Four hopefuls look to unseat McInnis
Congressman Scott McInnis, R-Grand Junction, faces four challengers for his 3rd District seat in the Nov. 5 election. One supports making Iraq the 51st state should it attack the United States.”We should tell Saddam Hussein that if he attacks us, we will attack and conquer him,” said write-in candidate James Krug, a 47-year-old Pueblo businessman.Krug said that after the United States defeats Iraq and makes it a state, “We won’t have to worry about oil.”The other candidates facing McInnis are Democrat Denis Berckefeldt of Denver, Libertarian J. Brent Shroyer of Rangely, and Natural Law Party member Gary Swing, also from Denver.Denver is outside the Third District, which covers the entire Western Slope plus Pueblo, the San Luis Valley and parts of Jefferson and Douglas counties, but candidates need not reside in the district they hope to represent, Berckefeldt said. Candidates just need to be at least 25 years old, registered to vote, and a U.S. citizen, he said.Democrat DenisBerckefeldtBerckefeldt, 55, is the chief of staff for the Colorado Senate majority leader. The Democratic Party drafted him to run against McInnis when nobody from the Western Slope stepped up to the plate.”I’ve lived in Pueblo off and on all my life,” Berckefeldt said.Berckefeldt admits he is “an extreme long shot” to defeat McInnis. “But the people should have a choice,” he said.Universal health care insurance is one of Berckefeldt’s primary issues. He said President -Healthy Beginnings provides prenatal care only to Garfield County women, while Mountain Family Health Center is a clinic for all ages and all towns.-Garfield County helped found Healthy Beginnings 11 years ago, and still provides in-kind services and office space. Mountain Family Health Center is part of a larger, Front Range based nonprofit that operates clinics in three other counties.Both groups warned the county commissioners they face uncertain funding futures, due in part to a nationwide downturn in grants from foundations and other sources.”Tsunami waves are coming at us and are getting bigger all the time,” said Trish Kramer, who helped found Healthy Beginnings, and is the administrator for Women’s Health Associates.Kramer told the commissioners Women’s Health Associates first broached the notion of having Mountain Family Health Center take over Healthy Beginnings’ role 18 months ago, but the commissioners said no. She started thinking about the idea again in July.”Women’s Health Associations is a stakeholder in Healthy Beginnings,” Kramer said. “I’ll take the blame for rocking the boat again. … This offer is the best possibility for its long-term success.”Mountain Family Health Center welfare director Dave Adamson explained why his group wants to take over functions now performed by Healthy Beginnings. He also painted a bleak picture for Healthy Beginnings’ future, touching on everything from the threat of lawsuits to its staff’s workload.”Healthy Beginnings has done a yeoman’s effort to get to where it is, but it’s understaffed,” Adamson said.After Adamson’s presentation, the commissioners had some questions. Walt Stowe asked what’s in it for Mountain Family Health Center. Executive director Diane Rittenhouse replied that the Garfield County office space would be the biggest plus in taking over Healthy Beginnings. “It’s not to pay our overhead,” Rittenhouse said.Commissioner John Martin asked about the future of the current Healthy Beginnings’ board of directors. Rittenhouse said the board might be used as a fund-raising arm or in an advisory capacity.In other business at Monday’s county commissioner meeting:-Commissioners approved the 17-lot Monument Ridge subdivision southeast of Parachute. The subdivision covers 181 acres, and the lots range in size from six to 13 acres each.-Commissioners approved an accessory dwelling unit for a property owner at the Preserve at Prehm Ranch.-Marvin Stephens was appointed acting road and bridge department director.-The commissioners let stand the county fire ban, but will discuss the topic Monday, Sept. 23.-The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority requested $25,000 for next year’s operating budget, and pointed out the authority provides services in unincorporated Garfield County.
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