Rifle Republican Mike Samson: It’s time to run
RIFLE – More than 60 people showed up at the Rifle Fire Station Tuesday night, where Republican Mike Samson of Rifle officially announced his candidacy as a Garfield County Commissioner for District 3.The District 3 seat is currently held by Republican Larry McCown, who is not seeking re-election after 12 years as a commissioner.Samson, 53, thanked the crowd, which included some notable Republican party members including McCown, former commissioner Arnold Mackley, former district attorney and chairman of the Republican committee Milt Blakey, committee member Becky Rippy and Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario. “I am excited about all this,” Samson told the crowd. “This is an undertaking that perhaps all my life I have dreamed about. I’ve done a lot of thinking and praying about this, and I feel good about it.”First to announceSamson is currently the only Republican candidate for the District 3 commissioner seat. Republican Phil Vaughan, chair of the county Planning and Zoning Commission had expressed some interest in running, but said Tuesday night that he will not and is fully supportive of Samson.”Mike is going to make a great commissioner,” Vaughan said.For the past 25 years, Samson has worked for the Garfield County School District Re-2 teaching American government and social studies and has been the dean of students for the past four years.Voters will elect two commissioners in the November 2008 election.A 1972 graduate of Rifle High School, Samson was born in Glenwood Springs and has lived in the Roaring Fork Valley all of his life. He graduated from Brigham Young University in 1979 with a bachelor of arts in political science.Community involvement is not strange to Samson. He served two years on the Metro Park board, was president of the teachers’ West Garfield Education Association for two years and has taught political science at Colorado Mountain College for 20 years.He was on the Rifle City Council for four years from 1979 to 1983 – two of those years as mayor pro tem and experienced the oil shale boom and bust period.Reasons behind the decisionSamson said he’s running for many different reasons, including the fact that people have asked him to, as well as his political background. “A lot of people have asked, ‘Why in the world would you want to do this? Are you nuts?'” Samson said with a smile. “But I want the opportunity to serve. To best sum it up, I love the United States of America. This nation is the greatest nation on the face of the earth. I love Garfield County. I’ve lived here all my life and I think it’s a great place.” Besides the obvious oil and gas issues that face Western Garfield County, Samson has other ideas of what he would like to see, if elected.”Everybody always wants to talk about gas, but one of the biggest planks in my platform is that I’d like to see the commissioners work together, and I’d like to see the community help the county and the county help the community,” he said. “I’d like to see us working together.”Another goal is forming a task force to figure out how to foster other businesses and growth in the county.”We’ve got some of the brightest and best people from this county together in all facets of life,” Samson said. “When the gas is done, let’s not have another Black Sunday. Let’s diversify. We’re in some good times right now, but we need to think about the future.”Samson is father to seven children, one deceased, and said his wife, Janet, and his kids are fully supportive of his decision to run for county commissioner.”I promise to listen to you,” Samson said in closing. “People need to listen that are in public office. I know you can’t make everyone happy, but I have a willingness to work and a willingness to do a good job.”Two seats open in 2008There have been no other formal announcements of any Republican candidates running for McCown’s seat. Democrat Steve Carter, 62, of Rifle, a longtime county judge who retired in 2004, has said he is “seriously considering” running for the District 3 seat. Rifle Mayor Keith Lambert, also a Democrat, who ran unsuccessfully again McCown four years ago, said it is not likely he will run. and encouraged Carter whom he called an “excellent candidate” with a “long history in the county and the community.”Republican Commissioner John Martin’s seat will also come open and Martin intends to seek re-election. Possible challengers who have expressed an interest in running include Silt Mayor Dave Moore and former Glenwood Springs councilor, Greg Jeung. Jeung was defeated by Martin in the 2004 election.Voters will decide on the two commissioner seats at the general election in November 2008.
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