4 candidates vie for 3 New Castle council seats
In Friday’s Post independent
Look for coverage from the Silt trustee and mayoral candidates forum [also at postindependent.com]
With town voters set to decide what New Castle’s town council will look for the next four years, incumbents Scott Owens and Bruce Leland, as well as candidates Brandy Copeland and Joseph Urnise voiced their opinions on key issues to voters Wednesday night during the town’s election forum.
While the evening served mainly as a meet-and-greet for the four candidates with town residents, each answered several questions and introduced themselves to community members and residents of the town they hope to represent after April 3.
“The councils I have served have accomplished great things,” said mayor pro tem Leland during his three-minute introduction. “We need to grow but must do it carefully. We must balance growth with the preservation of town character.”
Owens said it didn’t take long for him and his family to fall in love with New Castle after moving to town in 2007. He’d like to see New Castle continue to expand on its community events and trail network.
“I would like to be on the next town council,” Urnise said during his introduction. “I’m here because I love the town. I think we have important decisions coming in the next four years that will shape the town for decades. Important, fun and exciting decisions.”
Copeland, who has lived in New Castle for six years, wants to be part of bringing a great quality of life to New Castle residents and wants to bring more diversity to leadership roles in town and throughout Garfield County. She said she wants to bring more entertainment to town for young people, as well as affordable housing.
In fact, affordable housing was brought up by each of the candidates as it continues to be a top issue for every town throughout the valley.
Owens named affordable housing as the council’s most important issue for the next four years, as did Copeland.
“Housing is one of the biggest issues,” Owens said. “Bringing people in that feel they can grow and build their family is getting more and more difficult.”
Leland named infrastructure as the biggest issue facing the town because “just as much money needs to be spent on less glamorous infrastructure projects.”
He named sidewalk improvements and the LoVa Trail as infrastructure projects that will need additional funding.
“Growth is by far the most important thing we will have to deal with,” Urnise said in response to the question of what the biggest issue facing New Castle is. “We will need responsible and sustainable growth.”
While the four candidates had their own unique answers to each question at the Wednesday forum, with only three open seats, just the three candidates with the most votes will be on New Castle Board of Trustees until April 2022.
Both Copeland and Urnise sit on the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission and if elected, they will need to immediately vacate their seat on that board. Copeland’s P&Z term will expire in April 2020, whereas Urnise’s term is up in April.
Moderator Steve Rippy asked the candidates their thoughts on New Castle’s medical and recreational marijuana business moratorium. While Copeland and Leland both spoke in favor of the ban, as well as Mayor Art Riddile, who’s running unopposed, Urnise said the question should go to the voters.
“I want New Castle to talk about pot,” Urnise said. “We have not had a public conversation. I would propose a nonbinding public vote. My opinion is that there is a silent majority.”
Owens agreed and felt the revenue could help out the town.
“It’s irresponsible not to talk about these things,” he added.
New Castle remains the only town in Garfield County to ban both medical and recreational marijuana sales, a policy its mayor continues to support.
“At this time I am opposed to any marijuana-related business in town,” Riddile told voters at the forum.
Ballots for the town elections in New Castle and Silt, as well as in Carbondale and Basalt, will be mailed out as early as March 12. Parachute did not have more candidates than available town board seats, so its election was canceled.