, I know that there are many issues that impact Rifle. I believe listening and understanding the issues we face as a community will drive collaboration for opportunities to create solutions. If elected councilwoman, my intention would be to first learn, listen, understand and follow the Rifle Strategic Plan that is outlined on the City’s website. Within this plan is the word “inclusivity,” which has become a popular buzzword in our world. As a Latina raised in a bilingual household, I understand deeply what it is to be excluded and being inclusive is inherent to the fabric of who I am. Inclusive is not exclusive, we are all equal. With our city being largely made up of Latinos and Hispanos, my voice will be a direct representation of our minority community and those facing barriers. My goal will be to engage our entire community as a bridge to fill any gaps by bringing cultures, languages, communities, education, entrepreneurship, small business, shared experiences and commonalities all together to strengthen the fabric of our community and be a voice of representation of all.

Tanya Perea Doose

Roberts: Right now Rifle and the surrounding area’s biggest problem is housing. The best way that I might impact this is to do research and network with other similarly sized municipalities and see how they are working on this issue. I believe working on areas such as fee reductions through our building process and other concessions would encourage builders to build in Rifle. And although the free market for builders is difficult pricing, we could also encourage attainable housing. Attainable (vs affordable) meaning 33% of a person’s income to be used for housing. Right now the median income in Garfield County is $77,000.00. Affordable always sounds good but actual affordable housing per codes etc. comes with so many limitations and rules that have to be adhered to in order to buy or even rent that it is not always a good answer.

If you were elected into office, what would be your first priority?

Condie: I will congratulate the newly elected officials and then, if elected, prepare with the entire city council and city staff for the February strategic planning meetings buy making sure we are up to date on the issues facing the city; employee wellbeing, infrastructure and housing needs.

Perea Doose: If elected, I will be considered a rookie — no experience. We have two incumbent councilmen and another candidate that is on Planning & Zoning for the city. I believe I will bring a fresh perspective as an 18-year citizen of Rifle on what the true needs are of our community. Priorities for me would include a lot of listening, learning, reading, and understanding of what the council is working on and then incorporating what the true voices of our community needs are. Council work focuses on transportation, sewage, water, roads, infrastructure, and the city employees — which are all priorities. However, it will be in contrast to what the needs are of our community. Part of my priority will be listening to the needs of our community.

Roberts: At this time my priority would be to work on the housing issue and also to better acquaint myself with the City of Rifle budget. If we can streamline the budget there may be a way to increase salaries for city employees which includes our police department so we can hire, retain and increase the number of our peace officers. I would love to work with our economic development folks to find new ways for businesses to start in Rifle. Businesses we all want and need; homegrown businesses by local people.

What would your unique experiences and skill sets contribute to the city of Rifle? Why should residents vote for you?

Condie: I appreciate the unity of our diverse community and have a desire to preserve it. I think this should be the main qualification of any person running for public office. I wish to preserve and improve our collective unity and reject the bipartisan divide that seems to be infecting our nation and state.

Perea Doose: I am a third generation Coloradan and have lived in the Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valley for over 25 years, I grew up here. I see the vast change of our city landscape over the past 10-15 years with the growth, and often decline, of jobs, tourism, housing, farming, ranching and agriculture. Our city has had significant growth and with growth comes many different wants and needs. I am a thoughtful leader who will use my authentic voice to advocate for what is needed to make our community stronger. My strength is in supporting and advocating for growth in entrepreneurship and small business that drives increases in tax revenue that supports Rifle as a whole. Part of my focus will be bringing together our cultural diversity to support our community as a whole, fortifying our community to be a place of prosperity and a home for ALL who live in Rifle.

Roberts: My background has been in finance, contracts and procurement. I am comfortable and familiar with working on multimillion-dollar budgets and their process. I feel I will be an asset with these skills to help form and execute a better city budget and analyze the bid process the city uses. I currently write grants for small nonprofits and serve on the city planning commission which helps to give me a different perspective of how things function within the city government. I also feel I am a people person who likes to listen and then respond with action.

Councilor Chris Bornholdt did not reply to the Post Independent’s request to participate in the questionnaire.

