Republican candidates for county and state house seats in the primary election met in Orchard City on May 29 for a question-and-answer forum.
The two-hour-long event attended by some 50 people was hosted by the Delta County Republican Party Central Committee, which was also responsible for choosing and submitting questions.
The primary election mail ballots are going out this week. Official election day is June 26. The Republican primary will see a contested race for District #3 Delta County commissioner. In District #2, incumbent Bruce Hovde is running unopposed.
In the District #3 county commissioner race, Peach Valley farmer and chiropractor Dr. Roger Bentley faces North Fork rancher and businessman Mark Roeber.
Bentley is an area native. He has served for six years on the Delta County Planning Commission. Bentley has placed an emphasis on private property rights and the U.S. Constitution in his campaign. He has notable political backing from a base of the party's Constitutional conservatives and area Tea Party supporters.
Roeber is a Delta County native, a North Fork rancher, and a co-owner of Homestead Meats. He has served as president of the Colorado Cattlemen's Association. Roeber's family heritage of 123 years ranching in the North Fork Valley ensures a broad base of support from party members and others for his candidacy.
During opening statements that each candidate gave at the May 29 session, Bentley described himself as a "fundamental conservative candidate." He wants to "whittle down" the numbers of county regulations. "The county has enough planning regulations," he said, adding that he is opposed to zoning and building codes in the unincorporated county.
Roeber in his opening statement noted his experience in business, both in ranching and retail meat merchandising. He stated support for personal property rights, and outlined three other main campaign themes: support and retention of local business; protecting water and water rights; and continued multiple use of public land resources.
Bentley and Roeber differed somewhat in their views on the entwined local issues of the right-to-farm and confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Roeber said his view is that the local right-to-farm policy is based on grandfathering existing ag operations to protect them from encroaching development. He said he supports right-to-farm. It is also Roeber's view that a farmer setting up a CAFO should consider impacts to his neighbors and consult with them beforehand. Still, he said, "Confined feeding is ag." By contrast, Bentley's view is that the very defining of feed lots as CAFOs is part of the United Nations Agenda 21, a program seen as an attempt to impose one-world government control through local planning rules. CAFOs are a right-to-farm issue, he said. He supports the right to farm, and he said that grandfathering is not written in as part of the local right to farm policy.
An issue likely to go to county voters in November, ending term limits for county sheriff and coroner, found the candidates in partial agreement. Both men believe that voters are the ultimate term limit setters. Roeber stated that he favors ending term limits for the two county offices, which he sees as less political and requiring more professional credentials than some other elective offices. Bentley said he would express his personal opinion on the subject by secret ballot on election day.
Asked their top funding priorities for the county, Bentley noted the county's budget is over $25 million now and replied, "What are we lacking?" Bentley said that roads and law enforcement are top priorities. Roeber said his top priority is the "health and welfare of the people," and he also put safe roads and law enforcement in that category.
Also on the issue of county roads, both men said they would be willing to consider using more competitive bidding and private contractors for county road work.
The candidates were asked their views on "compromising to be a successful politician." Roeber explained that a firm stance on principles is essential "while trying to work with people to have a civil discussion" on differences. Bentley said that commissioners are "leaders of the county, not dictators. We can't compromise on principles, but we can compromise on opinions."
How would the candidates represent those who disagree with them? Roeber said, "I am known to be a listener and even tempered... You learn to work things out, encourage debate, and remain civil." Bentley explained that his views on most issues are derived from basic documents of government including state statutes, the U.S. Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence.
Both men recognize the job of county commissioner is a full-time one. Bentley said it would be "30 to 40 hours per week in a suit" with an additional 20 or 30 hours per week. Roeber said, "I know it is a full-time job, and I am committed to that."
Asked what qualifies them to represent District #3, Bentley replied, "I know how to relate to the salt-of-the-earth people who live in Delta County." Roeber said that by having lived in the upper North Fork Valley his entire life he has come to "know the people, who to talk to, and what their views are."
Both men said that jobs are the key to economic vitality and decreasing welfare dependence. They oppose government mandates and regulations as the solution.blog comments powered by Disqus