Silt town board candidates speak up on hot topics
Ballots for Garfield County’s municipal elections are being mailed out this week in Silt, New Castle and Carbondale. Silt voters will have their pick between three candidates for mayor and nine candidates for four Board of Trustees seats.
This week the Post Independent will profile and pose questions to each of the candidates vying for what has become the county’s most heated race this spring.
Today, see profiles and expanded responses to some key questions from the nine trustee candidates: Samantha Alexander, Mark Anderson, Justin Brintnall, Chris Classen, Bobby Hays, Kyle Knott, Jerry Seifert, T.J. Tucker and Alan White. Yesterday, we featured the three mayor candidates.
The trustee candidates are vying for seats now held by incumbents Bryan Fleming, Alan White, Aron Diaz and Justin Brintnall. Silt Board of Trustees members serve four-year terms.
Question 1: I heard a lot about accountability and transparency, openness and honesty at the election forum: Why do you think this became such a big issue for candidates and many residents, and how will you look to address it as trustee?
Question 2: Grocery store was another big topic at the forum: Is that something you will continue to be proactive in looking to bring to Silt?
Question 3: I wrote a few weeks back about Silt’s strong sales tax numbers for 2017: How will you look to continue that in 2018 and beyond?
Accountability: “I think in the past, the board has made decisions regardless of what citizens wanted, and that shouldn’t be how elected officials work,” she said.
Alexander wants to see more honesty and transparency from the board and “more than just three-word explanations” on why they voted the way they did. She said she will look to be more accessible to residents.
Grocery store: “I would like to have a lot of conversations over what types of businesses to bring to Silt,” she said, but added that she doesn’t want to bring in businesses that won’t be successful.
Business support: Alexander wants to continue working with existing businesses in town.
“Partnership with the chamber is a step in the right direction,” she added. “Networking and communication needs to continue with all the businesses that love to be here.”
Accountability: “From a citizen perspective I was totally unsatisfied with how they treated the past chief of police,” he said.
He mentioned how former chief Levy Burris, who left the department in September, built the Silt Police Department and was very active in the community.
“There wasn’t any explanation, and I feel the citizens are due an explanation,” he added. “It was never addressed properly in my estimation.”
Grocery store: “We have talked about a grocery store forever, but I don’t think it is economically viable anytime soon,” he said.
He added that since a lot of people work up valley, he doesn’t think Silt could support a grocery store.
“Yeah it would be convenient, but I don’t think Silt has the sustainable community to support a grocery store,” he added.
Business support: “I would like to see more a more sustainable economy,” he said.
Anderson referenced how his water, sewer and trash bills have all gone up 400 percent in the last 28 years, and he worries the country is headed for another economic downturn.
Accountability: “Every time there has been an executive session it has been for legal advice, and I have felt that they have been necessary every time,” he said.
He said transparency has become an issue for some, but there are just times when the information cannot be shared to the public.
“I don’t feel that there have been any unnecessary executive sessions,” he said.
Grocery store: “Town is open and working for the right grocer,” he said.
He said he wants to see the town work with them as far as tax breaks and infrastructure.
He added there is open property for a grocer and developer to come.
Business support: “We will continue to support local businesses that are doing well,” he said.
He wants to work toward welcoming new businesses to town.
Accountability: “For whatever reason it turned into a big issue, and I think a lot of it stems from a perception that people are doing things behind the scenes,” he said.
Accountability is essential in dealing with taxpayers’ money, he added.
He referenced the fact that there have been a lot of meetings in executive sessions, and he would like to reduce the amount of executive sessions.
Grocery store: “Yes, I will,” he said. “I understand it is a tough sell for Silt. One seven miles in each direction.”
He said Silt will have to provide plenty of incentive to bring in a store, but believes there are enough people in the Silt area to support it.
Business support: “I would like to continue on the same path the current board is going toward,” he said. “Any business that could contribute to town, I would be for.”
Accountability: Hays said that transparency became an issue because of all the public meetings that kept going into executive session, but added that sometimes on board you have to deal with personnel issues.
He said that the public may have wanted to know, but it wasn’t appropriate to give out that kind of information.
“It may have been an aggravation at the time, but I’m not looking to change anything,” he added.
Grocery store: Hays’ three goals are to see a grocery store, bank and middle school for Silt.
“All three will require a lot more activity from people,” he said.
He added that the school will be the hardest and the grocery and bank will depend on private industry.
Business support: He said that he wants to push for local business.
He added that part of the job is to diversify the town’s economy, but he will not look to bring in additional marijuana businesses.
Accountability: “I believe it’s become an issue because of a large communication barrier between Town Hall and the citizens,” he said.
He explained that at a previous board meeting he attended, the board members didn’t seem to care, and “our concerns were completely ignored.”
He felt that executive sessions were taking place “so people can’t see or hear what’s being discussed.”
“I advocate to discuss everything about the town in an open forum, unless it must be in private,” he said.
Grocery store: “Yes,” he said. “I support a grocery store in Silt and will proactively work to make that happen.”
Business support: “We have a wonderful community here, and I believe many different types of businesses will thrive here,” he said. “I will be an advocate to make it easier and welcoming for businesses to come here — whether through zoning changes, infrastructure help, sales tax, etc. However, I do not support any additional marijuana licenses to be issued.”
Accountability: “There is a disconnect between the higher-ups in town,” he said. Seifert said there could be better communication between the trustees, town staff and public.
“One of my main goals is to hold town accountable,” he said. “I know this is problem we need to fix.”
Grocery store: “At this time I am not pushing for a grocery store,” he said. “I don’t know if the town could sustain a grocery store at this time, until we got more people in town and get some sales tax estimates.”
Business support: Seifert said that it would be nice to see the town get more restaurants, and particularly a breakfast spot somewhere downtown.
“I’m looking to push for a breakfast spot in town,” he said.
Accountability: “All you have to do is talk to a handful of citizens about what they think about Silt and you’ll get a mixed bag of corruption and shady dealings,” he said. “Main thing we want to focus on is to get the citizens back to being proud of Silt.”
Tucker said he wants to bring customer service back to Town Hall and remind the citizens and town staff that town hall works for them.
He said he left the board in 2017 because he felt it was “biased and broken” and said he would only go to executive session if required by law.
Grocery store: “100 percent,” he said. “We need to give the citizens what they are asking for, and they want a grocery store.”
Business support: “A grocery store would provide an immediate boost,” he said. After that, he said a bank should follow, which would really boost the town’s economy.
“When people stay in town where they don’t have to leave, more tax dollars stay,” he added.
Accountability: “There are a lot of residents that still believe that the “Good ol-boy’s club still exists,” White said, and that leads to a perception that issues before the board are decided behind closed doors.
“I haven’t been a board member for very long, and so far, I haven’t seen this as being true,” he said.
“As elected officials, we must conduct ourselves like jurors in a court room, only use information provided, and strike from the record anything that is not admissible,” he added.
Grocery store: “The grocery store is a stepping stone, but it is also a huge anchor business,” he said. “While I personally don’t care either way, it would be nice to have the convenience.”
He added that in addition to the gained sales tax revenue from a grocery, the extra revenue from other collateral purchases must be equated as well.
“It’s not so much about the grocery store, as what it can help us accomplish in the long run,” he said.
Business support: “I’m not certain where the large increase in sales tax came from to be honest; I would imagine the Grand Avenue bridge closure helped with that,” he said.
“The best we can do to try and maintain that same level, or increase our sales tax revenue is to continue working with our local businesses.”
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