Meet the candidates for Rifle City Council | PostIndependent.com

Meet the candidates for Rifle City Council

Helen Artist-Rogers

How long have you lived in Rifle and what made you want to run for City Council?

I’ve been a resident of Rifle collectively for 23 years, first moving to Rifle in 1984 and again in 2004. I lived on the Front Range in between and witnessed a tremendous amount of growth and how it can effect small towns. I am a small business owner of HR Interior Design, and have worked on commercial and residential projects from Edwards to Grand Junction during the past 13 years. My office and my home are in downtown Rifle.

I have been on the Planning and Zoning Commission for 12 years, and a part-time manager for the Rifle Downtown Development Authority for 12 years. I’ve had the honor of being involved with the renovation of the Ute Theatre and seeing it become an economic driver and increase visitors to our downtown. I was involved in helping to create the 2.5 percent lodging tax, which is the funding mechanism for the Visitor Improvement Fund, and served on the board.

While on the VIF board, I helped bring better public access to the Colorado River by helping to build a new, safer boat ramp. I’ve been involved with the Rifle Farmers Market for 10 years and I am presently chair. I’m also co-chair of Lower Valley Trails Group, who’s mission is to construct a trail along the Colorado River to Mesa County.

I decided to run for a council seat because I come with experience of working with governmental entities and know how daunting and long it can take to get things done. While some would find this frustrating, I find it challenging.

Where would you like to see Rifle improve?

I would like to see better transparency between government and its citizens and work for better ways of communicating. This includes working with Garfield County in better ways. Rifle has a good reputation throughout the state as a community that’s progressive, easy to work with and able to get things done. I’d like for that to continue. We can improve on first impressions by creating better entrances from the north and south ends of town.

What will you focus on if elected?

We need to hire a city manager who listens to the citizens of Rifle and is able to work well with others with proven leadership skills. Smart growth in Rifle’s sphere of influence is important in planning developments which are connected so infrastructure is not as costly. I would work to continue to improve Rifle’s walkability to schools and parks by improving sidewalks and increasing trails.

At the candidate forum, each of you said that you would support the bond initiative involving the construction of a new E. Dene Moore Care Center as well as support the construction of a new pool. What about these projects appealed to you and why do you think it is important for Rifle to invest in projects like these?

Taking care of our seniors is one of the most important societal goals we can have. Having them close and accessible toward the end of their lives to family and friends addresses quality of life issues. We don’t want to have to drive 60-100 miles or more to see them. We need to improve the facility and be able to have beds available to accommodate health-care needs in a state-of-the-art facility.

The Rifle Parks and Recreation Advisory Board along with staff have been working hard to come up with a solution to keep the pool open for our use. The existing pool is antiquated and difficult to find replacement parts for. Using the existing penny sales tax to fund the new facility and not raise taxes is a good thing. I would eventually like to see a year-round facility, but know it might take several years to achieve that.

Over the years planning meetings have revealed that residents in the area would like to see more trails built in Rifle. How will you prioritize trails and bringing recreational activities to town if elected?

When I first moved to Rifle in 1984, the emphasis on trail building and walkability was not high on the priority list. Most people went everywhere in their pick-ups. Now, the desirability to be able to walk most places is high. People move to a town because of those amenities. The city has a Bicycle Master Plan. It needs to be funded and implemented even if it has to be phased.

How will you ensure that Rifle Western Adventure Weekend becomes the hallmark September event for Garfield County for years to come?

The Western Adventure Weekend is one of four special events which the Visitor Improvement Fund is helping to fund. Hometown Holidays, Rifle Rendezvous and the Garfield County Fair are the other three. Participation from the public is key. The planning committee has been hard at work to provide activities for all ages, from the music at the Ute on Friday night to kids activities on Third Street on Saturday, arts and craft vendors, a mountain bike race, a gun show at the fairgrounds, and the tribute band Get Out the Led on Saturday night on Third Street. I will be volunteering in several capacities.

Joe Carpenter

How long have you lived in Rifle and what made you want to run for City Council?

In 1973 I went to work for my dad, Joe Carpenter Sr., at his auto parts store in Rifle. I was 25 years old, a U.S. Navy veteran, and had attended Mesa State College in Grand Junction. In 1978, I was hired as executive vice president and manager of Rifle Industrial Bank (I had prior experience with Nationwide Financial Corp.). In 1982, I started Joe R. Carpenter Insurance Agency, which I operated until 2013 when I sold it back to Farmers Insurance Group. As a side endeavor I also was the Garfield County veterans service officer from 1999 till retiring in January 2017. Since 2008, I have been director of Vet-Trans, a nonprofit helping veterans in western Garfield County.