Garfield County fire district presents resolution in opposition to Proposition HH

The Colorado River Fire Rescue district has taken a public stance in opposition to Proposition HH.

During their Oct. 10 meeting, the district board of directors presented a resolution in opposition to the state proposition.

The resolution, titled “Resolution of the Colorado River Fire Protection District in Opposition to the Statewide Proposal, Proposition HH,” passed unanimously.

“Overall, the department understands the reduction in taxes and why people want to do that, and we support overall reduction in property taxes,” CRFR Chief Leif Sackett said. “Part of the reason that we did the opposition to Proposition HH is we feel strongly about keeping the property taxes local instead of going back to the state, like Proposition HH does with TABOR … If Proposition HH passes, then the state has the ability to get into the TABOR refunds.”

Sackett said that outside of keeping property taxes local, Prop HH would also negatively impact the fire department’s budget anywhere from $550,000 to $650,000.

Additionally, special districts like the CRFR are more dependent on property tax revenue than any other type of local government, according to the resolution.

“When you look at how the ballot question is written, you think, ‘Oh, yeah, we do want to reduce property taxes,'” Sackett said. “But when you really get into the nuts and bolts of it, you know, it all just depends on how educated people are. We suggest people look at the blue book so they can make an educated decision.”

Some of reasons for their opposition cited in the resolution include the following:

  • An 18% increase in inflation from 2020 to 2023 did not result in any financial benefit to special districts from increased sales tax. Instead, they were required to use tax receipts to offset the increased costs of labor, materials and services.
  • Special districts actively responded to demands of the COVID-19 pandemic without any federal relief funds.
  • The proposition’s reductions in local property taxes will result in billions of dollars of lost revenue for local governments, and it will allow the state to spend billions of dollars more than before.
  • “Proposition HH undermines the short- and long-range planning efforts of Colorado’s special districts” that are necessary for things like inflationary pressures, service costs and compensation for employees.

The resolution ends with four main statements from the district. The first states that it is the position of the CRFR board and other special districts to determine the revenues necessary to meet demands of the community. The second states that special districts are accountable to their local voters, “who may take action if the taxes they pay are not warranted for the services, facilities, and infrastructure provided by special districts in their communities.”

The last two points highlight the loss of funding the department would face, as well as the diminishing ability to provide vital emergency services, upgrade equipment and plan for future facility improvements.

“Therefore, the Board strongly urges a NO vote on Proposition HH at the statewide election on November 7, 2023,” the resolution states.

The resolution was adopted on Oct. 10, though two of the five board members approved it remotely and have not been able to add their signatures to the document.

Rifle City Council candidates discuss housing, downtown development, sales tax in election Q&A

Affordable housing, Rifle’s efforts to preserve the vibrancy of the downtown area, crime management, and a proposed sales tax increase were among the topics discussed by Rifle City Council candidates at a Q&A this week.

Candidates participated in a Q&A hosted by the Colorado River Valley Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, ahead of this year’s city municipal elections.

The candidates present at the event were incumbent Brian Condie and challengers Tanya Perea Doose and Karen Roberts, the last of which joined the event virtually. Councilor Chris Bornholdt, also up for re-election, was unable to attend because of his responsibilities managing the Morrisania Mesa fire near Parachute.

When it comes to the topic of housing, all three candidates echoed a similar sentiment: there is no such thing as a single solution.

“[This is] a three-minute response to a four-hour question,” Condie said, before showing the crowd an image on his cellphone from a 1960 protest in Rifle demanding affordable housing. “We will do what we can do to help the residents, especially those that work in Rifle, to be able to live in Rifle.”

Condie shared that his vision is to keep the current ratios of single-family homes to multifamily homes and apartments, but that a large focus on workforce housing is required to succeed in an open market that “is just going to increase the price.”

Roberts, the second to respond, mentioned working with local developers as a possible solution. Tax incentives and fee reductions could motivate local developers not only to build in Rifle, but to stay in Rifle.

“I myself and a lot of you know how it feels to work up-valley all day and then come home, so we want affordable and comfortable homes to come to,” Roberts said. “We don’t have enough homes for the people that live here now so we have to continue to work with people who are going to build those homes.”

