Rifle council candidates vie for seats
RIFLE – Growth, housing, oil and gas development and a vision for the city were the main topics discussed by the four city council candidates at a forum Wednesday night at Rifle City Hall.The forum was presented by the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce and moderated by Ron Milhorn of KMTS radio.The four candidates vying for three open seats on the city council include incumbent Jonathan Rice, Gary Osier, Jay Miller and Jeanette Thompson.Rice, 41, has been a city council member since 2003 and a Rifle resident for 15 years. He has been married to Betsy for 16 years and the couple have three children. Rice is employed as a teacher at Rifle High School and teaches government and world history.Osier, 59, has served on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission for five years and he has been a Rifle resident for 24 years and a Colorado resident for 32 years. He is a retired small trucking operator and worked for the Forest Service for 28 years and served in the Navy for four years.Miller, 69, is retired and a former Air Force pilot and instructional designer. He has lived in Rifle for three years and moved to the city to be near family. He has been a Colorado resident for 52 years.Thompson, 37, has served on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission for the past four years. She is a daycare provider and co-owner/office manager of Thompson Computer Services, LLC. She has lived in Rifle for 14 years.Milhorn posed questions to the candidates on several issues.GrowthRice: “The number one issue facing Rifle is the explosive growth, which has been substantially caused by the energy industry. It’s addressed in our strategic plan. We can’t stop what’s coming, but we certainly can seek to manage it.”Osier: “The number one issue facing Rifle is smart growth and long-term funding. We have to have an idea of what we want Rifle to be.”Miller: “The number one issue facing Rifle is growth. Growth requires that we strengthen a sustainable economic base. Growth demands that we effectively manage our land use, infrastructure, mobility and development while protecting the city’s natural environment. Growth requires that we provide recreational and cultural facilities and activities for all ages and income levels.Thompson: “We need to find ways to bring in a diverse group of businesses. Rifle is looking at growth – how can we control it and what’s coming in.”Oil and gas industryRice: “The strategic plan addresses this. While (the oil and gas industry) has been a boom to Rifle’s economy, it also has presented many challenges to infrastructure, housing and various social issues.”Osier: “My indication from the industry is that it’s going to be here for a long time.”Miller: “In 1981 there was a crash. We have the opportunity to plan for that. But after it stops, we’ll still have 30 percent of the workers here.”Thompson: “We need to keep in mind what kind of town we want Rifle to be – not just an oil and gas town. We are being forced to grow very quickly due to the oil and gas industry. How do we maintain and protect the best qualities of Rifle through this time so we still have a friendly, safe community in ten years?”HousingRice: “This may be the greatest issue facing the city yet. It’s certainly a solvable problem, but a problem that is being addressed and will continue to be addressed.”Osier: “We may actually be able to pull it off as opposed to upvalley who keeps talking about it.”Miller: “There are several projects in the works for affordable housing.”Thompson: “It’s an issue that needs to continue to be addressed.”Vision for RifleRice: “The people in Rifle all over the spectrum in what they want to see in 2025. The population is all over the map on what their vision is for the city.”Miller: “In the year 2025, we share the same small-town values that we have today.”Osier: “I feel the same (as Miller).”Thompson: “My vision is that my kids know Rifle is a place where they can stay.”
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