I was approached by several community leaders to run for City Council earlier this summer.

Where would you like to see Rifle improve?

I think Rifle needs to diversify our employment base. We have the workforce and access to the interstate, our county airport and the railroad. I would like to see some light manufacturing, possibly.

What will you focus on if elected?

I also think we should try to promote our valley as a place to retire. A lot of baby boomers are looking for a place with recreation, medical facilities and a reasonable cost of living to retire in. We could partner with other valley communities and let some of these retirees know about our area.

At the candidate forum, each of you said that you would support the bond initiative involving the construction of a new E. Dene Moore Care Center as well as support the construction of a new pool. What about these projects appealed to you and why do you think it is important for Rifle to invest in projects like these?

E. Dene Moore is pretty much used up. It needs to be replaced. If you have ever visited someone there, then you know. It’s a valuable part of our community and is just worn out. The same goes for the pool. The pool is a real focal point for young families and the older folks, as well. Both the pool and E. Dene Moore are in poor shape and just need replacing. We need places like these to serve the area, anyone who has been by the pool in the summer can’t help but notice how much use it gets, from older folks in the mornings to young families in the afternoon.

Over the years planning meetings have revealed that residents in the area would like to see more trails built in Rifle. How will you prioritize trails and bringing recreational activities to town if elected?

The city has made great strides in its trail system. I use it quite often. Adding more trails will only enhance our town. It’s a drawing point, an asset.

I also think that our downtown core area is important. We have to make it easy to do business in town, make sure it’s an attractive vibrant area. I think the same goes for the whole town as far as appearance goes. We need to put our best foot forward. People just don’t want to come to a town that appears to be on a downhill course. We have a very attractive business district, we just need to ensure it stays that way. I have a lot of experience garnered over the years and thought perhaps I could help the town that provided a great place to make a living and raise my four children.

Barbara Clifton

How long have you lived in Rifle and what made you want to run for City Council?

I have lived and worked as an attorney in Rifle for 15 years. My family includes my husband, Patrick Burwell, and daughters Erin and Kayla. I am currently on the board of directors for several nonprofits, including Rifle Community Foundation and Rifle Animal Shelter. I am running for a second term on City Council because I would like to continue Rifle’s tradition of working cooperatively with other governments and being creative in funding new projects that would otherwise not fit in the budget.

In what areas would you like to see Rifle improve?

I would like to see Rifle improve on its economic diversity. Rifle has made significant improvements in the last several years in diversifying its economic base with the Center of Excellence for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting and with tourism from acts at the Ute Theatre and signature events such as Hometown Holidays, Garfield County Fair, Western Adventure Weekend, etc. Rifle must continue to focus on economic diversity that is feasible and makes sense in the current business climate.

What will you focus on if elected?

If re-elected, I would like to focus on three priorities: 1) public health and safety, which are the principal duties of any city council; 2) economic diversity; 3) communication with Rifle’s citizens.

At the candidate forum, each of you said that you would support the bond initiative involving the construction of a new E. Dene Moore Care Center as well as support the construction of a new pool. Why do you think it is important for Rifle to invest in projects like these?

I support the ballot question which gives the city the authority to incur debt without any new taxes for the new pool construction. The existing pool is a recreational activity for a large number of children and adults. It adds to the economic diversity of the city, but can be paid for by existing city revenues without any increase in taxes.

I also support Grand River Hospital District’s ballot question, which would provide funds to rebuild the E. Dene Moore Care Center and add some additional space to the hospital. The care center has exceeded its useful life. Both the care center and the hospital offer the ability for citizens to receive excellent care locally. Grand River Hospital District is a major economic driver for the community and has demonstrated responsible use of their finances.

Over the years planning meetings have shown that residents would like to see more trails built in Rifle. How you will prioritize trails and bringing recreational activities to town if elected?

Recreational activities are incredibly important in making Rifle a great place to live and work. While I certainly want to see more trails, parks and recreational activities in Rifle, the city must keep the costs (both construction and maintenance) within budget. The city has been incredibly creative in the past to fund these types of projects with grants and donations and I hope to continue that focus.

How will you ensure that Rifle Western Adventure Weekend becomes the hallmark September event for Garfield County for years to come?

Rifle’s Western Adventure Weekend is Sept. 22-24 and includes a concert at the Ute Theatre, a block party on Third Street, a bike race, a 5K race, and all-sports swap meet and gun show at the Garfield County Fairgrounds. An outdoor concert by Get the Led Out, a Led Zeppelin tribute band, will headline the event.

