Silt mayor candidates optimistic on grocery store for town
Silt Board of Trustees race
Read what the nine candidates vying for four Silt trustee seats had to talk about at the Wednesday forum.
In what has become Garfield County’s most contested race this spring, Silt residents gathered at town hall Wednesday night to hear from the three candidates vying to be the town’s next mayor, and nine candidates for four trustee seats on the town board.
With elections less than a month away, mayoral candidates Keith Richel, current Trustee Bryan Fleming and Jay Barner answered questions and spoke to the issues most important to residents today, touching on everything from marijuana retail to government transparency.
“Everybody here cares about the town dearly,” Barner told the crowd.
He added he was running because when he went before town council in the past, he did not feel he was given any respect. He said he is running so that the Silt Board of Trustees knows to listen to everybody.
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He wants to the board be a lot more open about what they do.
“I’ve been on the board for six years, and I feel during those six years that I have been the voice of the citizens of the town,” Keith Richel said in his introduction. “Now I am running for mayor hoping to return the control of Silt back to its citizens.”
Richel said he wants the town to be safe for citizens, a town board and staff that realize they work for the citizens and smart development of Silt starting with housing. He felt Silt could be the perfect place to start affordable housing with tiny homes.
“I’m running for mayor to continue the work we started eight years ago,” said Bryan Fleming, who has been on the Silt Board of Trustees for eight years.
Fleming said his top three priorities are economic development, growth of the town and continuing to make Silt a beautiful place to live through sidewalks, roads and flowers downtown.
With municipal elections set for April 3, the candidates spoke for about an hour in front of a packed crowd at Town Hall. While each candidate discussed their top priorities and big picture topics during the hour-long discussion, they were also asked directly if they think residents of Silt will ever get a grocery store in town.
“We have to be willing to ask them to come in,” Barner replied. “It’s tough right now, three grocery stores within seven miles of town. Until we can generate the numbers to make it worth it … I don’t think we will see a grocery store here.”
“Yes, we will,” Fleming responded back.
He said the town has had at least two interested parties in the last six years, but that it will take the right store.
“I want it to happen, but I think everybody in this room is used to going seven miles for groceries,” Richel answered. “Have to do housing development to get a grocery store here.”
The mayoral candidates also shared their thoughts on retail marijuana.
“Any business that wants to come to town, I’m all for,” Fleming said.
Richel agreed that Silt is open for business to any businesses that want to come, but stressed importance of placing businesses in the right location in town.
“There’s opportunity to grow, but we have to be smart about it,” Barner said.
Richel also stressed that he would like to see better transparency from the Silt Board of Trustees in the future.
“We have had several meetings in private as a board on issues that could have been spoken about publicly,” Richel added.
“There will be changes in Silt if I’m mayor,” he concluded.
Barner agreed that Silt needs to be more open and wants to be mayor because he will listen to the people and hear their ideas.
“I’m very optimistic for the direction of this town,” Fleming said. “It’s been a pleasure to serve eight years, and I would love to continue for the next four.”
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Scott Ely founded Sunsense Solar 30 years and initially operated as a one-man crew. His focus was installing solar electric systems on backwoods cabins off the grid. Now the company’s work includes some of the biggest solar farms in the region.