7 candidates file to run for city council
Rifle residents could have as many as seven choices when the time comes to vote on four open seats for city council this fall.
Petitions from the hopeful candidates trickled in throughout the day leading up to the 5 p.m. deadline Monday. City Clerk Lisa Hamilton is in the process of validating petition signatures with those on county voter rolls. Candidates will have until July 7 to amend or replace signatures. Ballots will be mailed Aug. 17-24, and must be returned by 7 p.m. Sept. 8.
The top four vote getters will fill four at-large seats, three of which are four-year terms and the fourth, which will go to the candidate in the top four with the least votes, is a two-year term.
Joe Elliott, who was appointed to council in September 2014, is the only incumbent running in the election. The rest of the initial candidates have varying experience and different backgrounds.
For Aaron Flesch, filing the petition was the closest he has come to serving on a government body. The father of two and owner of Aaron’s Heating and Cooling said, as did others, that he was initially approached by several people, in this case other local business owners, asking him to run. The more he thought about it, the more he started to consider it.
“I just have a desire to get involved in the process rather than being on the sideline and getting discouraged with government and politics in general,” he said.
Brent Buss, owner of Thrifty Thrill Thrift Store in Glenwood Springs and Rifle, also decided to enter the race without much prior experience. Bus currently serves as the Rifle citizen representative on the Garfield County Energy Advisory Board. As a business owner, Buss said he hopes to make Rifle more business friendly, if elected to council.
Other candidates, while having never served on city council, have spent countless hours observing city government in former roles.
As a former reporter and editor at The Citizen Telegram, Theresa Hamilton covered city council meetings for years. Hamilton, who now works as director of districtwide services for Garfield Re-2 School District, said she grew to miss having first-hand knowledge of what was going on in the city. She considered running in the past several elections.
“It’s a great way to give back to a community that has given me so much,” Hamilton said, adding that she is not coming into the race with an agenda.
Similarly, Annick Pruett considered running for council after leaving her position as president and CEO of the Rifle Chamber of Commerce four years ago, but the timing was not right. Pruett now works as the administrative director of community relations at Grand River Health.
With so much experience leaving council later this year — the three incumbents not running will have a total of 24 years on council when their terms expire in the fall — she said the time was right.
“There’s a lot of veteran members leaving and I have a history. I’m not coming into this completely blind,” Pruett said in reference to her previous work with the chamber. “Institutional memory I think is important, and knowledge of institutional history.”
Experience was one of the factors that ultimately led Ed Green to file a petition. Green worked as Garfield County manager for a little more than 13 years before taking the job as village manager in North Palm Beach, Florida, which he retired from in 2014 and moved back to Rifle.
With more than two decades of managerial experience, Green said he believes he can help strengthen the financial health of the city.
For Dana Wood, director of LiveWell Garfield County, the chance to join city council represents an opportunity to become involved at a deeper level. Wood serves on the Rifle Planning and Zoning Commission, the Rifle Farmers Market board and the Rifle Animal Shelter development committee.
“I love where I live and I really want to make this community the best place it can possibly be,” she said.
By most accounts, the field is larger than expected, and that is a good thing, Elliot said.
“It means people want to be involved,” he added.
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