Personally, I will be attending many of the events using opportunities such as this to encourage people to come experience Rifle and its Western Adventure Weekend.

Sean Strode

​​How long have you lived in Rifle and what made you want to run for City Council?

​I’ve been in Rifle for about six years. During that time I’ve been on numerous community boards and involved in the community as much as possible. ​Rifle was the first place I lived that taught me what the meaning of the word community meant. I feel it’s important to give back to the community that you live in. I feel personally invested in Rifle and want to make Rifle the best it can be.

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In what areas would you like to see Rifle improve?

​Rifle will grow in the next 10 years, and I’m interested in approaching this inevitable change as well-prepared as possible. Rifle has a master plan in place and we can always improve incorporating that, as well as evolving the master plan when it no longer meets the needs of Rifle residents. I want the growth we see to be an asset to the community, not more of a strain. ​I’d also like to see Rifle improve its basic infrastructure, including streets, sidewalks and water/sewer.

​​What will you focus on if elected?

My first area of focus is what the citizens of Rifle want. As an elected official, we are vowing to make decisions based on the needs and wants of our community. Personally, my core areas of focus will always be infrastructure, public safety and small/local business growth. I feel these are the cornerstones of any small community.

​​At the candidate forum, each of you said that you would support the bond initiative involving the construction of a new E. Dene Moore Care Center as well as support the construction of a new pool. Why do you think it is important for Rifle to invest in projects like these?

Part of what I would like to do as a city councilor is to look at aging infrastructure and necessary community amenities for the next 10-30 years. This scope can entail only physical facilities owned by Rifle, or in addition to city owned property if it has a strong community relationship. The past few years have shown us how important it is to plan ahead.

The E. Dene Moore Care Center and Art Dague pool are nearing the point of failure. I want to make a strong effort to look at these infrastructure options and work with community entities to formulate a plan, not figure out a last-minute fix. While I have reservations about financial burdens on the citizens of Rifle with the hospital bond initiative, I also feel we need to support our senior citizens and offer support for the hospital district. Grand River Hospital District has been an important part of our community and I’m grateful that they are here.

The pool has been a known issue for years. The current initiative appears to be the most economically sound plan we’ve has thus far. Renovations would be too costly to draw from the annual general fund, so there would need to be some incurred debt. Having one debt paid off and using those funds to toward a new pool makes logical sense. In my opinion, it seems like a worthwhile investment into our community.

​​Over the years planning meetings have shown that residents would like to see more trails built in Rifle. How you will prioritize trails and bringing recreational activities to town if elected?

​As the president of the Rifle Area Mountain Biking Organization (RAMBO), we have worked toward outdoor recreation in Rifle. ​​RAMBO built the trail that runs along Morrow Drive (Ninth street), is assisting with the trail leading up to the Rifle High School and future home of the animal shelter, as well as exploring options for future community trails in Rifle. I am also part of the Friends of Hubbard Mesa, a group organized by the Bureau of Land Management to bring different user groups together in a productive manner. I would like to grow outdoor recreation in a fiscally responsible manner, while encouraging outdoor activities for all residents.

How will you ensure that next month’s Rifle Western Adventure Weekend becomes the hallmark September event for Garfield County for years to come.

To ensure success, the first thing I do is to get involved. The more hands to help, the better. Second, as a business student, I’m all about marketing. City staff and volunteers involved have set up an amazing series of events and have already done a great job marketing, but I feel it’s the one area that can always be improved. The more people that hear about this spectacular event, the better.

Brent buss

How long have you lived in Rifle and what made you want to run for City Council?

Brent has been a resident of Rifle for 23 years with his wife Tamara and three children Silas, Luke and Morgan. He is originally from Illinois, served in the US Navy, and enjoys baseball and outdoor activities. Drawing from his 13 year experience in retail grocery management, Brent turned to starting his own business and now owns/operates Thrifty Thrills Thrift Store in Rifle and Glenwood Springs. In addition to providing a place to donate and purchase gently used items, Thrifty Thrills has donated over $100,000 to local and national charities since the business opened six years ago. Brent has been on the Garfield County Energy Advisory Board for seven years, and he has served as Chairman. He and his wife have been involved in the local business community through the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce and they enjoy supporting the community by attending community events.

In what areas would you like to see Rifle improve? What will you focus on if elected?