Perea Doose’s response to the question of affordable and attainable housing involved more collaboration from residents themselves.

“I look at this like a recipe, it’s like baking bread. We don’t really have to reinvent this recipe, we can look at what other communities are doing locally to solve this problem,” Perea Doose said. “I envision that we could create a housing solutions committee or task force that represents our diverse community needs first and foremost.”

Perea Doose emphasized the importance of recruiting developers to partner with the city, as well as the possibility of liquidating properties to increase funding and build affordable housing developments above commercial spaces in downtown Rifle.

“If we don’t do it now, developers are going to come in and they are going to create the community that they want, not necessarily what we want, so our time to act is now,” Perea Doose said.

The question of whether downtown Rifle is healthy and vibrant as it stands also drew some varied answers.

Roberts highlighted the strides Rifle has made in making its downtown area more attractive to both residents and tourists with amenities like outdoor dining, but added that if there was one thing she could do to make it better, it would be to add better signage on the off-ramps.

“We don’t want people to think we’re just McDonald’s and Walmart, we need them to come downtown and see our cute boutiques and nice restaurants,” she said.

Perea Doose agreed with Roberts on the visual appeal of the downtown area and added the decrease in empty storefronts and more effective parking and walkability. However, she also suggested extending the city’s efforts into revitalizing areas outside of downtown Rifle.

“People really want to see history being maintained and are looking for this historic Western experience that we can provide,” Perea Doose said. “However, we could use extending this revitalization to the west side of Third Street.”

She continued by saying that the city can transform the look and feel of the area by also focusing on Railroad Avenue, which would support small businesses and create a better experience for visitors passing through Rifle.

Condie’s response emphasized the accomplishments of the downtown renovation project and the Greater Rifle Improvement Team.

“So while businesses may come and go, and they may try their hand at their trade, the (Greater Rifle) Improvement Team is doing an excellent job of focusing on Rifle,” Condie said. “We never compare ourselves to cities up-valley or even to the west, so it’s always ‘what do we want as citizens of rifle in our community?'”

All three candidates shared their approval for the increase in sales tax for Rifle residents, citing that it would help split the responsibility of rising costs between residents and visitors, all who experience the same roads and services.

The final portion of the event asked that each candidate give a reason for why voters should support them in November’s election, after which the floor was opened for audience questions.

The candidate Q&A is available to stream on the city of Rifle’s Facebook page. It will also be uploaded for on-demand viewing onto Rifle’s community access channel, available online at

There are currently three councilor seats up for election for four-year terms. The 2023 city municipal elections are Nov. 7. Voters will receive their 2023 ballot in the mail sometime mid-October, according to the city’s website.

Meet the candidates: Rifle City Council candidates to participate in public Q&A

The Colorado River Valley Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a candidate Q&A for this year’s Rifle City Council elections. 

Challenger Tanya Perea Doose, as well as incumbents Chris Bornholdt and Brian Condie, both up for re-election, will be present at the event. Challenging councilor candidate Karen Roberts is unable to attend due to a prior commitment, though the Chamber will be sharing her remote responses to the questions. 

The first part of the Q&A will be made up of questions predetermined by the Chamber, though residents in attendance will be given a chance to ask their own questions to the candidates toward the end. 

“We want to keep it as open and available as possible,” said Larry Stewart, chairman of the Colorado River Valley Chamber of Commerce board of directors. “You still want to give people the opportunity to talk to their elected officials.” 

The Q&A will take place from 6-7:30 p.m. on Oct. 3 at Rifle City Hall (202 Railroad Ave.). The event will also be broadcast live on Rifle’s community access channel, available online at or through local cable Channel 10 on Xfinity, where it will be replayed periodically. 

All three councilor seats up for election are four-year terms, though the mayor and mayor pro tempore will be appointed by the Council at an organizational meeting. 

The 2023 city municipal elections are Nov. 7. Voters will receive their 2023 ballot in the mail sometime mid-October, according to the city’s website. 

The invitation to attend the candidate Q&A is open to all Rifle residents. For more information about the event, email Chairman Larry Stewart at 

“It’s important for the local people to come out and meet (the people) making the local decisions,” Stewart said.

