Carbondale candidates forum – comic relief, serious issues
CARBONDALE, Colorado – Comic relief clearly was one of Doc Philip’s goals at a candidate forum here Monday. He is one of 10 candidates running for three seats, was one of eight to show up at the forum, and was the only one in costume.Philip, 64, played the event for as many chuckles as he could get from the audience of about 75. He wore a Hawaiian shirt, and wore a stuffed shark’s head as a hat with the teeth pulled down to his ears as though it were biting him. He also carried two little toys as props, one of which talked to him.”I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to run for city council,” Philip deadpanned, eliciting laughter from the crowd. “But, if I get elected, there’s going to be some changing going on, a sharp biting of heads.”Ten candidates are running for three open seats on the town’s board of trustees, in a mail-ballot election that concludes on April 3.Two incumbents, John Hoffmann and Pam Zentmyer, are running for re-election, while Trustee Ed Cortez is leaving the board because of term limits.Trustee hopefuls Stacy Stein and Sean Keery were out of town and absent from the forum, according to organizers of the event. The forum was sponsored by KDNK community radio and The Sopris Sun newspaper.Moderated by Sopris Sun board member Frank Zlogar, the forum featured questions that had been submitted in advance and were put to every candidate at the table.Not a single question dealt with traditional issues such as stretching the town’s anemic budget, needed capital improvements, or an appropriate size for the police department.Zlogar first asked the candidates how they had voted in the recent, hotly contested Village at Crystal River shopping center election, and what they thought should happen with the 24-acre VCR site now that the project has been rejected for a second time by voters.Incumbents Pam Zentmyer and John Hoffmann, along with Allyn Harvey and Philip, said they voted against the project. Bill Lamont, Lorey Esquibel and Red Cunningham voted in favor of letting it be built.James Breasted did not answer the question, and instead said there should only be five trustees serving the town instead of seven. He passed along the microphone with the remark, “Everything has been said, and not everybody has said it.”Concerning the future of the site, Zentmyer said, “If there was no limit in dreaming, I would love to see it become a place where we can grow food.”Lamont, an outspoken supporter of the VCR project, said, “The most important thing this town needs to do is get a fix on where it is from a revenue standpoint.” Then it can try to figure out what to do next with the land.Hoffmann suggested the community get together and buy the property from developer Rich Schierberg. “If 4,000 of us paid $1,000 apiece,” he said, a group of residents could raise $4 million toward the purchase.
Another question was whether Carbondale should limit the number of medical marijuana businesses.Lamont said having one conventional pharmacy and a half-dozen or more dispensaries “seems to be out of balance.”Hoffmann noted there are roughly the same number of dispensaries as liquor stores, and said, “That’s probably about right.”He said alcohol is more of a problem for kids and adults. “The war on drugs is ineffective. I’m glad we’re stepping on the road to legalization,” referring to a statewide voter initiative on legalization, Hoffmann said.Esquibel, like Lamont, liked the idea of pharmacies being in charge of dispensing medical marijuana. She said the current town regulations are okay, “for what we have now.”Breasted said he rented a room to a medical marijuana grower, a college graduate in horticulture working for a local business.”It’s a source of revenue to me,” Breasted said, “and I think it could be a source of revenue to Carbondale.”Philip maintained that the town should secede from the union, legalize marijuana and invite the economic boost such a move might create.”I know hundreds of brewers who would come here and make marijuana beer and wine,” he said. “You can have a fun town and happy streets.”Harvey agreed that pharmacies might be better for distributing medical marijuana, but said the current regulatory setup in Carbondale has his support.Cunningham said the free market will decide how many pot shops Carbondale can support. But he, too, liked the pharmacy idea.Most candidates said they support the town’s 1,000-foot exclusion zone, barring pot shops from getting any closer to schools.
In response to a question about jobs available in Carbondale in 20 years, Esquibel said she hoped for retail-oriented businesses, recreational opportunities and light manufacturing. She favors “jobs that anchor people to the community.”Breasted resisted the question and said, “To me, that’s a ‘have you stopped beating your wife?’ question.”Instead of listing his preferred future employment sectors, he said an Aspen friend recently told him, ” ‘You couldn’t pay me to live up there [in Aspen], but I would pay to live in Carbondale.’ I thought that was a wonderful compliment.”Cunningham, Harvey and Hoffmann all agreed that Carbondale is an inspiration to its residents, even without traditional economic development efforts.”I would like to see it continue to thrive and draw the kind of people who make this a special place,” Harvey said.Cunningham said he hopes to see “organic growth of the businesses” so people can live and work here.”People are doing things that they believe in,” Hoffmann said. “The sky’s the limit, and Carbondale’s probably reaching for it already.”Other questions included such topics as the candidates’ understanding of vision and community, the potential of natural gas drilling in the Thompson Divide area, and growth along the Highway 133 corridor and the center of firstname.lastname@example.org
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Imagine Glenwood and The City of Glenwood Springs is slated to host a virtual town hall at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 11.