Candidates cross swords in Carbondale |

Candidates cross swords in Carbondale

Lynn BurtonStaff Writer

In between low-key campaign pitches, bits of new information and opinion trickled from Wednesday night’s three-hour candidate forum in Carbondale:-Garfield County Commission incumbent Walt Stowe said funding for a full-blown animal control program would probably require a tax hike.-District 61 Colorado House of Representatives incumbent Gregg Rippy, R-Glenwood Springs, said Colorado probably can’t afford to form a new county such as the Sopris County that many residents in the Carbondale and Glenwood Springs area want to create.-Garfield County Treasurer Georgia Chamberlain, a Democrat, addressed a newspaper advertisement placed by her challenger, Republican Cheryl Chandler, and said party politics shouldn’t play a role in the race.Besides Stowe, Rippy and Chamberlain, Wednesday night’s forum drew Garfield County sheriff candidates Tom Dalessandri and Lou Vallario, Garfield County commission candidate Trsi Houpt, and District 61 Statehouse candidates Rick Davis, D-Glenwood Springs, and Natural Law Party candidate Abba Krieger of Carbondale. Chandler was out of town.Houpt vs. StoweHoupt, a Democrat, said she learned early in the county commission campaign that animal control is a “huge issue” in Garfield County. She said the county must look more closely at “creative” funding mechanisms, such as the possibility of federal grants to pay for animal control from Parachute to Carbondale.”But we have to address it,” Houpt said.Stowe, who seeks a second term as county commissioner, said the cost for a full-blown animal control program would be about $500,000 to $600,000 a year. The program would require a larger sheriff’s staff, animal shelters and possibly a public/private partnership. Even without having the funding in place, the county moved toward an animal control program three weeks ago by passing a resolution that defines offenses and gives the sheriff tools for issuing citations, Stowe said.Rippy vs. Davis vs. KriegerRippy, who seeks a second term in the statehouse, gave a brief history about how the new Broomfield County near Boulder was created, and said state costs were much higher than predicted.”People didn’t realize how much tax money would go for that,” Rippy said. Higher costs for the state included Broomfield’s district court system and department of social services.Early in his remarks about the District 61 race, Davis said he would comment on statehouse votes Rippy had cast “against” affordable housing, mass transit, growth management, open space and health care.Davis, a Glenwood Springs City Council member, said he is running for the statehouse to give voters a choice, and also to raise issues for discussion. “I think we’ve done that,” Davis said.Rippy said he voted in his district’s best interests, and also took exception to Davis saying he is against affordable housing. “I’m not against affordable housing,” Rippy said. “I was keynote speaker at an affordable housing conference last week.”Rippy concluded, “I looked at 1,400 bills. Trust me, they weren’t all good bills.”Rippy and Davis said they both support a property tax hike for the Colorado River Water Conservation District which would help protect Western Slope water from other agencies. Krieger, a Carbondale resident, disagreed. “Water conservation is the answer, not more taxes,” he said.Throughout his presentations, Krieger peppered his remarks with Natural Law Party positions, including a nationwide $10,000 pay raise for teachers, lower taxes, less dependence on foreign oil, and actions that would “obliterate” terrorism and disease.All three District 61 candidates said they oppose Amendment 31, which would restrict bilingual education programs in Colorado schools.”Immersion works,” said Rippy, referring to intensive classes in English rather than bilingual approaches, “But there’s too much downside.”subhed: Chamberlain vs. ChandlerCounty Treasurer Georgia Chamberlain seeks her fifth term. Her first comments addressed Chandler’s newspaper advertisement that claims the treasurer’s office is or was deficient in five areas dating back to 1999.Chamberlain said Chandler’s allegations came from a management letter included in the county’s 1999 audit, and the letter shouldn’t be used as “a political tool.”Chamberlain then took the audience back to 1999. At that time, the treasurer’s office and county accounting office had new computer systems. The accounting office staff had completely turned over, and the county had a new assistant county manager.”It was complete mayhem,” Chamberlain said.Chamberlain admitted there were problems in 1999, but she has resolved them as best she can. “We’re just fine.”subhed: Dalessandri vs. VallarioIn the sheriff’s race, Dalessandri explained his interest in preparing for terrorist attacks. He said it started after last year’s Sept. 11 attacks, when the U.S. Attorney General told law enforcement agencies to be on heightened alert, but nobody called him with additional information on what he was supposed to do. Dalessandri said state officials weren’t much help either.”It angered me, so that’s when I started writing letters,” Dalessandri said.One lesson Dalessandri has learned since 9-11 is the importance of getting reliable information into his department, and also out to the public. “It’s important to make smart decisions,” he said.Vallario said he agrees with Dalessandri and it’s “absolutely” important for the county to be prepared for an attack, but the sheriff also must work closely with deputies on everything from traffic control to domestic violence cases, plus training.”You need to caution how you use your time,” Vallario said.

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