If you go…

What: Candidate Q&A for Rifle City Council elections

When: Tuesday, Oct. 3

Where: Rifle City Hall, 202 Railroad Ave.

How much: Free

Glenwood Springs has a new ‘madam mayor;’ Wussow appointed to succeed Godes

City Councilor Ingrid Wussow was unanimously voted in as the new mayor of Glenwood after Jonathan Godes announced on Thursday that he was “stepping back.”

Wussow will be the second female mayor ever for the city.

The last madam mayor of Glenwood Springs was Marian Smith in 1980-1981, before she went on to serve multiple terms as a Garfield County commissioner. 

Godes, who has been mayor for four years, announced he would be stepping back just hours before the Glenwood City Council meeting, via Facebook.

Glenwood Springs, per its city charter, has an appointed mayor position, as decided by the seven council members, rather than an elected mayor.

Thursday also marked the formal swearing-in of newly elected Council members Erin Zalinski to the at-large seat, replacing Tony Hershey, and Sumner Schachter to the Ward 3 seat, replacing Charlie Willman, as well as new Ward 4 Councilor Mitchell Weimer, who was uncontested in the April 4 election.

Outgoing Glenwood Springs Mayor Jonathan Godes, left, swears in newly elected Council Member Erin Zalinski at the April 20 City Council meeting, as new and reelected Councilors Sumner Schachter, Marco Dehm and Mitchell Weimer await their turn.
Cassandra Ballard/Post Independent

Ward 1 Councilor Marco Dehm, who was also formally elected in the April 4 election, was unanimously voted in by Council as the new Mayor Pro Tem. 

Wussow said she was grateful to be motioned in and voted to be mayor. She told the Post Independent outside of the public session that she plans to be fair and listen well to the residents of Glenwood.

Godes will continue the last two years of his councilor term. He said he is proud of the legacy he created and he is excited to give the mayoral power to someone new. 

Post Independent reporter Cassandra Ballard can be reached at or 970-384-9131.

Guest opinion: Make your voice heard in next month’s municipal election

You’ve remembered to spring forward, you’ve probably made spring break plans, but have you made your plan to vote?

That’s right. Voting. In the spring. Voters in Glenwood Springs have less than two weeks to return their ballots for the city’s April 4 municipal election.

Voces Unidas Action Fund earlier this month considered the candidates running in the four races who will be on the ballot, reviewed submissions from four, interviewed two and ultimately decided not to formally endorse.

However, in the Ward 3 race featuring incumbent Charlie Willman and challenger Sumner Schachter, our endorsement committee reached consensus that both candidates are aligned with our values and every policy area that we tested, including whether community resources should be used to coordinate with federal deportation efforts; improving water quality in mobile home parks; incorporating mobile-home parks into municipal boundaries; and efforts to address housing affordability, including local control and rent stabilization as well as ensuring Latinos have access to housing programs.

Wilman has worked hard to pursue solutions for the community during his four years in office and is well-positioned to continue making progress to address our affordable housing crisis and to improve participation and representation of issues facing Latinos and Latinas.

We were also impressed with Schachter’s long history of service to the community and commission work in Glenwood Springs, along with his understanding of the need to increase the voice and representation of Latinos and Latinas not just in Ward 3, but also the community as a whole.

Glenwood Springs residents would be well-served with either leader as Ward 3 council member. We recognize the different strengths that each candidate brings and look forward to working with either of them. Our committee could not agree on just one of the candidates because we liked them both.

In the race for one at-large seat on council between incumbent Tony Hershey and challenger Erin Zalinski, our endorsement committee decided not to endorse or oppose either candidate. We know that both the incumbent and the challenger share Voces Unidas Action Fund’s value of Glenwood Springs continuing to be an inclusive place for the Latino community. Even if not 100% aligned on policy, it’s important to know that we can agree on making Glenwood Springs more welcoming for all residents, not just some. Hershey and Zalinski believe this. Just as Willman and Schachter also embrace this value.

