New Council candidates … pick three | PostIndependent.com

New Council candidates … pick three

Brandy Copeland

New Castle voters will have to decide between four candidates to fill three seats on the town’s council for the next four years. Mailed ballots are now out for the April 3 election.

Incumbent Trustees Bruce Leland and Scott Owens are running for re-election in a race with Planning and Zoning Committee members Brandy Copeland and Joe Urnise.

Mayor Art Riddile is running unopposed for re-election.

Among the four trustee candidates, the top three vote-getters will be elected to the town board.

A New Castle candidates’ forum took place earlier this month. The Post Independent asked the candidates to tell us a little more about themselves and to answer a few questions. Here’s how they responded.

Brandy Copeland

Occupation: Underwriting Assistant at Philadelphia Insurance Companies

Number of years in New Castle: 6

Past and current civic involvement: Currently serving on the Planning and Zoning since 2016

Why are you running for election to the town board?

My main reason for running is because I would like to see more diversity on the board and in city government. I’m also interested bringing some ideas for family friendly events and activities for teenagers on Friday, just to name a few.

What do you see as the major issues facing New Castle, and how will you address them?

Housing and infrastructure are the biggest issues in my opinion. We need to figure out smaller more affordable housing options. Zoning changes need to be modified to fit current housing, parking and recreation needs. Some work has already been done in P&Z, but it’s a slow process, and I want to find out a way to get that done at a faster pace.

How can the town better support new and existing businesses?

I think the current council is already doing a great job in this area. They are easy to deal with and have negotiated in the past with developers to get businesses into town.

Will you look to continue to expand New Castle’s trail network and why?

Absolutely. I love the expanded trail system; I personally use it several times a week. I enjoy the outdoors and am thankful I don’t have to travel upvalley to get a good hike in. I am also looking forward to learning more about the LoVa trail and its funding challenges. I think a bike trail to Glenwood Springs would be very beneficial to the quality of life for the residents of New Castle.

Bruce Leland

Occupation: Retired professor of English

Number of years in New Castle: 15

Past and current civic involvement: Town Council since 2006; mayor pro tem; Planning and Zoning Commission; Historic Preservation Commission; Downtown Group; Rifle Regional Economic Development Corp.; Northwest Colorado Cultural Heritage Tourism; Garfield Clean Energy.

Why are you running for election to the town board?

I am committed to community service and believe I have made a contribution as a councilor. We have an outstanding council, staff and community, and I would like to continue to work with them.

What do you see as the major issues facing New Castle, and how will you address them?

Smart growth: After a long dry spell, we are seeing growth in New Castle. The approved plans for Castle Valley and Lakota provide room for hundreds of new homes, and we need to make sure we preserve our community character as we grow.

Budgeting: Preparing the annual budget is probably the most important responsibility of the council. No town or city ever has as much funding as it would like, and New Castle’s council has to regularly sort out its collective priorities and allot its funds.

Infrastructure: The town has a new pedestrian bridge, new parks and recent water plant upgrades. There is always more to be done, and future councils must continue to prioritize major infrastructure projects and seek grant funding for them.

How can the town better support new and existing businesses?

Economic development is a slow and ongoing process. I learned at the first economic development conference I attended that towns will work with many prospective businesses before one proposal comes to fruition. We need to continue, increase and publicize several initiatives already in place: working with the Chamber of Commerce to support businesses; providing incentives to new or expanding businesses; supporting locally owned businesses; continuing downtown improvement; and holding events that draw people into town. There will be two new businesses opening downtown this spring, with support from the town. That is a good sign for the future.

Will you look to continue to expand New Castle’s trail network and why?

The council has enthusiastically supported the development of new trails and improved connectivity throughout town. The trails serve both residents and potential tourists. Trail work must continue.

Scott Owens

Occupation: Director of Human Resources at Mountain Family Health Centers

Number of years in New Castle: Since 2007

Past and current civic involvement: I have been serving on town council the past two years.

Why are you running for election to the town board?

I am running for election because I enjoy working with town leaders and citizens on ways to make New Castle the best place to live in the valley. Over the past two years we’ve expanded our trails network, new businesses have moved in and town events have increased. I look forward to helping lead our town towards positive growth that embraces our identity and culture.

What do you see as the major issues facing New Castle, and how will you address them?

A major issue facing New Castle is development. It can be a blessing and curse. I will be working in partnership with town leaders to ensure our infrastructure can support our growth and that our growth does not take away the culture and identity of the community.

How can the town better support new and existing businesses?

The town can best support new and existing business by making sure New Castle remains safe and clean. Our police and downtown volunteer group do a great job of making New Castle an inviting place to socialize. I also support more downtown events such as festivals and concerts to encourage travel to town and business traffic.

Will you look to continue to expand New Castle’s trail network and why?

Yes, I will continue to expand the New Castle’s trails network. Trails promote personal well-being and keep residents in town on weekends to ride and hike, which supports our businesses. I anticipate our trails will also encourage day travels to stop by New Castle to ride and hike. This also supports our businesses.

Joe Urnise

Occupation: Project Engineer for the Colorado Department of Transportation

Number of years in New Castle: My family has lived in New Castle for 6 years

Past and current civic involvement: I have been on the Planning and Zoning Committee since 2014. I am also the Vice Chairman of New Castle Trails.

Why are you running for election to the town board?

My family truly loves the town that we call home. I believe that New Castle a decade from now will look a lot different than the New Castle of today. The decisions the board will make in the next four years will be felt for many years to come, and I would like to be a part of that process.

What do you see as the major issues facing New Castle, and how will you address them?

How we treat growth in the coming years is the most important issue in our town. I think that both limiting growth and total unchecked expansion have their downsides, and the best answer is between those two approaches. We need to be cognizant of where we came from and who we are when deciding where we are going as a town. Keeping New Castle affordable is another major issue that we face. While we cannot control the escalating housing market, I think that we should explore employee and affordable housing options when available. I believe that our policemen, firefighters, town staff as well as teachers should all be provided opportunities to call home the town for which they serve. These individuals form the fabric of the town and should be able to call our community “home.”

How can the town better support new and existing businesses?

As the husband of a small business owner (my wife Karen owns Urnise Dentistry in Glenwood Springs), I have an appreciation for what it takes for businesses to succeed in our valley. I think that the board should be aggressive in seeking the right entrepreneurs that want to establish themselves in New Castle. This may include developing partnerships with outside organizations that can bring resources and capacities that the town simply does not have. In doing so, New Castle must continue to make the downtown corridor a priority for new and existing businesses alike. Recent projects, including the streetscape improvements as well as an upcoming lane diet on Main Street, will make downtown New Castle more attractive than ever.

Will you look to continue to expand New Castle’s trail network and why?

As a member of New Castle Trails and a mountain biker myself, I am proud of our accomplishments so far and hope that this is the tip of the iceberg. From building community to tourism potential, our trails network truly is a New Castle asset. New Castle Trails has established a great relationship with the Bureau of Land Management, and any expansion within BLM limits will of course adhere to its rules and regulations. I see all positives coming from an expansive trail network not only within our in-town network but beyond.


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