As a candidate, his greatest focus is in supporting existing businesses and in seeking opportunities for local economic development within Rifle. As a small business owner, he understands the challenges that come with starting, growing and maintaining a business operation; his efforts will zero in finding ways to build steady economic growth rather than accepting the boom-bust cycle which has been a pattern in the area.

At the candidate forum, each of you said that you would support the bond initiative involving the construction of a new E. Dene Moore Care Center as well as support the construction of a new pool. Why do you think it is important for Rifle to invest in projects like these?

Brent is a supporter of the E. Dene Moore Care Center primarily because of the health services it provides to the community as well as the jobs it brings. The health care provided by the center will be a much needed to serve the community’s current elder population and the aging Baby Boomer population. Just as well, the center provides jobs for doctors, nurses and support staff for the community. He also supports the construction of a new pool in Rifle. A new pool in Rifle could attract citizens from surrounding communities with updated attractions, the patrons for wich would add to the tax base. Furthermore, there won’t be the need to raise additional taxes for the project.

Over the years planning meetings have shown that residents would like to see more trails built in Rifle. How you will prioritize trails and bringing recreational activities to town if elected?

Brent strongly believes that Rifle’s largest asset is its beautiful natural areas and that the city should actively promote these to attract visitors. Brent would highlight attractions and activities such as the ice and rope climbing, Rifle Falls, Rifle Arch, Rifle Gap, hiking, biking, camping, etc. The spending of dollars by visiors in local businesses helps everyone by supporting our tax base. As they say, a rising tide lifts all boats.

How will you ensure that Rifle Western Adventure Weekend becomes the hallmark September event for Garfield County for years to come?

He wholeheartedly supports Rifle Adventure Weekend – it was easy to see the positive effect the event had on local businesses as well as it acting as a boon to the spirit of the local community. This year, Brent and Tamara will have a booth at the event and they look forward to seeing you, please stop by!

theresa hamilton

How long have you lived in Rifle and what made you want to run for City Council?

My family moved to the Rifle community in 1988 from central Illinois. I’m a mid-western farm girl at heart. My father looked at many places in Western Colorado and what piqued his interest was there was a horse in the middle of Railroad Ave. and of course, right behind it, there was a pile of horse poo in the middle of Railroad Ave. and he said this was the place he wanted to move his family. At the time, I was a student at the University of Illinois. I came to Rifle and stayed in Rifle because of the people. I was elected to a two-year term in 2015. I ran then because I wanted to give back to the community that has given so much to me. I want to continue to serve for many reasons, but the biggest is that the city is in the midst of great opportunities with the selection of a new city manager, an election for the construction of a new pool, and the continued upgrading of city infrastructure. I want to be a part of those opportunities.

In what areas would you like to see Rifle improve? What will you focus on if elected?

I will continue to advocate for the continued upgrade and improvement of our critical services: water, sewer, roads, public safety and attempt to balance that with the development of infrastructure elements that improve the quality of life for residents – including the trail system, pool and broadband. People will come to visit because of our great natural beauty – they will stay and relocate businesses because we have great amenities that support them and meet their needs.

At the candidate forum, each of you said that you would support the bond initiative involving the construction of a new E. Dene Moore Care Center as well as support the construction of a new pool. What about these projects appealed to you and why do you think it is important for Rifle to invest in projects like these?

My philosophy on economic development is that people will stay in communities that meet their needs. The first questions that many people ask when they come to a community is how are the schools, where is the YMCA/rec center etc., and where are the best doctors. Sometimes they take for granted that the community will have good water, sewer, streets and police because those are the basic services every community should provide. Projects like the E. Dene Moore Care Center and the Art Dague Pool renovation are projects that support community members for years to come. They support the oldest and the youngest among us.

Over the years planning meetings have revealed that residents in the area would like to see more trails built in Rifle. How you will prioritize trails and bringing recreational activities to town if elected?

The City of Rifle conducts a regular survey that asks about the opinions and priorities of our constituents. Some of the recent priorities indicated by the citizens include the pool and our trails. I will continue to advocate that the City continue to use that as a guide and we prioritize our trails/recreational projects using the survey results as a guide. We must continue to keep an eye on the ongoing operational and maintenance costs of these facilities as we construct them.

How will you ensure that next month’s Rifle Western Adventure Weekend becomes the hallmark September event for Garfield County for years to come.

I am excited that so many groups and organizations have come together to create a signature event for the fall. I look forward to seeing how Western Adventure Weekend is received by the community, see the successes and the areas for improvement and encourage the continued collaboration to make it the hallmark September events


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