While both Ward 1 candidate Marco Dehm and Ward 4 candidate Mitchell Weimer are running unopposed, we chose not to endorse in those races because neither candidate filled out the questionnaire that helps us see where they stand on issues that are important to Latinos and Latinas in the community. We cannot — and will not — support candidates whose stances on the issues are unknown to us.

All of the other candidates answered our questionnaire, and regardless of who wins, we appreciate them putting down in writing their views and values around issues facing the Latino community.

Democracy only works when people vote. And an April election is not ideal.

Because Glenwood Springs’ municipal election is held in the spring of off years, participation will undoubtedly be low. In 2021, for example, just 1,875 ballots were cast in the election that featured a race for an at-large council seat and the council seats representing Wards 2 and 5. For comparison’s sake, nearly twice as many, 3,559 ballots, were cast for Issue 2C (lodging tax) in November of last year (The county clerk said there were 5,740 active voters in Glenwood as of last August).

Voters are conditioned to participate in elections in November. That is why, while also encouraging people to cast ballots whenever there is an election, Voces Unidas Action Fund supports moving municipal elections to the fall.

Glenwood Springs is one of the few communities in the region that still conducts its municipal election in the spring, and we would encourage officials to prioritize participation and consider joining those communities that have taken the steps necessary to move municipal elections to a time when more voters are likely to take part.

But this spring, there is an election fast approaching. At Voces Unidas Action Fund, our hope is that our endorsement process will help voters reach decisions on the candidates they support and the need to make their voices heard.

Alex Sánchez is the founder and CEO of Voces Unidas Action Fund, a Latino-created, Latino-led non-profit organization working in Summit, Lake, Eagle, Pitkin and Garfield counties.

Glenwood Springs City Council election debate later this month

A night to hear from the Glenwood Springs City Council candidates is being hosted later this month.

The Issues and Answers City Council Candidate Forum is slated for 5:30-7:30 p.m. March 20 at Glenwood Springs City Hall, 101 W. Eighth Street. 

“We hope that you will be able to participate in this educational platform that is the highlight of the election season for the entire community,” a news release from the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association states.

KMTS News Director Ron Milhorn will be the moderator. 

Candidates that are running contested will have two-minute opening and closing statements prepared. Candidates who are not contested will be given a five-minute statement. 

Then there will be questions that will come from a combination of the public and the media panel, and the candidates will be given 90 seconds for answering. 

Questions will be alternated, and the candidate who answers first will be given a one-minute rebuttal. The questions will be reviewed ahead of time to avoid redundancy, and to assure a wide variety of topics are covered, the release states. 

Although questions will be taken from the public, they will be collected ahead of time. Send suggested questions ahead of time to The deadline to submit questions is 5 p.m. March 16.

There will also be a table set up for campaign collateral, so feel free to bring items for the table, the release states. 

Candidates and format:

• Ward 1 Candidate, Marco Dehm (uncontested)

• Ward 4 Candidate, Mitchell Weimer (uncontested) 

• Ward 3 Candidates — Sumner Schachter and Charlie Willman (Incumbent) 

• At-Large Candidates — Tony Hershey (Incumbent) and Erin Zalinski

If you go…

What: Issues and Answers City Council Candidate Forum

When: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Monday, March 20

Where: Glenwood Springs City Hall, 101 W. Eighth Street

RSVP to or call 970-945-0784 by March 10.

Basalt’s new council members outline their biggest issues

Tuesday was slated as election day for three seats on the Basalt Town Council but it was canceled for lack of interest. Only three candidates entered the ring.

Incumbent Ryan Slack will return for his second four-year term. Newcomers Dieter Schinder and Angela Anderson will take seats uncontested.

Basalt Mayor Bill Kane said he has met with both new members of the board and believes they will make solid contributions. He said he was surprised the election didn’t draw more interest.

“There are a couple of ways you can interpret it,” Kane said. “Well, we don’t have (any) barn-burning issues on the front page every day that really get people stoked. Maybe it’s an indication that people feel like it’s going OK, (they) don’t have to get in there.

“Or maybe it’s boring,” he continued. “I’m not sure what to say. We didn’t get bad people. We got three really good people to serve on council.”

