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Primary marked by GOP choices

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Ballots for the June 28 primary election have been mailed to registered Democrat and Republican voters in Delta County. Unaffiliated voters may participate by affiliating with one of the major parties any time prior to Election Day. Details are available at the county clerk and recorder's office in the county courthouse or the North Fork Annex in Hotchkiss.

The primary election will be conducted by mail, although votes can be cast in person at the county clerk's office in either Delta or Hotchkiss. A 24-hour ballot drop box is also available at both locations.

The Democratic ballot lists a number of county and state offices, but none are contested. The Republican ballot is filled with hopefuls, including five candidates for U.S. senator, two for 3rd Congressional District representative, two for the State Board of Education and two for Delta County commissioner, District 3.

Mark Roeber and Roger Bentley were asked a short series of questions, as a means of introducing themselves to the Republican voters in Delta County.

Mark Roeber was raised and educated in the Paonia area. Other than a short stint in Denver for college, he's been a lifetime resident of Delta County. He has been married to his wife Jody for 35 years. They have four children and four grandchildren.

Roeber served on the Delta County Livestock Board from 1987-1996. While president, he served on an ad hoc committee put together by the county to develop and write the county's current Master Plan. He is active in the Colorado Cattlemen's Association (CCA), serving on the federal lands committee which reviews BLM and USFS policy and rulemaking related to grazing. He filled a similar role for the National Beef Cattlemen's Association. He also served on the board of directors and as CCA president.

In 1998 Mt. Lamborn Ranches Ltd. (his family ranch partnership) and five other local ranches formed Homestead Meats to try and market beef direct to the consumer. That corporation is still going today.

Numerous lawsuits have been filed over the county's Specific Development process. What changes do you believe should be made to the county's land use regulations to avoid expensive litigation?

Prior to the Specific Development Regulation, Delta County had no land use regulations. Anyone could start any business or land use at any location. Specific Development regulations were created to bring people to the table to try and mitigate issues, concerns and impacts of business or land use to fit the neighborhood and be compatible. Examples were cell towers, gravel pits, laying hen house, etc., that prior to the Specific Development regulations could be built anywhere with no review or opportunity for public comment or resolution of issues. SDR was patterned as a conditional use or special use in a zone district with Delta County being one zone. The conflict arises when neighbors do not want the new business or land use in their neighborhood. The Specific Development regulations do not define where in Delta County a new business or land use should be placed. This is what is producing the conflict/litigation and has deterred new business and land uses from locating in Delta County. Land use tools need to be created to determine the type of land uses property owners desire in areas of Delta County so business has some assurance and clarity of where they can do business. This has become a challenge for any business to locate in Delta County. The current Delta County commissioners have committed to updating the Master Plan, which is 20 years old, and using the input of the citizens to write a land use plan. I feel this has become necessary to continue to move our county forward and diversify our economy while preserving this special piece of the world in which we love and live.

What does right to farm mean to you?

Pretty much just what it says. You have the right to till, graze, work land to produce food and fiber for a living and support of mankind as a whole. There are sights, smells, dusts, etc., that may be inconvenient or considered nuisances that occur, but that is rural living People need to have respect and appreciation for what really attracted them here in the first place.

How can our interests best be heard at the federal level, when it comes to rulemaking that affects the people and resources of Delta County?

Getting interests heard and addressed at the federal level is about persistence and building relationships and partners. The short term satisfaction of having your say is not what gets you the best results in the long run. Relationships with our federal elected officials and their staff are essential as well as working relationships with agency directors and staff to help guide and shape plans that affect citizens and economies of Delta County.

What can the county commissioners do to address the economic challenges resulting from the coal mine layoffs? Please consider the impacts to the budget, as well as the economic health of the county as a whole.

The commissioner can address our economic challenges in many ways. Trying to make our county attractive to potential business is paramount. Through a minimal amount of land use changes (to give infrastructure and ability to be there), keeping tax structure low, and appreciation of business are to name a few. Prioritizing spending to help facilitate that is a must do.

Broadband is becoming what electricity was. More necessity than luxury. We need to continue help in getting it here. Marketing Delta County is another.

Keeping government small and efficient.

Please share why you are the most qualified candidate for county commissioner.

I feel I am the most qualified commissioner candidate for multiple reasons. I have the first term under my belt. The leaning curve is less for me which in these challenging times is a plus. Those relationships and partnerships needed are already in place in my case and I look forward to be able to use those to bring a better future to our county. While I know we have to be prudent and conservative in our budgets we still have to have vision of where we want to be. Not just where we have been. I feel I can better help Delta County achieve that, with a mix of "old and new" ideas. I hope to continue to serve this county I love and call home.

Roger Bentley has lived in Delta County since 1993. A chiropractor, he has an office in Austin and also farms, grazes cows and raises pasture hay on 340+ acres in Peach Valley. He is involved in custom farming on a small scale.

Bentley has served three terms on the Delta County Planning Commission.

Numerous lawsuits have been filed over the county's Specific Development process. What changes do you believe should be made to the county's land use regulations to avoid expensive litigation?

Specific Development regulations should be eliminated on private property. The specific development regulations appear to me to be an attempt to act in the absence of zoning. Many have relocated to Delta County because Delta has no zoning or building codes. When this becomes inconvenient, they change their position.

What does right to farm mean to you?

The unalienable right to plant, protect and harvest horticulture and animal husbandry without violating adjoining property. Concerns may be mitigated through the county health department.

How can our interests best be heard at the federal level, when it comes to rulemaking that affects the people and resources of Delta County?

We must challenge and extinguish the pseudo authority of the federal agencies, including the EPA, BLM, USFS, DOT, etc. We must lean on and pressure the state and federal legislators to do their job.

What can the county commissioners do to address the economic challenges resulting from the coal mine layoffs? Please consider the impacts to the budget, as well as the economic health of the county as a whole.

The economic health of the county is a direct reflection of the citizens of the county. The citizens are holding tightened purse strings, therefore, the county must tighten its purse strings. Cut the budget across the board. Get out of the way of private business.

Please share why you are the most qualified candidate for county commissioner.

I am not afraid to say NO when it comes to overreach upon the citizens of Delta County. I was one of the 40+ citizens who met multiple evenings for seven months fighting to protect the watersheds in the Gunnison Basin Wild & Scenic stakeholder group in 2010 and 2011. The BLM was behind the water grab, and the citizens making up the stakeholder group turned them back. I as proud to stand in the tiring effort. Standing on principle reaps rewards.



A sample ballot can be viewed at www.deltacounty.com.

Prior to the general election in November, this series of questions will be expanded to county commissioner candidates Don Suppes, R-District 2; Mark Eckhart, unaffiliated, District 3; Travis Mills, D-District 2; and Jere Lowe, D-District 3.

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