Linman challenges Martin for BOCC District 2 seat
The campaign season for the Nov. 6, 2012, election is here, and the Post Independent wants to make sure readers and voters have plenty of information before casting their vote.This month we are publishing question and answer articles with candidates for U.S. Congress, the state Legislature, University of Colorado Regent, Ninth District Attorney and the Garfield Board of County Commissioners, as well informative articles about the Garfield Legacy and Rifle sales tax ballot questions.Today we present interviews with the two candidates for Garfield County commissioner District 2, incumbent John Martin, a Republican, and challenger Sonja Linman, a Democrat. Commissioner District 2 runs from downtown Glenwood Springs to between Silt and Rifle, but voters in the whole county can cast a vote in this race.On Thursday, the Post Independent will publish interviews with the two District 3 candidates, incumbent Mike Samson, a Republican, and challenger Aleks Briedis, a Democrat.In early October, readers will hear again from candidates and issues campaigns when they speak directly to voters in opinion columns. And later in October, the Post Independent Editorial Board will publish its endorsements of candidates and ballot questions.The last day to register to vote is Tuesday, Oct. 9.For dates of upcoming local election forums, watch the calendar on page 4.For an archive of these stories, coverage of campaign forums and other election issues on the local, state and national level, please visit http://www.postindependent. com>News>Elections.
Q. What’s your opinion on the new and continuing revisions to loosen regulations in the Garfield County land-use code? A. To review and revise rules, a citizens’ committee was selected to reformat, edit, clarify, remove duplications and bureaucracy, make recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners (B0CC), which reviews and sends to the Planning and Zoning Commission. P&Z reviews and returns to the B0CC. The BOCC holds a public hearing, giving all an opportunity to comment. B0CC may or not approve the changes. The effort is to help make the land use rules easy to read, use, understand and be applied fairly, but to say “loosen rules” would be incorrect.Q. What’s the proper role for county government regarding oil and gas oversight?A. Garfield County, a statutory county only allowed the powers given by the state Legislature, applies its industrial standards to the oil and gas industry. Some included standards are for dust, vibrations, on-site employee housing, potable water, wastewater, some pipelines, storm water control, compressors, telecommunication towers, overweight and oversized vehicles, travel routes, office buildings, processing plants and lay down yards. The state permits pads, flaring, fracking, air quality, setbacks and down-hole activity, does inspections and they alone enforce the violations. Garfield County has a full-time employee who reviews applications and advises the BOCC.Q. What’s your position on the recent county resolution regarding oil shale development policy on public lands? A. I supported the resolution, because it upheld the 2008 record of decision of Congress, created through the cooperating agency status agreement between local governments, including Garfield County, and the federal agencies. It took nearly four years to work out all issues, achieve agreement, send to, and be approved by Congress. The 2012 plan removed 90 percent of the approved area for potential land to be considered for oil shale leasing identified in the 2008 approval. Lobby groups met with the U.S. Department of Interior in Washington, D.C., to come up with a framework for a new alternative, created and chosen as the preferred alternative without local government support. This approach was not allowed in 2008. Why was this allowed in 2012? The resolution by the Garfield County BOCC has been rescinded. A lawsuit by part of the lobbying group vs. the Garfield BOCC has been filed.Q. What are some ways county government can help facilitate economic development in the county and its local communities? A. To facilitate economic development we need an inventory of land use rules, zoning, workforce, training, nearby businesses, housing, transportation, identification of issues that assist or hamper a new business, level of infrastructure, community support, plus many other questions and answers. The county has conducted a study, to be shared with municipalities, existing businesses, and economic development groups. The county has worked with and given grants to existing economic development agencies and business startup agencies. Garfield County created a single point-of-contact position in the Planning and Zoning Department so municipalities, businesses and citizens will be able gather, combine and use all information from zoning to workforce, taxes and existing businesses. We have worked with Colorado Mountain College to establish training and job skills and degrees to prepare our citizens for new jobs.Q. Identify two other key issues facing Garfield County that you would focus on in the coming four years.A. Water demand is critical, so I have moved to buy permanent water rights from Ruedi Reservoir to aid municipalities, agriculture users and contract water users in Garfield County.Honesty will be a large factor. We are polarized like no other time in our history. We must learn to trust and differ on issues, but not destroy one another by words, deeds or mistruths.The lag in education for a trained workforce, thinkers, writers, artists, inventors and engineers exist in many areas. To regain leadership and respect, education must be the driving force or we will continue the slide toward being followers, not leaders.
Q. What’s your opinion on the new and continuing revisions to loosen regulations in the Garfield County land-use code? A. Although streamlined, new regulations also decrease hazardous material and industrial development setbacks to 100 feet from water bodies and residential property lines, change affordable housing requirements, and requirements for adequate water availability, and change pipeline and density plan requirements. Revisions are posted on the Garfield County website. However, the 454-page document does not invite community involvement. It is important to assess the impact of these codes on our daily lives. Economic development includes preserving a community that invites business and values quality of life. I encourage citizens to read and review these revisions while they may still offer public comment. Q. What’s the proper role for county government regarding oil and gas oversight?A. The role of county government is to represent the people. Our community values energy resources and development. We also value a healthy environment and clean air and water. Personal property rights should be respected, and citizens should be able to retain the equity and usability of their property. Therefore, as suggested by the new director of the COGCC, our commissioners may expand the use of the Local Government Designee program to represent local community interests.In addition, commissioners are responsible to advocate for our community through local land use regulations to ensure lasting property values, protect our quality of life, and preserve our water and air quality into the future. Q. What’s your position on the recent county resolution regarding oil shale development policy on public lands? A. Patterns and intentions determine community trust and relationships. People throughout the county have expressed hesitation regarding extraction industry development on public lands. Our communities value recreation, tourism, hunting, angling and wildlife management, and as the U.S. increases domestic energy production, local communities must provide discussion regarding impact and regulation. Locals have attended numerous community meetings requesting that the commissioners represent the will of the people. Elected officials should solicit community input and take a position that supports economic stability, environmental impact, and health and safety of our local people. Q. What are some ways county government can help facilitate economic development in the county and its local communities? A. “Advance Colorado” has identified key industries for development, including electronics, financial and business services, food and agriculture, health and wellness, information and technology, creative industries, tourism and recreation, infrastructure and engineering, bioscience, the New Energy Economy and education. Healthy communities attract healthy businesses, and economic diversity translates into local economic stability. Business resource centers, combined with business incubation ideas such as CMC’s Isaacson School for New Media, can help our community retain and recruit talent and new businesses. Municipalities and county government may offer incentives for public and private collaborations and work together to support innovation and vision for the future. Q. Identify two other key issues facing Garfield County that you would focus on in the coming four years.A. Our nation is experiencing extreme challenges and a divided approach to solutions. This tone permeates state and local governments, and it is time to bring people together. I would work tirelessly to instill trust, inspiration and openness in leadership. I would solicit perspectives from all people, especially those who may disagree. I would value and promote access to all information so citizens can make decisions for themselves, and I would follow best practices for management. Secondly, I would equally value and promote economic diversity and job creation with the stability that comes from environmental and personal health and safety.
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Only two weeks into the Colorado legislative session, local representatives can see the lines between Republicans and Democrats, as well as common ground.