Democrat Mary Beth “MB” McAfee, of Lewis, has been a fixture at Montezuma County commissioner meetings the past several years.
The experience has motivated her to run for the District 1 commissioner seat up for grabs in the November election. She announced her candidacy in a press release Wednesday.
“I’ve learned a lot about county governance and the issues, and believe and I can provide leadership and commonsense approaches to situations and decision-making,” McAfee said.
She was raised in Cortez, and has a professional background as a social worker, nonprofit organizer and educator. She describes her leadership style as “inclusive, and I believe in civility and transparency in government affairs.”
One of her goals is to develop a “more cohesive” relationship with public land agencies and local towns. If elected, McAfee said, she will have regular office hours that will move to different parts of the county, and will travel to meet with constituents.
She wants to help develop with the public a long-term vision for what the county should look like in 20 to 25 years. Part of that process means updating the county’s comprehensive plan, which is 20 years old.
“How to accommodate future economic growth and increases in population is an important role of government,” she said.
“Strategic planning and seeing projects through” are some skills she brings to the table, McAfee added. For example, she helped to start the Bridge Emergency Shelter, and develop the Onward! Foundation. She serves on the advisory board for the Southwestern Colorado Research Center, which focuses on crop science.
Regarding economic development, McAfee believes expanding agriculture as a key to county success. For example, she supports the local fruit orchard revival and sees potential for a local USDA certified livestock processing plant.
“Grass-fed beef is very popular, and this area has the pasture to do it. The next step is to have it processed and sold commercially right here instead of shipping the cattle to a facility outside the county,” she said.
More investigation is also needed on how to improve the local timber industry in order to create more local wood products, mitigate wildfire risk and create jobs, McAfee said. Working to foster the recreation economy is also important for her, including continuing with the planning of the Paths to Mesa Verde trail project between Cortez and Mancos.
“These ideas take deep analysis and market research, and I think the commissioners can take a lead in gathering that knowledge,” she said. “I’m comfortable working with all kinds of people, sitting down together and making a plan for the future.”
The commissioner race will be competitive, as three Republican candidates have also joined the race. They include:
James Lambert is serving the last year of his four-year term as county commission. He plans to run for re-election and says his goals are to expand the breakwater at the McPhee marina and continue to fight for county ownership of the Dolores-Norwood road, currently under forest service jurisdiction.Charlie Rosenbaugh, a former Colorado State Patrol officer and county coroner, says he would work to attract more industry and would consider a small county sales tax to help improve local Internet infrastructure.James Candelaria, a local builder and retired firefighter, believes the county should promote more agriculture to diversify the economy, including planting hemp, and supporting the latest fruit orchard revival. He is planting an experimental hemp crop on his firstname.lastname@example.org