Schindler and Anderson will take their seats on April 12 at the council first meeting after the election date. They replace Gary Tennenbaum, who couldn’t run again because of term limits, and Bill Infante, who declined a re-election bid.

Despite the lack of an election, The Aspen Times asked Schindler and Anderson to answer questionnaires to acquaint them to the community.

Angela Anderson

Angela Anderson

Age: 38

Education: I have a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in Mass Media and Speech Communication from Houston Baptist University

Occupation: I’m primarily a stay-at-home mom

Family: My husband, Aaron Ward, and I have two sons, Anderson (6) and Ever (3)

Neighborhood: Willits

Years residing in Basalt: 7

Experience on volunteer boards: In 2018, I helped introduce a fundraiser called the Angel Tree project to Basalt and have volunteered on its board over the last few holiday seasons. Angel Tree serves local families each year to make sure every kid gets a gift under the tree. I’m currently volunteering on the Teacher Appreciation Week committee at Basalt Elementary.

Why did you decide to run for town council?

I love Basalt! It’s a gem of a town and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to raise my kids here. I want to show them that it’s important to give back to your community however you can. And, at present, our town council has only one female council member. Gender diversity in leadership is a good thing, so it’s important to bring more women into positions of influence in our town.

The affordable housing crisis is particularly acute now. What ideas do you want to explore to ease it?

We need to take steps to convert short-term rentals in our area into housing for people who live and work here. I’d like to encourage private investment in local housing by offering a financial incentive for homeowners who offer long-term leases for locals.

It’s also vital to loosen restrictions on Accessory Dwelling Units. Allowing someone to build an ADU addresses two issues. First, it creates an opportunity for home ownership that might not otherwise exist. The cost of purchasing a home in this valley is a huge barrier for so many people. Having a rental unit attached to a home allows a prospective homeowner to have a guaranteed stream of income to help make a mortgage more affordable. And second, it brings a desperately needed rental unit into our community.

List three other primary issues that you want to address in the next four years:

— As a stay-at-home mom, I am personally impacted by the child care crisis facing our community. We need more facilities overall and more infant care.

— Recent data shows that human recreation impacts wildlife, and the elk population is especially suffering. I want to explore solutions like wildlife migration crossings to help prevent collisions and protect the animals that also call this place home.

— Like many other locals, I have been saddened to learn recently that some of the mental health resources in our community are not providing adequate care. I’ll be paying attention to this issue and supporting organizations that can provide mental health services for our residents.

Dieter Schindler

Dieter Schindler

Age: 49

Education: B.A. Political Science, Metropolitan University of Denver

Occupation: Food and Beverage

Family: Wife, Michelle Schindler; and daughter, Genevieve (10)

Neighborhood: Elk Run

Years residing in Basalt: 8 years

Experience on volunteer boards: Nearly two years on the Basalt Finance Advisory Board.

Why did you decide to run for town council?

I ran for town council (both times) because I am a personality who wants to help, be involved, and bring a pragmatic approach to solving the evolving issues that face our community. (Schindler ran for office in a contested election in 2020 and narrowly lost.)

The affordable housing crisis is particularly acute now. What ideas do you want to explore to ease it?

Affordable housing has been an issue the Roaring Fork Valley has been grappling with for many years. I think ADU incentives and increased deed restriction incentives could be a few tools to deploy for near-term relief in this current housing crisis. That said, I recognize that sustainable strategies to address the affordable housing issue require robust valley-wide collaboration and need to be nimble to seize immediate opportunities while staying steady in moving toward longer-term solutions. Fortunately, there is already a wealth of information, strategies, tools and learned experiences in the struggle to address affordable housing. As a Basalt Town Councilor, I plan to further immerse myself in this information, bring ideas forward, collaborate and help execute on strategies that address the affordable housing issue while maintaining the character and sense of community that make Basalt a place my family proudly calls home.

List three other primary issues that you want to address in the next four years:

— Finding solutions to enhance early childhood care and education opportunities.

— Grow after school programs and recreational opportunities for middle and high school students.

— Keeping up the positive momentum of Basalt Forward 2030. There are a good number of projects in motion already. I don’t want to lose site of some of the runners up, such as a new and necessary police facility.