Jankovsky continues ‘jobs, economy’ message during his re-election bid
(Editor’s note: This is the second of three stories this week about this year’s contested Garfield County Commission race between Republican incumbent Tom Jankovsky and Democratic challenger Michael Sullivan. Today’s feature is a Question-and-Answer with Jankovsky. Look for Sullivan’s responses to the same set of questions in Wednesday’s Post Independent and online at http://www.postindependent.com.)
Tom Jankovsky, Republican, was elected to the Garfield County District 1 Commissioner seat in 2010, defeating then-incumbent Democrat Trési Houpt. Jankovsky worked for many years as general manager and part owner of Sunlight Mountain Resort.
We posed the following questions to this year’s candidates, who were limited to 150 words in their responses to the issue questions.
How long have you lived in Garfield County? Since 1985
Where are you from originally? Sterling, Colorado
What brought you here? Job at Sunlight Mountain Resort
Education: Bachelor of Science, Pacific University
Occupation: County Commissioner; board of directors, Sunlight Mountain Resort
Family: Married with five grown children
Campaign Website: http://www.votetomj.com
Q. List three critical issues facing Garfield County and how you plan to address them.
A. The first and foremost issue is our economy. We are starting to recover from the recession yet have a long way to go. Business creates jobs; however, government can encourage business by cutting red tape and streamlining regulations, as Garfield County did by approving a new land use code in 2013. Additionally, government can help create jobs by funding infrastructure projects.
The second issue is federal land decisions that are being challenged by lawsuits, reviews and the Endangered Species Act. The outcome of these decisions will have impacts on western Garfield County for future decades. The county needs to have a voice at the table as a cooperating agency in these decisions.
The third issue is immediate, and that is the (state) sales tax refunds that are crippling our Library District and Emergency Communications. The county needs to audit the state books and support these agencies as necessary.
Q. How can county government help to facilitate economic development within the county and local communities?
A. Government can support business by cutting red tape and creating consistent rules and regulations. Garfield County did that in 2013 by revising our land use code and by providing a 5 percent local preference in the procurement code. In addition, the county has been in a position to fund infrastructure projects on county roads and buildings. This not only creates jobs but improves our infrastructure. The county has also provided grants directly to all six municipalities for infrastructure improvements, and grants are also distributed to local government agencies through the Federal Mineral Lease District.
As discussed in the first question, decisions made today on federal issues will have an effect on the economy in western Garfield County for decades. The county needs to continue to participate in these discussions and decisions.
Q. The recent loosening of some county land-use regulations weren’t without some controversy. What is your opinion of those revisions?
A. Regulations used for land-use applications are the Comprehensive Plan of 2030, zoning maps and Unified Land Use Regulations (ULUR). The Comp Plan was rewritten and accepted in 2011 as an advisory document, and I agree with that decision. The Comp Plan is a master plan looking at the county from a 50,000-foot view for the next 20 years. The Comp Plan as a mandatory document can go from a tool to a blockade. (Under the old code, if your application didn’t meet Comp Plan, it didn’t go forward in the process.)
The ULUR code improvements were reviewed by a citizen’s committee, the Planning Commission (12 meetings; approved on a 6-1 vote) and the BOCC (six meetings; approved unanimously in 2013). The new code streamlines procedures, is more efficient and provides consistency for applicants. I support the ULUR as a document that cuts red tape, redundancy and improves the planning process.
Q. What is the proper role for county government when it comes to oil and gas industry oversight?
A. The natural gas industry is a key driver of Garfield County’s economy, which is the largest producer of natural gas in Colorado. Property taxes fund county government; industry property taxes represent 80 percent of county property taxes and 85-90 percent of western Garfield special districts (fire, school and hospital district) revenues.
Colorado is known as a national leader in energy regulations. Garfield County relies on the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to regulate down-hole drilling operations. The COGCC has their Western Slope field office in Rifle.
Garfield County’s Oil and Gas office coordinates issues with citizens, natural gas operators and the COGCC regulators. In addition, the county has an Energy Advisory Board that meets monthly to discuss issues and to provide an energy education component.
I support a responsible and safe natural gas industry, and I support the county’s programs, which are a model for Colorado and the nation.
Q. What role should county government play in trying to influence federal land management policies?
A. Federal land represents 67 percent of Garfield County and these lands are rich in natural resources. It is important that the county participate in federal land decisions, which will have impacts to our county for decades. Federal land decisions are made via the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
A NEPA program, cooperating agency status, allows local and state governments to share their skills, resources and plans to help shape federal land-use plans.
Another act, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, states federal agencies are responsible to coordinate with state and local government plans and to make federal plans consistent with local plans. With these tools it is important for county government to be at the table to provide input and help shape federal land-use plans. I will note that, although we are at the table with local federal agencies, the final decision on these plans are made in Washington, D.C.
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