Samson faces Briedis for the BOCC District 3 seat
The campaign season for the Nov. 6, 2012, election is here, and the Post Independent wants to make sure readers and voters have plenty of information before casting their vote.This month we are publishing question and answer articles with candidates for U.S. Congress, the state Legislature, University of Colorado Regent, Ninth District Attorney and the Garfield Board of County Commissioners, as well informative articles about the Garfield Legacy and Rifle sales tax ballot questions.Today we present interviews with the two candidates for Garfield County commissioner District 3, incumbent Mike Samson, a Republican, and challenger Aleks Briedis, a Democrat.Commissioner District 3 runs from between Silt and Rifle west to the Utah border, but voters in the whole county can cast a vote in this race.On Wednesday, the Post Independent published interviews with the two candidates for Garfield County commissioner District 2, incumbent John Martin, a Republican, and challenger Sonja Linman, a Democrat. In early October, readers will hear again from candidates and issues campaigns when they speak directly to voters in opinion columns. And later in October, the Post Independent Editorial Board will publish its endorsements of candidates and ballot questions.The last day to register to vote is Tuesday, Oct. 9.For dates of upcoming local election forums, watch the calendar on page 4.For an archive of these stories, coverage of campaign forums and other election issues on the local, state and national level, please visit http://www.postindependent.com>News>Elections.
Q. What’s your opinion on the new and continuing revisions to loosen regulations in the Garfield County land-use code?A. After many concerns addressed by various citizens on the present code, we employed Clarion & Associates to facilitate the revision of the code. With this as a starting point, Winston and Associates was employed to advise the new Land-Use Advisory Committee to complete proposed changes. They have and are continuing to simplify, clarify and make more user-friendly our obligations to the general health, safety, and welfare within the code. This is a good thing. Citizen input has been garnered and encouraged at every step. Q. What’s the proper role for county government regarding oil and gas oversight? A. County government needs to oversee the continuation of robust and effective dialog through our local government designee, Kirby Wynn, as well as the Energy Advisory Board. We need continued effective communication with citizens to exercise our control that is allowed by state government through our land use powers. At the present time, many lawsuits are being filed with certain counties and municipalities against the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). It will be interesting as to what will be the final decisions. I would like to see counties, municipalities and the state work together for an amicable solution and not fight it out in the court system.Q. What’s your position on the recent county resolution regarding oil shale development policy on public lands?A. I moved to rescind the resolution because I felt it was in the best interest of the county. All four northwestern Colorado counties are blessed with oil shale, which may someday be a great developed resource. I would like for the federal government to work with us on these endeavors, and not against us, to develop this resource.Q. What are some ways county government can help facilitate economic development in the county and its local communities?A. We need to continue to meet on a regular basis with all municipal governments, quarterly town hall meetings, and mayors’ forums. We will have the imminent hiring of a community development coordinator. It is our goal that this position will greatly enhance new business and industry coming into the county as well as helping establish businesses. We have given direct funds to support economic development in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Rifle. We have also granted millions of dollars to all municipalities for infrastructure improvements, including the Parachute interchange, and Rifle, Silt and Glenwood Springs infrastructure.Q. Identify two other key issues facing Garfield County that you would focus on in the coming four years.A. Although already addressed in the previous question, of prime importance to all of us is a continuation to focus on a strong economic development strategy. This will remain a prime goal until our economy recovers. I truly would like to see a diversification of our economic base within the county.We need to continue with a long-term strategic plan for the county in which we upgrade capital needs, modernize investments, maintain an annual balanced county budget, pay down debts, and of course, continued civility and cooperation with municipal governments.
Q. What’s your opinion on the new and continuing revisions to loosen regulations in the Garfield County land-use code?A. Land-use codes should be created to balance all interests, residents and businesses, with a priority on health, safety and the environment as part of the equation for creating and implementing public policy. This includes the use of environment, economy and social impact in the equation of a comprehensive plan that strives to balance, not compromise, all interests within the county. The recent decision to allow an industrial asphalt crushing facility to be located next to an organic farm places the burden of impact on the farm, not the asphalt company. As such, the compromise is on one industry, and isn’t an example of balance. Q. What’s the proper role for county government regarding oil and gas oversight?A. The oil and gas industry is an important part of our county’s economy. But, we need strong local land-use codes to ensure the mineral extraction industry does not adversely affect other important economic activities, like ranching and tourism, or our overall quality of life. The county’s job is to balance the interests of industry with the health, safety and property rights of Garfield County residents and business owners. Strong local rules help support the state regulations, and should be used to protect our way of life, while supporting responsible energy development in Garfield County.Q. What’s your position on the recent county resolution regarding oil shale development policy on public lands?A. I supported the recent decision by the commissioners to rescind the industry-created resolution presented publicly last April. It was unfortunate that it took a lawsuit by concerned citizens to remind the commissioners that public business should be conducted with the public, and not behind closed doors. Our elected officials need to be held accountable for important decisions that affect our health, safety and environment for current and future generations to ensure a balanced approach to economic development and quality of life.Q. What are some ways county government can help facilitate economic development in the county and its local communities?A. Garfield County has a large surplus in its budget – close to $100 million – that can be used to promote economic development in a variety of activities. These include promoting smart energy policies and efficiency upgrades; investing in some of the recreational amenities that make our county a destination, such as our rodeo facilities and public trails; looking for ways to support our agriculture, both ranching and farming; and making infrastructure investments that set us up for future growth. Q. Identify two other key issues facing Garfield County that you would focus on in the coming four years.A. Our community doesn’t have to sacrifice the health and welfare of residents, or the environment, to have a robust economy. I’ll focus on creating an inventory list of current businesses, fill gaps to support existing businesses, and help to diversify our tax base by attracting new sustainable employers based on emerging economic drivers. Our codes and policies must ensure clean healthy waters and air to secure future economic growth and support existing industries like fishing, rafting, hunting and sustainable agriculture for current and future generations. It’s time to include environmental and economic impacts in land-use policy. Building community includes prioritizing the quality of life for county residents with services and programs that serve all with a transparent and accountable government.
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