Crawford voters have six candidates from whom to choose to fill the two seats open on their town council in this year's election. The following are brief profiles of the council candidates.
"I was born in Crawford (Delta Hospital) ... in 1969 and I am 46 years old," writes Tammy Lynn Broughton. "I left for a while but came back and have lived in Crawford for 22 years.
"Having six years previous experience as a town trustee I feel that I am very knowledgeable and up to date with almost all town ordinances.
"Crawford is a great place to raise your children and seems as though it has become popular for retirees. My emphasis is to try and get the town council to work together as a team with the chamber by promoting and holding more events where the town and the business entities both gain in revenues. I feel Crawford is ripe for getting on the map and I foresee many feasible ways to work towards that goal."
As the past owner of Bait Box-N-More, "there was no support from the town council and I hope we can change that relationship to be more pro business and smarter this time around."
Crawford's biggest assets include "the spectacular outdoor wonderland we live in," including Crawford Reservoir, which she views as more than just a water source. "...it is vital that we keep the visiting sportsmen, fishermen and hunters in mind because this can be a very good source of revenue." To do that will require resources to attract visitors in a way that makes them want to return.
Its people are also a major asset. "When this town has a tragedy, most of the town will come together to console or help those in need; you really don't see that happen in most communities in today's world."
The biggest and most difficult challenge she sees is "changing the current mindset of the council by trying to get people to accept change." She also wants to work with the community on bringing broadband Internet access to every resident in Crawford.
"I currently work as a home care provider and my schedule is flexible," wrote Broughton. "I can work very hard for the town and its people."
Carl Page, 64, has 30 years' experience as a registered nurse providing in-home health care to former uranium miners. He and his wife, Cheryl, have lived in Crawford for 13 years. He sees Crawford as a place with a strong sense of community. "It doesn't matter if our opinions differ," said Page. "In times of crisis we all come together."
He would like to use that positive energy to move forward, create jobs, and "to find some sort of common ground."
Page believes he has something of value to bring to council, including his experience as a paralegal. In the past he gained experience reviewing medical lawsuit records and writing memorandums on proceeding with cases. He believes the town should make better use of its attorney in its decision-making.
He also uses his nursing experience to help the community. Last year he held a people's free health clinic in Crawford and Paonia for the uninsured and underinsured, as well as the public in general, offering basic health care within his scope of expertise.
Page wants to find solutions to problems without increasing property taxes and water rates. "I am open to all avenues of income," said Page. He also believes strongly in exploring all grant options available, and has a good resource in Cheryl, a professional grant-writer.
Among his specific goals are the construction of a shelter for the school bus stop at the Crawford First State Bank, and bringing the town's website up to date.
He is also concerned with the town's flood risk, and sees that problem increasing with the piping of the Zanni Lateral of the Crawford Clipper Ditch, scheduled for completion this spring. He believes resulting damage could go beyond the scope of coverage through the town's status with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "The town has a genuine flood issue that needs to be addressed," said Page.
Page said he isn't looking to resolve past conflicts. "It's time to look forward," he said. With roughly 56 of Crawford's 180 registered voters claiming party affiliation, "there are a lot of independent-minded people" in town. He is currently participating in a one-man voter registration drive to get people, and especially the younger demographic, involved, not to garner votes, "but just to vote. If we don't use our democracy, we'll lose it."
John G. Paton
John Paton, 70, is a retired law enforcement/corrections officer. He is a gunsmith and has owned and operated Crawford Country Gunsmithing since 1997. He calls himself a "relative newcomer" after living in Crawford for 35 years.
While he has no prior council experience, he has experience working for local and state governments. Regarding the greatest challenges the town faces in the next two to four years, he believes that for Crawford and the North Fork Valley, overcoming the economic impact of the federal government's overreach on coal and local miners, their jobs and families is a priority. He has fears "that the next step will be regulations impacting agriculture and ranching."
For Paton, the town's greatest assets are "the people, mostly, and for me, the quality, beauty and solitude of just living here."
He is running for council "to make even a small contribution back to the town and its folks for all that my wife and I have enjoyed just living here in the Smith Fork Valley."
Paton says he will bring to council "logic, common sense and conservatism in my way of solving problems that I/we will face."
Hetty Todd is running for a third term on Crawford council. She served a four-year term and is ending a two-year term.
