Commissioner candidates cautious on quarry comments | PostIndependent.com

Commissioner candidates cautious on quarry comments

Republican Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky and his opponent, Democrat Paula Stepp, will undoubtedly receive a pit of questions on the campaign trail, particularly in Glenwood Springs, as it pertains to their positions on the anticipated strip mine expansion proposal north of town.

Rocky Mountain Resources (RMR), a natural resource acquisition and development company with offices in Los Angeles and Denver, acquired the strip mine located just north of Glenwood Springs in October 2016. Currently, RMR mines 20 truckloads of dolomite and limestone on a daily basis from 13 acres of land predominantly hidden from Glenwood's view.

Although no formal application has been presented to the Bureau of Land Management, as previously reported, the company has designs on increasing its truck fleet and excavation site drastically.

RMR has said it is currently in a "quiet period" regarding its strip mine expansion proposal, and both Jankovsky, currently up for re-election for a third term in office, and Stepp, a political newcomer, were also quiet when asked about the strip mine.

"First of all, there is not an application, so I can't comment on it," Jankovsky told the Post Independent. "I have to be, as well as my opponent would have to be, somewhat careful on how you respond, because if there is an application I don't want to have to be recused or have to excuse myself because of any statements I have made."

Jankovsky did divulge, however, that he would view the proposal from a "tourism perspective."

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"Prior to my retirement here this year, I have been the general manager of Sunlight Mountain Resort from 1985 to August 31, 2018," Jankovsky said. "We would not do anything to put [the tourism industry] at risk and lose jobs in an industry that's been here for 125 years."

Stepp also sidestepped the question, too, and for the same reason — to avoid recusal if she ends up being elected commissioner and hearing a formal proposal from the mine company.

"I actually got a chance to talk to RMR," Stepp said when she first announced her candidacy to unseat Jankovsky. "I guess [RMR] heard I was running."

"I think RMR was reaching out to see what the community would think and trying to show the positive side of things. Looking at it, I live on the south side of Glenwood, and after having a tour, that would definitely, just to start with, have a visual impact on our communities," Stepp added.

Stepp, like her opponent, did not offer much more regarding her views toward the mine but said she would view it from a community perspective.

"As far as saying how I feel about the quarry, I have to be very careful, just … because I have been advised whichever way I voice myself that potentially, that could cause me being asked to be recused from being part of the decision-making," Stepp said.

"[Jankovsky] is going from experience; I am going from advice," Stepp said of her decision not to release a statement regarding the strip mine.

With the election looming like RMR's proposed expansion, until the company hands over to the BLM its formal proposal for the strip mine expansion, it appears as though neither candidate can fully comment.

mabennett@postindependent.com