Candidates support liaison position |

Candidates support liaison position

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Three Garfield County commissioner candidates supported an idea from Rep. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison, for the county to create a staff position that would serve as a liaison between the county and the state legislature.

Curry broached her idea to county commissioner candidates during a Glenwood Springs Association of Realtors candidate forum on Wednesday at Beau Jo’s Pizza.

While the Western Slope, especially Garfield County, is at the center of energy development in the state, there is only one representative from area governments and organizations at the state legislature on a constant basis, Curry said.

Curry suggested that the county might fund a position to give the county a full-time presence at the state legislature, and that it would give legislators a better sense of what is needed in the area and across the Western Slope.

“I know that budgets are tight,” Curry said. “It might help us.”

Mike Samson, the Republican candidate in the District 3 commissioner race, said Curry’s proposal was a “great solution.”

“I would jump all over that,” said Samson, adding the county is the area of the state most impacted by energy development. “It would be money well spent for Garfield County to have someone who is (working) for us. We need help. We need it now.”

Steve Carter, who is running against Samson, agreed it was a “really good idea.” He said the county is the 12th largest county in the state by population, but it is the No. 1 location for natural gas development in the state.

“The county needs to be heard at the state house level and needs to be heard loud,” Carter said. “We are not a little itty-bitty county out in the middle of nowhere. We are growing like crazy and our voice needs to be heard in Denver. “

Republican incumbent John Martin said several staff members, including himself, already lobby and consult with state legislators on behalf of the county. He later said that he didn’t think such a position would be a good use of county money, adding that lobbying for issues concerning Garfield County should fall on elected officials and county staff.

“Why should we pay for it when we can do it ourselves?” he asked.

Martin said he often goes to Denver to talk to legislators, often lumbering large binders with him.

“I am very popular with my binders at the state capital,” Martin told the crowd at Wednesday’s forum. “I know just about everyone. We are there.”

Stephen Bershenyi, a Democrat who is running against Martin, took a subtle dig at his opponent after Martin made his comments. He said if Martin and the other members of staff are often in Denver, “who is minding the store at home?”

“I think it is a great idea,” Bershenyi said of Curry’s proposal. “We need someone who works for all three commissioners.”

Contact Phillip Yates: 384-9117

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