The nine candidates running for a seat on the Town Board addressed tough questions concerning town growth, infrastructure needs and opportunities for young people at a Meet the Candidates event Wednesday, March 19.
During the election on April 1, seven challengers will face current Trustees Rovilla Ellis and Alan Rolston.
Find bios of all the candidates here: http://bit.ly/1rA2Uco
At the panel, most of the candidates agreed on a similar vision for the town. While some growth is inevitable, they would prefer the town retain its character.
"Keep it small, keep it western," said candidate Anthony "James" Maestas.
There were several variations on this theme.
Candidate Gina Roberts said she'd like to see the town become more of a destination and less of a drive-through community.
Most agreed economic growth would be positive. Variations of this vision included business growth on Grand Avenue, including the addition of a hardware store and a pharmacy.
"I'd like to see not so many people commuting out of here to make a living," said candidate Will Stone.
Others were concerned about how to balance the highway business corridor against the downtown.
"How will the highway business corridor get developed. How can that be sustainable and grow and attract business, and not leave a big empty hole, right here, downtown," said candidate Tim Stubbs.
The candidates wrestled with development and preserving the town when they discussed the pending construction of Family Dollar.
The company has expressed interest in coming to town, but it was decidedly unpopular among most candidates.
Although some candidates, including Michele Black, expressed the reality that the Planning and Zoning Board is in charge of designing the land-use code, which sets regulations for formula stores similar to Family Dollar. Writing regulations that would prevent Family Dollar from opening a business in town could prevent other formula stores from coming to town.
"Do I necessarily want to see it come here? No. Do I want to say no to any chain store? Probably not." Black said. "There are some potentially good kinds of things that could happen. A CVS Pharmacy could decide that they want to come here."
Roberts' strong personal opinion in favor of the new store set her apart.
"Personally, I don't care if Family Dollar, Ace Hardware come to our community. I researched it. The average store manager of a Family Dollar makes $42,000. That is $42,000 to possibly a resident of our community."
But she said she would listen to town residents on this issue and vote accordingly.
Several candidates also mentioned lack of opportunities for young people in town as a need that should be addressed for the sake of town health.
"One thing well-functioning small communities tend to have in common, is they have multigenerational dialogue happening. They're retaining their people," said candidate Matthew Baskin.
The biggest need identified was infrastructure, particularly public water pipes, pumps and a new storage tank.
There were few concrete ideas presented to solve these issues. Most candidates agreed the sale of recreational marijuana might help fund infrastructure improvements and wasn't dangerous to the community.
"It's more likely just to make people schmooze around town and groove and take their time and not be in such a hurry to leave," said candidate Maddy Williams.
In addition to considering the nine candidates running for the four open seats on Town Board on April 1, residents of Mancos will also consider allowing the board to place a fee of up to $10 on all marijuana transactions.
Currently, the Mancos moratorium on the sale of marijuana is set to expire in June, and fees from marijuana sale could be levied in 2015.
The election will be a mail-in ballot election, although ballots can be dropped off at Town Hall.