Gas industry regulatory activist Leslie Robinson to challenge for Garfield County commissioner seat
Leslie Robinson, a 40-year Rifle resident and longtime citizen activist involved in oil and gas regulatory issues, is challenging Republican Garfield County Commissioner Mike Samson for the District 3 seat in the upcoming fall election.
Robinson, a Democrat, has lived in Garfield County since the 1970s and is currently the chair of the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance, a nonprofit organization involved with oil and gas issues.
“I’m stepping into the race because Garfield County citizens need a new choice and a new voice in governing the county,” Robinson said in a news release announcing her candidacy.
She noted that the three Republican commissioners — Samson, Tom Jankovsky and John Martin — have served a combined 50 years in office.
“People crave diversity, new governance and a fresh approach to the challenges we all face.” Robinson said.
Robinson previously ran for county commissioner in 1996 against Republican Larry McCown, the eventual winner who was elected to his first of three four-year terms.
That was the same year Martin was also first elected. His District 2 seat is also up this year. He’s being challenged by Democrat Katrina Byars.
Samson was not immediately available for comment Thursday on Robinson’s decision to run. Samson will be seeking his fourth term in office after first being elected in 2008.
“I am especially concerned that the commissioners have spent millions of dollars fighting against new air quality rules and proposed state health and safety guidelines, and have supported weakening environmental regulations on public lands,” Robinson said in her statement. “I believe this is contrary to what most GarCo residents want. There’s better use for these funds.”
She noted that the local oil and gas industry has been impacted by world markets and the abundance of natural gas in other locales.
“Oil and Gas drilling has always been a boom or bust industry,” she said. “Spending millions to support one industry that has periodic ups and downs is not a good business model for Garfield County. It’s time to diversify our county economy and endorse protections for our environment.
“It’s time for better balance and perspectives as we face the challenges of a post-COVID society.”
Robinson was previously involved with several newspaper start-ups in Rifle and Glenwood Springs, served as the United Way of Garfield County executive director, and worked in retail management.
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