Walt Stowe for County Commissioner
Garfield County is rich in quality candidates for public office this election year, no more so than in the race for the District 1 County Commissioner’s seat.One-term incumbent Walt Stowe, a Republican and Glenwood Springs businessman, faces a challenge from Trsi Houpt, a Glenwood Springs Democrat, nonprofit agency manager and member of the Roaring Fork Re-1 School Board.Either of these candidates would make a fine county commissioner, but our endorsement goes to Stowe, in spite of sharp disagreement with him over the recent Prehm Ranch right of way decision.In his previous four years in office, Stowe emerged as a thoughtful and moderate leader. He broke the deadlock over where to build the county jail, supported the county’s appeal of a 20-acre gas well spacing proposal, and worked to reinstate the library sales tax allocation, improve the county airport and fairgrounds, move and expand county offices in Rifle and consolidate road and bridge and social services functions.His was the lone vote in favor of Garfield County joining the preliminary Rural Transportation Authority, a move that would have given county voters a chance to decide for themselves whether to join the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.He cheerfully took on the board work of his predecessor, Marian Smith, serving the Healthy Beginnings prenatal program and the Rural Resort Region, a coalition of five mountain counties.We were not convinced, however, by Stowe’s explanation of his vote to vacate a valuable and viable county right of way to the developers of the upscale Prehm Ranch subdivision.Houpt, meanwhile, has proven herself to be a passionate advocate for education during her two terms on the school board, and a leader in the statewide Colorado Association of School Boards.She comes down on the right side of important issues facing the county: getting on board with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, improving relations with towns and cities, stronger county oversight of gas drilling, a move toward cluster zoning for development of rural land, and protection of natural resources.We believe Houpt would bring a progressive viewpoint to the board of county commissioners. But her platform was not as well-defined as we would expect, and she could have proven herself more familiar with the internal operations of the county. She did not make a sufficiently strong case for her candidacy, or instill confidence that she could convert her progressive views into a majority vote on issues.In balance, we believe Stowe is the better of two good candidates to serve as the District 1 commissioner for the coming four years.He is intelligent, approachable and responsive.While we endorse Stowe, we also call on him to step it up a notch and do a better job as a county leader in the next four years in these specific areas:-Developing better relations with the councils, trustees and staff in the county’s towns and cities.-Recognizing the value in joining and providing sales tax revenues to the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.-Showing strong positive interest in recycling as a critical component in solid waste management.-Committing to provide a half-time local government designee to oversee gas drilling and taking a stand to make gas industry members the minority, not the majority, on the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.-Taking a more aggressive role in protecting county assets.-Standing up to developers who view Garfield County as an easy hit.- Post Independent Editorial BoardMembers of the Post Independent Editorial Board are Publisher Valerie Smith, Managing Editor Heather McGregor and News Editor Dennis Webb.
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