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Three interested in Paonia board vacancy

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The Paonia Town Board of Trustees is set to appoint a new trustee at the Nov. 27 meeting.

Three citizens submitted letters of interest in replacing former trustee Barry Pennell, who resigned in September after announcing he would be moving out of town limits. Dave Knutson, Pamela Jackson and David Bradford will be considered for appointment.

Speaking to the board on Nov. 13, Knutson said he believes the sitting board lacks humor and dialogue. "Given tonight's proceedings, some might question my sanity," said Knutson, referring to a lively discussion on the recent ruling by Judge Stephen Schultz in favor of Bill Brunner in a case brought on by the town over a request for records under the Colorado Open Records Act.

Knutson, who owns a small consulting firm working with local non-profits, has experience in mediation and conflict resolution. He worked for about 10 years in the public sector before going into private-sector work for the remainder of his career, and was human resources manager at Chaco for about five years before the company relocated to Michigan. "I felt that public service was the highest calling," he said.

Based on attendance at several meetings in recent years, he said he believes the meetings lack a sense of humor and a sense of dialogue needed in the town. Referring to an earlier discussion on magnesium chloride, Knutson said he doesn't believe citizens have an opportunity to express their concerns. "People need to be heard, and to know that they're heard," said Knutson. "And if that doesn't happen, that creates a lot of conflict... We're all here for a reason, and that's to make Paonia better."

Jackson, who has lived in Paonia for 16 months and has family here, served on the board of directors for the town of Cotopaxi.; was southern Colorado director for Proposition 105, the "right to know" law requiring mandatory labeling of GMOs; and served as president of the Southern Colorado Culture Change Coalition to change the face of care in nursing homes.

Jackson said that like Knutson, she has second thoughts about serving on the board. But based on her experiences with Pueblo, where she said public comment isn't allowed at meetings, this is a very special community, and she shares concerns about the environment and the threat of oil and gas development.

"People talk about mag chloride because they're concerned about what goes into their body, what goes in the water, and what goes in the air." Also the reasons she moved here, she said, they are the reasons she is interested in serving on the board. She said that if appointed, she would research all the issues before the board and reach out to others, including those whose opinions differ from hers. "I believe that as a board member, yes, you're representing your opinion, but you're also representing the whole town of Paonia, so you want to know how others think and feel."

Due to a prior commitment, Bradford did not attend the meeting. A town resident for more than 25 years, he is retired from the U.S. Forest Service. Bradford served a four-year term on the board of trustees beginning in 2014, and was mayor pro tem from 2016-2018. He lost a bid for re-election last April. He also served on the town Tree Board from 1998-2007.

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