Ballots for the primary election are being mailed this week and for the first time, will be sent to unaffiliated voters as well as voters registered as Republican and Democrat. Voters may vote and return only one of the ballots. If a voter marks and returns more than one party's ballot, none of their votes will be counted.
For those registered with a political party, there are no changes to the primary election process. The voter will get a ballot in the mail for their political party, if their party is holding a primary election.
At the state level, both the four Republicans and four Democrats are seeking the party's nod for governor. There are also contested races for state treasurer, attorney general, Colorado Board of Education and CU regent.
At the county level, Republicans Mike Lane and Teresa Nelson are vying for the District #1 commissioner seat currently held by Doug Atchley. Atchley is term limited.
The winner of the primary election will face Democrat Dick Gilmore in November.
Mike Lane grew up on a family farm in Delta County. At a young age, he helped out at Delta Sales Yard, then owned by his grandfather, dad and uncle. He eventually owned the sales yard until he sold it in 1996. He's also worked as a bank lending officer and in oil and gas for Halliburton, retiring in October 2016. He believes his knowledge of agriculture, banking and oil/gas make him qualified to represent District 1.
"Progress is coming and I want to work with it, to listen to the people talk about their issues and address those issues as they come up," Lane said.
Teresa Nelson grew up in Rangely where she met her husband Mike. They moved to a 16-acre parcel in Peach Valley 17 years ago. Her work exerience is varied. She's been a waitress, worked in the finance department at the school district in Rangely, and successfully managed both a restaurant and an airport. Currently she's a stay-at-home mom with a small cottage business, which has allowed her to be active in the Republican party at different levels.
"I believe as a conservative Republican woman, I have a valuable perspective to add to the Board of County Commissioners," she said.
The candidates were asked a short series of questions. Those questions, and their responses, follow:
How would you describe community input during the Master Plan process? How about during trails planning?
Lane: Community input during the Master Plan process was represented by a number of people from some districts of the county while people in other districts did not attend the meetings. The meetings that I was able to attend, it seemed the same people showed up each time. Maybe some people felt comfortable and confident with the job members of the Master Plan board were doing and other people felt the need to attend the meetings.
I was not able to attend any of the trails planning meetings.
Nelson: I would always like to see more participation! Community input is essential for the Master Plan and trails plan. I would also like to thank everyone who did participate, and especially the citizens of the North Fork who voiced their concerns in majority. I sincerely hope the planning commission takes all suggestions to heart.
Is it time to consider zoning for the unincorporated areas of Delta County?
Lane: The people of Delta County have expressed their desire not to have zoning or codes. I would want a vote by the people on this issue for it to be changed.
Nelson: I believe all options should be considered to encourage growth in Delta County. But, one of the unique features here in unincorporated Delta County is that we do not have zoning or building codes. Once we open the door on zoning it can be a very slippery slope to a one size fits all mentality and we may forever lose a unique freedom that distinguishes us from other counties throughout Colorado. Regulations have a tendency to kill innovation and good intentions can create bureaucracies and have unintended consequences. How we balance growth while protecting private property rights and supporting our agricultural industry is a challenge I look forward to being a part of.
There has been some discussion about better use of the fairground facilities. What are your thoughts on this topic?
Lane: Anytime the fairground facility can be utilized for a worthwhile cause it is a good thing. Various events and activities are held there through out the year that bring people from other parts of the country to our county and they can see what a great area Delta County is. The exposure could possibly bring new businesses to our county and a chance for more revenue to be generated.
Nelson: The fairgrounds are a great facility and I would like to encourage groups, families and other entities to consider using the fairgrounds for their events. The fairgrounds are a great venue for concerts, festivals, family reunions, rodeos, horse shows, really the possibilities are endless.
Economic development comes up at virtually every municipal and county meeting. What direction holds the most promise for Delta County as a whole?
Lane: Economic development is vital to any county; various groups are exploring what options seem to be the best course to take. As a county commissioner, I would want to hear their input before I could say which direction the county should take.
Nelson: The term economic development can have different meanings. Economic growth, jobs and business opportunities are the goal! It is especially important to me that our children and grandchildren have these opportunities. What role government plays in economic growth is always the question, laissez-faire or dirigiste (free market or state control). In my opinion, government should support economic growth, not control it. Government should do its job (mostly infrastructure, roads, landfill etc...) and support businesses equally.
Special districts are struggling financially because of the Gallagher Amendment and decreasing property values. Several have mentioned seeking support from the county. Is that a viable option?
Lane: The Gallagher Amendment is putting a strain on all counties of Colorado. There might be a point where the county would have to help a special district for a short time but I would be interested knowing why the special district needs help and look at the issues that occurred that put it in that situation.
Nelson: The services provided by our special districts are important and I wish there were a simple answer. TABOR and state statute limits how special districts can be funded. County funds are the taxpayers' dollars and if I'm elected, I not only have a legal responsibility to use those funds according to the law, but a moral responsibility to allocate those funds wisely. By working together, thinking outside the box and searching for options, a solution can always be found.
What one question do you wish you'd been asked? Here's your chance to respond!
Lane: No response.
Nelson: The people in Delta County are doing a great job of asking me tough questions, but more importantly, they have been very open to my questions about what is important to them. My priority is to represent the citizens of Delta County and I am grateful for their support.