Linman, Samson for Garfield BOCC |

Linman, Samson for Garfield BOCC

Post Independent Opinion
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

Many eyes in Garfield County are focused on the two races for Garfield County commissioner in Districts 2 and 3. We are seeing a lot of polarization, with supporters lining up in either the Republican or the Democratic camp.

Yet overall, voters in the county are split three ways: 26 percent Democrat, 35 percent Republican, and 39 percent, the biggest share, are unaffiliated.

Recent polling by the Checks and Balances Project showed overall approval for the county commissioners at 53 percent, disapproval at 26 percent, and 21 percent uncertain.

This tells us that about half the county’s residents feel the commissioners are on the right track, but the other half either question their policies and actions or are unsure.

We believe such a split in public opinion calls for similar diversity of opinion on the Board of County Commissioners. At present, with three Republicans on the board, we do not have that diversity. There is no questioning or dissenting voice at the table.

So for this and other reasons, we urge a split ticket vote for Democrat challenger Sonja Linman in District 2 and Republican incumbent Mike Samson in District 3.

For all his enthusiasm and strengths, Aleks Briedis does not offer as much to voters as a challenger as Samson does as an incumbent.

Briedis is a vocal advocate for health and recreation, but to a fault. We see great potential in him for political leadership, and encourage him to stay involved, build his knowledge and his networks, and give it another go before too much time passes.

In one term in office, Samson has worked hard to build a culture of civility for county government. He forged positive relations with the county’s six municipalities mending feelings that were sorely damaged.

Samson showed leadership and good judgment in toning down a controversial resolution regarding federal oil shale leasing. He made it clear that trading our precious water resources in exchange for an unproven industry is not acceptable.

A former high school civics teacher, Samson is a good listener and waits to comment until he has formulated his thoughts. Sometimes this results in much silence, and we would like him to speak up more and serve as a stronger advocate in policy discussions. His voice is valued.

So we turn to the District 2 race to bring balance to the board, and to slow the county’s rush to be “open for business,” which has also come to be seen as business at any cost.

John Martin is a charming, distinctive individual, and he has taken some creditable stands on issues such as development outside town growth boundaries.

But he has fostered a friendly and permissive approach to the gas industry. While Martin boasts of the county government’s hefty cash reserves fed by gas industry tax revenues, residents in the gas patch feel they have been abandoned by county government.

The commissioners’ inappropriate decision to pull the plug on the Battlement Health Impact Assessment, and their relinquishing of local land use authority to a short-handed state regulatory agency, rests squarely on Martin’s shoulders as the longtime chair of the board.

John Martin has served with passion and style for the past 16 years, but we feel it is time for a change in the District 2 seat.

Linman has pointedly questioned the county’s cozy relations with the natural gas and oil shale industries, and promises to serve as a stronger advocate for landowners, for public health and the necessary studies to support it.

She has researched county policies to be ready for service, poring through the county budget, the land use code and the comprehensive plan. She questions the wisdom of striking large portions of the code to make the process easier for development, noting that economic development is dependent on offering quality of life as well as friendliness to business.

Linman would bring a questioning intellect to the board, and a passion for making Garfield County the best it can be.

In sum, we believe that Mike Samson and Sonja Linman are the two strongest candidates in their respective races, and that together they will bring a better balance to the Garfield Board of County Commissioners and to our county as a whole.

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