Two want to be Crawford's mayor

By Tamie Meck


Crawford is looking to fill two council seats for four-year terms and elect a new mayor in the April 5 municipal election. For those wanting to know more about the candidates and where they stand on specific issues, a candidate forum will be held beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 9, in the Town Hall Community Room. Light refreshments will be provided.

Paonia and Hotchkiss municipal candidates will be profiled in the March 2 and 9 issues of the Delta County Independent.

Crawford
mayoral candidates

Wanda Gofforth is one of two candidates for Crawford mayor and is completing a four-year term as trustee. She is retired from financial consulting. She served as senior vice president and cashier at First National Bank in Paonia, and worked for Tenny-son Financial Services.

Gofforth has been a member of S&B Quilters since 1999 and served two years as president and as vice president. Husband Argee Gofforth retired in 1998 after 30 years of operating Electric Motors in Crawford. Together they have four children, 16 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Daughter Karla Head is the vice principal and counselor at Paonia Junior/Senior High School and son Dean Kaestner is employed with Homeland Security; Argee's son now runs Electric Motors in Montrose, and his daughter works in mortgage lending.

She sees declining revenues as the biggest challenge for the town of about 400. "If we can keep revenues coming in, all else will fall into place," said Gofforth.

She is running to "continue what we have done in the last four years" and keep the town on a positive path. "I would hate to see it slide backwards." She credits mayor Susie Steckel and the council for a long list of accomplishments, and said she and the mayor have seen eye to eye on almost everything. While she could have run for trustee, she said she wants to ensure that Steckel's vision continues.

The last four years she worked closely with council on a long list of accomplishments including passage of balanced budgets through fiscal conservatism, establishing participation in the FEMA National Flood Program, passage of an emergency water management plan, purchasing shares of Clipper Ditch water, passage of an investment policy, and an ordinance banning all retail marijuana sales. Last year Crawford was the first Delta County town to convert street lights to LED through a DMEA pilot program.

She sees bringing high-speed broadband Internet access as "definitely a positive. The community voted to support broadband and I'm looking forward to working with all the parties to make it a reality." She also supports completion of the sidewalk project and Cedar Street sewer line upgrades, for which the town is actively seeking grants. "I will continue looking for ways to bring money into the town," said Gofforth.

Gill Saunders, 60, was appointed to complete a two-year term on Crawford council in June 2015.

He also served on council in the 1980s and 1990s.

Saunders is retired from the service industry. He met wife Donna at hotel management school in Kansas City and in 1982 moved to Crawford to run her family's business, the Boardwalk Restaurant. He left for three years to do an apprenticeship with a chef, and returned to the area for good. They raised five children.

He represents the town on the county's Juvenile Diversion program, which he says is important to the county because it gives kids a second chance. He wants to continue with the program if elected. Saunders is also active in the Crawford Area Chamber of Commerce and Pioneer Days committee.

During his earlier time on council Saunders said the town was actively planning to upgrade sewer infrastructure, and later was involved in upgrading its water system. He has attended local school board, Region 10 and Board of County Commissioner meetings, has represented the town on the Crawford Planning Commission, and participated in bringing natural gas service to the town. Those experiences gave him insight into the bidding process, including contract negotiations, acquisition of easements, and seeing projects through to completion.

He also understands the town's need for broadband service, which voters supported. "I think broadband is a real boon to the area," said Saunders, and will greatly benefit local schools, which rely on high-speed Internet to administer online tests and other functions.

He believes his experiences will help the town continue that tradition of responsibility while seeking new ways to support business and bring new revenue sources to the town.

As an elected official Saunders vows to practice integrity, listen to the citizens, and not enforce his own views. He believes in preserving traditions, but that change is inevitable. "You can't stop change, but it can be corralled and moved in a way that is acceptable to the town," said Saunders.

Crawford is in good shape financially thanks to fiscal responsibility of current and past councils, said Saunders, who wants to support the town's continuing prosperity. Crawford is often the first town people see when visiting Delta County, and the last town when they leave. He sees opportunity in creating and supporting businesses that could make it a destination place.

He says the people living in and near town are Crawford's greatest asset. "We've always come together and helped our fellow citizens."