Lambert: Entities should play nicely together
Wamsley Elementary School teacher Keith Lambert says he tells his fourth-grade students the same lessons about cooperation he wants to bring with him to county government.”Friction between the county and municipalities crops up, up and down the valley,” said Lambert, who also serves as Rifle’s mayor. “The county has to learn to play well with others.”Lambert has put in 31 years as a teacher, 23 of which have been spent at Garfield School District Re-2. He said he’s using not only his experience in the classroom but also his background in government and management in his current bid for Garfield County commissioner for District 3 against incumbent Larry McCown. Lambert said he will retire from both teaching and being mayor to become a full-time Garfield County commissioner. He said he was already planning to retire from teaching before deciding to join the commissioner race. And he doesn’t feel like he’s “done” with the city of Rifle. Instead, he said from his vantage point as mayor, at times Rifle’s city planning hasn’t been able to progress because of a lack of cooperation between the city and the county. “There’s often a gap there that doesn’t allow progress to take place,” he said. “It happens in other towns and cities here, too. I want to bridge that gap.” Lambert thinks that by moving to the county side, he’ll be able to foster more cooperation. “We have overlapping interests. We can’t operate as islands,” Lambert said.Concrete discussions neededAnother area Lambert said needs more communication is between county residents, and the oil and gas industry. He said he’s heard that he’s being portrayed as being anti-industry but that nothing could be further from the truth. “If we want the gas industry to be better neighbors, we have to sit down with them and with surface landowners and have concrete discussions where everyone is treated with fairness,” he said. To this end, Lambert commended the current board of commissioners for creating the Energy Advisory Board.”This is the perfect form for the citizenry and industry to have dialog,” he said.He also said regional governments need to relay information to state legislatures so that they’re aware of the conflicts between surface owners and the industry. That’s how laws change can change, he said. “Unless we let the state know what’s going on, they can’t help us,” he said.’New and different ideas’Lambert said he has a long history in education, including several advanced degrees. He said he also has a long history in public service, which includes an eight-year stint with the Rifle Fire Protection District, starting in 1992. He first served on the district’s board of directors, and he acted as its president for the last three years until term limits ended his affiliation.”After eight years, it was time for change, new and different ideas, and new blood,” he said.In 2000, Lambert said he was recruited to serve on the Rifle City Council, which led to serving as mayor for the past two years. In the head city job, he said he’s been known to encourage lots of communication between different city departments.”Two people on the city council told me that we’ve had more meetings in the last two years then in the last six years before that, combined,” Lambert said. “I said to them, ‘I take that as a compliment.’ I don’t want to hold meetings just to hold meetings. But we need to set up mechanisms to accomplish our vision. We have to learn to work together, too.” Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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