Council Candidate Follow-Up

Today was municipal election day in the City of Grand Junction. It seemed to be a rather low-key affair in comparison to the last election. Aside from the obvious differences, conducting an election solely by mail may have something to do with that.

Even though the stakes don’t appear to be as high as in November, there were still 4 council seats to be decided, which constitutes a majority. While there doesn’t appear to be an organized slate or bloc of candidates which could conceivably control Council if elected, there did seem to be a somewhat refreshing difference of opinions that created some meaningful choice in some districts and the one “at-large” seat that was contested.

One month ago I posted a recap of issues pertaining to Public Safety, with the stated intent of posing these issues to as many Council candidates as I could reach, to elicit any opinion they might have on these issues.

I sent an e-mail that included that earlier post to every Council candidate with the exception of Bill Pitts and Ken Sublett, who I could not locate e-mail addresses for. Here is a brief overview of what I got back:

Bonnie Beckstein, Sam Susuras, and Tom Kenyon did not reply.

Roland Cole replied with a question as to who I was, and if we had met. I replied to him with a brief bio, and stated that to my knowledge we had not previously met. I received no further replies from him afterward.

Reford Theobold replied, and basically referred me to his website, specifically his position on new Public Safety infrastructure. Mr. Theobold’s website is comprehensive in scope, and contains many well-written position statements. The experienced Mr. Theobold also received local media endorsements, as did Mr. Cole. A lot of good it seemed to do them.

While it’s true that Mr. Theobold was a Council member when the last economic downturn hit Grand Junction, it’s also true that he was a Council member when the Persigo Agreement was signed with Mesa County. He may have proven his mettle in helping to manage adversity, but what about growth, especially when that growth may continue unabated despite the likelihood of reduced revenues? I guess we won’t know, at least until he runs again.

The most comprehensive and fruitful response came from incumbent (and unopposed) candidate Teresa Coons:

Hi John —

I would be happy to sit down with you and discuss your concerns and issues. Without going into great detail in this message, I would say that most of the things that you mention in your points below are actually taking place, albeit maybe not in a manner that makes these collaborations obvious to the general public. For example, the public safety functions throughout Mesa County (police, fire, and all-hazards emergency management) are approached very collaboratively by all of the emergency services agencies within Mesa County. There are a number of formal contractual and informal agreements among all of the agencies within the county. There have, in fact, been a number of major emergencies over the past few years where the collaborative operations of these agencies were clearly evident. Having served for the past 6 years on the Mesa County Board of Health, for the past 4 years on City Council, and serving as the City Council representative on the Meth Task Force, the Offenders Management Task Force and the Pandemic Flu Preparedness Task Force, I have been able to witness the inside operations of the emergency agencies within our county, and the relationships among them. I might also add that the Police Chief has established a Citizen’s Advisory Board, and Grand Junction police, fire, and utilities personnel (among others) participate very actively on the County’s Emergency Management committees, which are convened by the County Emergency Manager, and include participation from key personnel from the other incorporated municipalities within the County.

Teresa Coons

Ms. Coons made an effort to answer my concerns by lining up behind the efforts already being taken by local public safety agencies to work together and communicate. I agree with some of her assertions, but some of my concerns remained unaddressed. These efforts do occur, and they do result in some extraordinary joint operations in highly adverse conditions. I hope to be able to sit down with her sometime soon.

One other thing that came out of Ms. Coons’ reply was that she copied it to City Manager Laurie Kadrich. Ms. Kadrich then copied that email to the other candidates, asking that she be given the first opportunity to speak with myself and others about the concerns I have brought forward.
I meet with her later this week.

Congratulations are in order to Bonnie Beckstein, Teresa Coons, Tom Kenyon, and Bill Pitts on their election to Council. It stands to be an interesting year ahead, right off the bat. I’m looking forward to see how the Comprehensive Plan, along with the obvious needs of Public Safety, will be addressed by this Council in ways that are in the best interest of the City that put them in office. 25 years from now is important, but pales in comparison to the needs of the community over the term of these new Council members.

Tomorrow is another day of work, as well as a day of reflection, remembrance, and continuing to look forward to a future both uncertain and full of possibilities perhaps not even thought of yet.

Take care.

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