Candidates for the Montezuma County Board of Commissioners discussed their views on an array of topics during the League of Women’s Voters forum Tuesday in the Kiva Room at the Montezuma Combined Courts.
Republican Jim Candelaria, Democrat MB McAfee and unaffiliated Jesse James Sattley sat before about 85 citizens and responded to a volley of submitted questions. Unaffiliated candidate Steve Chappell was absent. It was the third forum for the candidates.
On motivations for running for commissioner, McAfee said she values the local community and will manage county issues with “honesty, transparency and civility.” Sattley said he represents the blue-collar worker, is a good listener, and will control government spending. Candelaria is a local builder and retired firefighter “with leadership skills who would encourage entrepreneurship” to improve the economy.
Sattley said the most important issue in the county was attracting industry to create well-paying jobs. He said to get there, a railroad line is needed from Gallup to Moab to affordably “ship in materials and ship out products.”
Candelaria said he believes hemp will provide a profitable new market, and create jobs and additional businesses such as a hemp-processing plant for oil and textiles.
McAfee’s ideas for the economy include a USDA meatpacking plant, outdoor recreation and improved internet service to attract new businesses.
On building codes, Candelaria and Sattley said the county requirement for them on commercial buildings is sufficient, but codes are not needed for residential buildings because it’s too regulatory. McAfee disagreed, and said residential building codes are a good thing for public safety and home sales.
All candidates responded that they support developing solar energy in Montezuma County because the sunny Four Corners is an ideal location. McAfee said selling the idea to investors should be a priority. Candelaria said he has experience with implementing solar energy as a board member with the Cortez Sanitation District, which approved solar arrays to run two sewer plants, cutting customers’ costs by 5 percent. Sattley said he supports alternative energy including wind, solar and hydro energy, “but also wants to drill for oil while we get the alternatives set up.”
Water, homes and service
Sattley said restrictions on watering lawns are needed during drought “because there are farmers depending on that water to make a living.” He would like to see less paving in the county and more chip-sealing because it is more affordable and covers more roads.
On the proposed Paths to Mesa Verde between Cortez and Mancos, Sattley said he wants a motorized component on the project or that a separate motorized trail be built somewhere else as part of the deal.
Candelaria returned to his “man of action” theme, with an examples of growing his own hemp crops, planning and approving a local solar project and running his own construction business that provides 10 jobs. He is also a certified aquatic nuisance species boat inspector to protect Groundhog Lake from invasive mussels and to keep the lake open for boating. He also wants more affordable housing in the county as a way to attract young people to move here.
McAfee said she would like to arrange a water summit with all the water districts to discuss drought conservation measures. She wants meetings between the county and towns of Dolores, Cortez, Mancos and Towaoc to build better collaboration. She said she would have office hours in different locations to serve residents. McAfee also said the county land use codes need updating to clarify which uses are allowed where and to better define what home businesses and temporary structures are.
One audience member wondered what kind of community service work the candidates have done.
Sattley said he helps his neighbors and family and has served on the sheriff’s posse.
McAfee said she is a founder of The Bridge Shelter, is a board member for Onward!, is on the advisory board for the Southwest Colorado Agricultural Research Station, and is a volunteer at local soup kitchens.
Candelaria said he was a volunteer for the Cortez Fire Protection District for 11 years and currently serves on the Cortez Sanitation Board.
Upcoming forumsOct. 2: A forum by the Cortez Farm Bureau is at 7 p.m. at the County Annex, 103 N. Chestnut St., Cortez.Oct. 8: A forum by the Four Corners 9/12 group is at 7 p.m. at the Baymont Inn, 2279 Hawkins St., CortezOct. 15: A forum by KSJD is at 6:30 p.m. at the Sunflower Theatre, 8 E Main St., Cortez.