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Rifle voters decide three council seats, ballot issues

RIFLE – City of Rifle voters have until 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 9, to vote and return mail-in ballots they received earlier this month.

Voters are deciding who will take three available City Council seats and whether to approve three city ballot issues.

All voters should have received their mail-in ballots by Monday, Aug. 25, and can either return them in person or by mail to Rifle City Hall, 202 Railroad Ave., Rifle, CO 81650, by the 7 p.m. Sept. 9 deadline.



Mail-in ballots should be mailed no later than Wednesday, Sept. 3, and should be hand delivered directly to City Hall after that date to make sure they’ll be counted.

Six candidates are vying for the three council seats. Councilmen Joe Clugston and Bill Grant cannot run again due to term limits, and Councilwoman Sue Callies decided to not seek re-election.



RaeAnn Bartels, 54, personnel director at Harry’s Heavy Haulers.

Reason for running: “It’s time to step up to the plate. It’s time to stop complaining and time to take part in my community,” Bartels said.

Bartels is a member of the Rifle planning commission, and said she’s ready to “bring the community back to the council.

“One of the things I can do is listen, and I’ll do that, even if it’s not something I necessarily agree with,” she said.

Bartels said growth and “the way we handle it is going to be tremendous” in Rifle. She also said she doesn’t pretend to know everything, but if she doesn’t know, she’ll research until she does.

“I have the time and the interest to do that,” she said.

Carolyn Bernhardt will turn 58 on Sept. 13, Realtor and co-owner of Century 21 Rifle Brokers LLC.

Reason for running: “I feel the time has come for me to give back to the community that has been my home for 21 years and has provided me with the opportunity to live a very good life. (Rifle) has been a great place to raise my children and a great place to work and reside,” she said.

“Also I am in constant awe of the operation of our democracy. I have cousins living in Ukraine and I have a daughter-in-law from China, and I have traveled fairly extensively. The world over, people marvel at our freedom, but that freedom can only be maintained if enough good people care enough to be involved.”

John Getty, 52, retired from an aerospace engineering career in Southern California.

Reason for running: His No. 1 reason is to “help keep the small town atmosphere” alive in the community.

While Getty said “we need growth to some extent,” he thinks Rifle is facing a critical time where the balance between the city’s economy and its growth has to be carefully monitored.

“I’d like to see more jobs come to town, rather than people having to commute upvalley to Glenwood or Aspen, or downvalley to Grand Junction.” Getty currently serves on Rifle’s planning and zoning commission.

Jeff Johnson, 34, architect.

Reason for running: A member of the Rifle Rotary, Johnson is also a vice chairman of the Rifle Chamber of Commerce economic development committee. He sees his running for City Council as another progression in his interest in civic affairs.

He said one of Rifle’s biggest challenges is to have enough foresight and infrastructure in place to handle the city’s unprecedented growth. He thinks that starts with holding developers accountable by making them give amenities to the city such as affordable housing.

He said he and Carolyn Bernhardt are running together to save on election marketing costs, and because if either one of them is voted onto the council, “we both win,” he said.

Jonathan Rice, 37, Rifle High School civics and world history teacher and football coach.

Reason for running: Rice said he, his wife and their three children have lived in the area for 12 years, and running for a council seat is his way of giving back to his community.

“I feel I have a responsibility, a duty to give back. That’s the main reason,” he said. Rice also said if he’s elected, his involvement with the council would be a way for him as a civics teacher to bring local issues, local government and local politics to his classroom.

Sandy Vaccaro, 55, Rifle Middle School social studies teacher.

Reason for running: “I’ve always loved politics and government,” Vaccaro says. He served as chairman of the Rifle Metro Park District in the 1980s and on Rifle City Council from 1993-97, but didn’t run for re-election since his children were still at home and he wanted to spend more time with his family. Now that his youngest daughter is a high school senior, he’s ready to get back into local government.

“With the new housing starts, big-box retail and growth, it’s an exciting time in Rifle,” he says, “and it’s fulfilling to be part of government.”

Vaccaro says he plans to take his experiences on the council back to his students. “It’s a great way to expose them to local government,” Vaccaro says. “They learn they have a voice.”

Bond issue: The Rifle City Council is asking for voter approval to sell $4.1 million in bonds to help pay for street projects throughout Rifle. The money will also fund construction of three roundabouts near Rifle’s main Interstate 70 interchanges.

City of Rifle finance director Nancy Black says the bonds will be repaid from future sales tax receipts.

“We’re not increasing taxes,” she explains. “The bonds will be repaid as we receive sales tax money as a result of Rifle’s increased commercial growth.”

If approved, two roundabouts will be situated at each of the I-70 on- and off-ramps on Taughenbaugh Boulevard.

A third roundabout, at Airport Road and Taughenbaugh Boulevard, will connect the Grand River Medical Center, Rifle’s industrial center, the new Super Wal-Mart store and adjacent commercial developments currently under construction.

Rifle city manager Selby Myers said the roundabouts are critical to the proper flow of traffic in south Rifle. Without them, he said, traffic will get so clogged, motorists won’t be able to get through.

Other road improvement projects funded by the bond issue are curb, gutter and sidewalk work near Wamsley Elementary School, Deerfield Park and other north Rifle streets. Anvil View and Whiteriver Avenue roads will also be improved.

Electricity franchise: Voters will decide whether to renew Xcel Energy’s contract with the city, which has held a franchise in Rifle for the past 20 years.

Charter amendment: Voting will decide whether to approve a city charter amendment that will allow City Council to pass emergency ordinances with only one reading and publication. Currently, five days must pass before emergency ordinances passed by council go into effect.

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

cclick@postindependent.com


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