Todd, 75, is a native and lifelong resident of Crawford with deep roots in the area. She has been married to husband Larry Todd for 59 years. She is retired from ranching and is a former antique shop owner. She also worked in Hotchkiss school lunchrooms and for six years served as manager. She currently serves on the board of the Crawford Area Chamber of Commerce. As a member of the Crawford Cemetery board, she has spent the last nine years working to revitalize the historic cemetery. As a council member, she represents Crawford on the Delta County Planning Commission.
Maintaining the town's infrastructure and completion of sidewalks along Highway 92 are some of the issues she wants to continue to work on. In the past year a new restaurant and shop opened and she wants to keep the momentum going and keep the town looking beautiful in order to attract more people and businesses.
Todd said the council has completed a lot in the last four years, including working with the Friends of Town Hall to renovate and remodel Town Hall, formerly the Crawford School, from which her mother graduated in 1924. Council also oversaw the reconstruction of the building's east sidewalk and preservation of the historic gym and stage. She wants to keep the momentum going and "keep working on these projects."
Todd said she brings a discerning point of view to council. "To be an antique dealer you have to have a sharp eye," said Todd. That experience has taught her to pay close attention to details and make sure one is getting the best deal for their money. She wants to continue using that skill to help guide the fiscal decisions the town must face in the future.
Chriss Watters, 65, is a retired Colorado Department of Transportation highway worker. He has lived in Crawford for 27 years, and previously served two years on Crawford Town Council.
For 27 years he worked for CDOT in and around the North Fork area, Delta, Gunnison and Montrose. To say the least, he has lots of road experience. Watters also served four years in the United States Air Force.
Watters sees money as the greatest challenge Crawford will face in the next two to four years. "With the lack of jobs in and around the area, being able to keep people living in Crawford" is a major challenge. "Folks have to go where they can find work."
He believes Crawford's greatest asset, first and foremost, is "the people that live here. What a great bunch of folks" live in the area. The location is also ideal. Not only is it 60 miles from Gunnison, Montrose or Grand Junction and all that those communities have to offer, but "Crawford has the small-town feel where your neighbor shouts out to you when you are out doing yard work or removing snow," said Watters. The recreation is also a big asset. Living here, it's possible to snowmobile on the trails on Black or Grand mesas in the morning and go fly fishing on the Gunnison or North Fork rivers in a short-sleeved shirt in the afternoon. "Crawford is not perfect, but it is as close to perfect as I have found."
Watters says that he isn't "running" for council. "I am walking for council. I gave up running a long time ago. I feel that Crawford as a whole has given me a great place to live and raise our children. In some small way I will try and give back to the community to ensure that future children have a place to play, learn, enjoy life in the slow-paced world."
Jay Ziegler, 47, grew up in Crawford. He is a graduate of Paonia High School and earned a bachelor of science degree in psychology from Colorado State University in 1996.
His prior experiences include serving two years as Mesa State University (now Colorado Mesa College) student council representative for Psi Chi National Honor Society in Psychology. He is a former Street Outreach Coordinator for HomeBase Youth Services, funded through the Children's Health Fund and Phoenix Children's Hospital, going out on the streets and working directly with at-risk homeless children. In 2014 he represented Precinct 17 (Crawford area) at the Colorado Republican Party State Assembly in Boulder.
Ziegler said Crawford's biggest and most immediate problem is flooding. When the Top of I Street was paved two years ago, it exponentially increased flooding on the south side of Highway 92, which impacts him and his neighbors.
Due to the town's liability exposure, it's a serious problem that needs to be addressed, said Ziegler. "We've got to find funding to begin to create flooding infrastructure." While the town participates in the FEMA National Flood Plan, Ziegler said claims require at least three complainants, has a $10,000 deductible, and allows only a one-time payoff, which prevents those who rebuild in the same location from filing a second claim. Rather than rely on FEMA, said Ziegler, he wants the town to work with various agencies to create drainage areas and flood basins and vows to represent those living in flood zones.
Ziegler said he wants to inject more appropriate discussion in town meetings, and allow more public use of the newly-renovated Town Hall, starting with using it as a heated bus stop for students.
Ziegler said he also wants the town to explore the issue of allowing cannabis operations in town to create new revenue and attract visitors to the town, "especially with the coal mine shutting down during the holiday." He believes a core group of citizens exist who would like to see the community become a stopping point for tourists, and will work to create and support businesses that will attract tourism dollars. That money can then leverage funds for flood control, said Ziegler.
On Tuesday, Sept. 11, the Delta County Board of Commissioners called a special meeting to consider the board's response to the Bureau of Land Management's preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA) concerning the lease parcels proposed for the December BLM sale.
Several people from the North Fork were present to provide input.