Garfield County commissioner candidates lay out top goals for ’09 |

Garfield County commissioner candidates lay out top goals for ’09

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The four Garfield County commissioner candidates outlined their top goals for the next year on Tuesday night should they win a spot on the commission this Nov. 4. Two seats are up for grabs this election year.

The candidates explained their goals during the 23rd annual Issues and Answers Night at the Glenwood Springs City Hall, an event that was hosted by the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.

John Martin, a three-term Republican incumbent, is running against Carbondale blacksmith and artist Stephen Bershenyi in the District 2 race. Steve Carter, a former Garfield County judge, is battling Mike Samson, Rifle High School’s dean of students, in the District 2 race.

If victorious against Samson, Carter said his top goal next year would be to change the manner in which county commissioners conduct meetings. He said if residents look at the minutes of the commissioners’ meetings this year, they would indicate that they held an executive session in each meeting. Those sessions are generally closed-door meetings for county commissioners to discuss legal advice and personnel matters.

“If you look at the reasons for (those executive sessions), some were called for legitimate reasons, some weren’t,” he said. If elected, Carter said he would work toward minimizing executive sessions.

Samson said his first goal for the year would be to work harder to find common ground among the county’s residents.

“I would like to see more people coming to the table and going away with a compromise every one can live with,” he said.

He added that if Amendment 58 passes, he would like to see the county make an effort to change it to return more money to energy-impacted communities. Samson opposes Amendment 58, which removes a property tax credit that allows energy companies to significantly reduce their severance tax bill. Most of the money generated from that move would go toward college scholarships.

Bershenyi said if he were elected, his top goal would be to reach to residents across the area by holding commissioner meetings in different communities of the county. That would allow more people to be involved in county proceedings, he said.

“It would be refreshing to be away from the seat of county government (in Glenwood Springs),” Bershenyi said. “We need to reach out to the community as a whole.”

Martin’s goal for the next year, if he wins, is to get the county’s final land use code, which the commissioners recently approved, in place on Jan. 1. That would help drive momentum to revamp the county’s Master Plan, which guides the county’s future land use of Garfield County. That document, said Martin, hasn’t been updated in several years. If the county doesn’t make revisions to that plan, the county could fall behind in preparing for the county’s future, he said.

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