Citizens of Mancos got a chance to meet the candidates for the April 5 election in a forum March 14 hosted by the League of Women voters.
Six candidates have their eyes on the five available seats on the Mancos Board of Trustees. Two candidates have their sights set on the mayor’s office.
The candidates for the board include incumbents Matthew Baskin and Lorraine Becker, as well as challengers Craig Bennally, Fred Brooks, Ed Hallam and Gina Roberts, a write-in candidate. The candidates who receive the three highest vote tallies will serve four-year terms, while the fourth- and fifth-place finishers will serve two-year terms. The five winners will join Trustee Michele Black on the six-member board. Mayor Pro-Tem Todd Kearns is not seeking another term. Current trustees Queenie Barz and Will Stone are competing for the mayoral vacancy. Current Mayor Rachael Simbeck is not seeking another term.
Baskin, a long-term care ombudsman, has lived in Mancos for 12 years and was appointed to the board in 2014. Becker, a retired government worker who has lived in Mancos since 2005, was appointed to the board in January after board member Darrel Ellis passed away in November 2015.
Bennally is a customer service manager for a temporary employment agency. He is a lifelong resident of southwest Colorado and has spent the past two years in Mancos with his wife and two kids, he said.
Brooks worked as a registered nurse for 36 years in the Four Corners region before retiring and moving to Mancos in 2014.
Hallam worked as a sales representative for Grand Junction Pipe and Supply and has lived in Mancos for almost 40 years. He previously served as mayor of Mancos from 1988 to 1999, resigning when he built a house outside town limits, he said.
Write-in candidate Gina Roberts joined the race late, but has been involved in various aspects of the town. She sits on the town Planning and Zoning board and is a former Girl Scout leader. She coordinates entertainment at Mancos Valley Distillery and helps set up music acts for Mancos Days each year, she said.
Mayoral candidates are current trustees Queenie Barz and Will Stone.
Barz grew up in Mancos and previously worked for the Cortez Journal, as well as for car dealerships and insurance agencies. She moved back to Mancos in 2000 and now works for Hospice of Montezuma. She has served on the Board of Trustees for the last eight years.
Stone has lived in Mancos since 1987 and is co-owner of Mancos Livery. He has served on the board for two years.
Spectators at the forum were asked to submit questions for the candidates to answer. Following are key points the candidates made on topics during the forum.
The future of Mancos
What should the town look like in five years?Barz: “We need to open our doors and be welcoming. Mancos has to grow but keep its politeness and pride.”
Baskin: “In five to ten year’s let’s do more of what we do well. Improvement is a type of change. Infrastructure improvements matter.”
Becker: “We need more paved roads, especially around the Post Office. I don’t want to change the town drastically.”
Bennally: “I want to see what I saw when I moved here. I’d like to see good things that my kids can be proud of.”
Brooks: “We should work on the tourist trade to bring more revenue. The southwest will continue to grow so we can latch on to that.”
Hallam: “Mancos is a good size. We have available space to fill in town. We need to be proactive instead of reactive.”
Roberts: “I want it to become a destination instead of a pass-through. I want to see our youth stay here.”
Stone: “The few blocks of Old Town that we have is a gem that we should care for. That’s a precious jewel that we can show off.”
Should the town be obligated to appease its citizens or its businesses first?Barz: “We need to broaden our horizon. Everyone should have a voice.”
Baskin: “Businesses should be good for the town. No growth is better than bad growth.”
Becker: “We have to listen to constituents to make the best decision for the greater good, for businesses and citizens alike.”
Bennally: “We should consider needs of the town. We need to be an open ear for the community.”
Brooks: “You can’t take sides. If you take care of people in town, everyone can work together.”
Hallam: “What we do impacts some outlying areas. There’s a fine balance between meeting business and citizen needs.”
Roberts: “The first job is to listen to all in the community, but it’s a balancing act. Businesses should benefit the town.”
Stone: “We need to make decisions that are good for all, but businesses pay the bills.”
Should livestock be allowed in town?Barz: “Growing up here, we dealt with animals, but we need to enforce codes. I’m worried about the conditions some animals are living in.”
Baskin: “It’s not a zero-sum argument.”
Becker: “I would like to see us find middle ground, but you have to realize that people around here are impacted.”
Bennally: “You need to keep the land healthy. That has to be considered in a small area.”
Brooks: “You can’t please everyone. You have to find some way to meet in the middle.”
Hallam: “I love livestock. They pose issues, but it’s beautiful. If we allow it we need to respect our neighbors.”
Roberts: “I moved here because it’s a farming and ranching community. You have to talk to your neighbor and deal with it. You try to work it out.”
Stone: “Animals are a great success in Mancos. I would hate to see Mancos lose the way it has dealt with animals.
What is an important upkeep project the new board should pursue?Barz: “The crosswalk (across U.S. Hwy 160) will be major. Paths to Mesa Verde will take a long time. The sewer plant was a gamble and we’ll have to address it.”
Baskin: “Wastewater treatment is a huge project. We can’t take our attention off that. Everything depends on water.”
Becker: “We have a hole in front of the post office. We are spending too much money filling holes in roads. That’s a pet project going forward.”
Bennally: “Paths to Mesa Verde will be a big step for the community. Infrastructure needs to be addressed.”
Brooks: “The key is U.S. 160. Development there will be a tourism boon. We should look at downtown revitalization to get people shopping there.”
Hallam: “Boards carry over lots of things. There will be a huge learning curve with the new board, but we will do great things.”
Roberts: “Livestock is important because we are a farming community. We should look at current ordinances to see what is enforceable. We need to keep things going.”
Stone: “The board made strides with town staff in looking at water leaks. That needs to continue, because we’re leaking water that’s not free. The sewer plant needs to be addressed in the next four years.”