John Colson: Here’s my picks for our 2020 county commissioner races
Hit & Run
I’m still waiting for my ballot to arrive at my home in Carbondale, Garfield County, which is one of three counties with jurisdiction in the Roaring Fork Valley (Pitkin and Eagle counties rule here, too, though Eagle County’s slice is the smallest of the three).
As a downvalley resident with no right to vote in Eagle or Pitkin counties, I’ll focus mainly on consideration of my own county’s political options this year, though I will say that if I were still living in Pitkin County my choices for the two contested county commissioner seats would be incumbent Steve Child in District 4 and newcomer Francie Jacober in Distric. 5.
Child, a Snowmass Creek rancher and former teacher, and someone I have agreed with on many issues, has done a good job balancing the county’s various issues (growth, wildlife and recreation, marijuana businesses, public works and so much more) with fairness and openness.
Jacober, a resident of the Prince Creek area near Carbondale and a longtime teacher, has a good grasp of the issues as well, and seems to be an intelligent, widely experienced and open thinker about the difficulties and joys of living in this region.
Given the size and complexity of this year’s general election ballot, it is impossible for me to adequately cover in one piece all the issues and candidates for all three of the counties in this region, and I beg your pardon if you feel I have fallen short somehow when this is all over.
But the truth is that, in a representative republic, it is up to voters to do all they can to educate themselves in the months leading up to an election, and there is still plenty of time to do a little research on whichever issues or candidates interest you.
So I will continue with my limited rundown on issues and candidacies I am concerned about, and let it go at that.
To begin with, I have long believed that Garfield County needs a change in leadership. Our three-man (and I emphasize the “man” part) Board of County Commissioners is dominated by two men who have been in office long enough.
As big boosters of the regional gas-drilling boom, which is now in severe decline, they still cannot seem to understand that we are in the middle of yet another energy bust (similar to the one in the early 1980s, when the oil shale boom in Rifle and Parachute collapsed.)
John Martin in District 2 (Glenwood Springs and its environs), who has been in office for six terms (24 years), and Mike Samson in District 3 (the western end of the county), a three-termer (12 years), are both fighting off strong bids by women, who have linked their campaigns together as a united front.
For Martin, a Republican, it is longtime political activist and Democrat Leslie Robinson who has become a recognizable public figure thanks to her work with the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance and other organizations, and in her insistence that the county should be more of a watchdog than a rubber stamp when it comes to oversight of the oil and gas industry that has dominated the county’s politics and economy for a couple of decades and more (for her views, go to her Facebook page, Leslie Robinson for County Commissioner 2020).
For Samson, his opponent is a relative newcomer, Beatriz Soto, an architect with a focus on sustainable building design and an environmental organizer as well as a Democrat, whose well-rounded understanding of the issues facing the county — past, present and future — will help the county as it makes the transition from an energy-based past to a more diversified future.
Among other things, her website (www.beatrizforgarfield.com) emphasizes that she is “committed to serving working-class people over corporate interests and advocating for social, racial, economic and environmental justice.”
That just about says it all, right there.
Both challengers have amassed impressive endorsements from different organizations, both regional and statewide, and they have the kind of energy and commitment that will serve Garfield County well in the years to come.
I know it is tempting for voters in the western end of Garfield County to stick with Martin and Samson, who have reigned over a period of relative plenty as the oil and gas revenues rolled in.
But those days appear to be over, as well fields dry up and the fiscal model of endless gas-drilling speculation seems to be drying up at the same time.
We need new thinking at the helm of Garfield County, and now is the perfect time to get it done.
Vote for Robinson and Soto, and don’t forget to fill out your mail-in ballots as soon as you can and get them in the mail or drop them in one of the many drop boxes available around the county (see the Garfield County Clerk and Recorder’s website for details).
No time or room now to discuss much else on the ballot, but there’s always next week, so stay tuned.
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