Eleven candidates are vying for four positions on the Dolores Town Board, and two are competing for the mayor’s position.
Candidates for town trustee as listed on the ballot are restaurant owner Duvall Truelsen, registered nurse Leigh Sand, manicurist Janice Heman, teacher Melissa Watters, school counselor Jennifer Stark, child care center owner Debra Jorgensen, museum curator Tracy Murphy, construction worker Brian Rantz, brew pub worker Tobie Baker, health care professional Janneli Miller and accountant Timothy Mueller.
Candidates for mayor as listed on the ballot are local firefighter Gerald “Jerry” Whited and Southwest Open School teacher Chad Wheelus.
All candidates answered questions emailed to them by The Journal. Candidate answers will be presented over the next couple of weeks.
Answers from the first five candidates were published by The Journal on March 2.
Below are answers from the other six running for town board, and additional answers from all candidates will be published next Friday. Answers from the two mayor candidates will be published next Friday as well.
Board candidates and the mayor will be chosen by voters during the April 3 election, which will be by mail-in ballot. Ballots with instructions will be mailed out by mid-March to registered voters.
Why did you decide to run for town board?
Tobie Baker: I’ve lived in Dolores for just over a year. It’s a charming river canyon community, and I believe my passion and expertise could enhance the town’s appeal.
Debra Jorgensen: I have lived in Dolores for 19 years, so I decided it was time to step up to be part of the decisions being made.
Tim Mueller: To help better serve my town.
Tracy Murphy: I was appointed last April to fill a mid-term vacancy, and I want to continue working on issues like the playground building project, hiring the permanent town manager, and working on issues of economic development in Dolores. When I approached the board last year to fill a mid-term vacancy, it was because I felt after 17 years living in Dolores it was time I stepped up with my time and energy to serve my community.
Jennifer Stark: All members of a community have some way they need to contribute. For some it is volunteering with a nonprofit, others it is helping with an organization that contributes to the health of a community. My background and studies were in public policy and public administration. I had a good time with the work I did for the town of Rico, and am pleased my schedule is in a way that I could contribute some time to Dolores. I have been a resident here since 2005 and felt it was an appropriate time to see if I could be of service.
Duvall Truelsen: Every election there are new goals and challenges to work on. Finding solutions for these is one of my favorite endeavors.
Do you have any specific goals or projects you would work toward if elected?
Tobie Baker: Modernize the town’s aging infrastructure. Develop strategic partnerships to promote tourism. Increase recreational opportunities. Incorporate renewable energy to power government operations.
Debra Jorgensen: I have not thought of any projects to bring forth, as of yet.
Tim Mueller: Not yet.
Tracy Murphy: I am the town board representative on the newly created Dolores Parks and Playground Committee. I want very much to continue that work. I would also like to be part of revising the overall Dolores Parks Plan. I am also interested in seeing improvements to the Dolores downtown core, and hope the Town Board and newly hired town manager can begin work on short and long-term economic development planning for Dolores, and begin revising the Dolores land use code.
Jennifer Stark: Yes, my specific goal is to increase public and town board transparency. The information available to the citizens of Dolores could be improved. The more information, the more likely citizens will take an interest in what is going on.
Duvall Truelsen: To be a leader for the goal of designing, funding, and construction of a new playground for Dolores. I also want to promote the many outdoor recreation destinations in the Dolores area.
Where does Dolores need improvement, and how would you help accomplish that as a board member?
Tobie Baker: Increased tax revenues. I’d work to partner with outside entities, both public and private, to examine future funding sources.
Debra Jorgensen: Safety of children crossing the highway. Driving slower on the side streets, because of our children playing.
Tim Mueller: Our roads because of their condition.
Tracy Murphy: Dolores is a wonderful place to live as it is, right now. However, we all know that lost business has a negative effect on our community through lost tax revenue, lost employment opportunities, less options for our community. A short- and long-term economic plan is needed. I think we fall short promoting our strengths – McPhee Reservoir, the Dolores River, access to vast areas of forest for hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, and so many other types of recreation. Building on existing strengths to attract visitors to our area, and draw them to our restaurants, shops and lodging will benefit Dolores businesses and the community as a whole.
Jennifer Stark: It depends on what the community defines as improvement. Some of my charge – if I am elected – is to get out there on the ground floor and hear what the people of Dolores would consider an act of improvement looking like.
Duvall Truelsen: Encourage businesses and residents to improve their visual impact, I’d also continue street improvements as our budget allows.
What skills do you have that would make you a good town board member?
Tobie Baker: Dedication. Integrity. Sensible.
Debra Jorgensen: The skills I would bring are the following: honesty, dependability, and integrity.
Tim Mueller: I have been in business for 46 years and have a good idea of how a town works.
Tracy Murphy: I am currently a member of the Dolores Town Board, appointed as a mid-term replacement last April, so I have one year of experience on the Dolores Town Board. I am willing and able to serve and represent all of the Dolores community because I know that is my duty as a trustee. I do not come to this board with bias or any agenda except to listen and learn from everyone, support this community, and town staff. I have served on nonprofit boards in the past, and have participated in the Montezuma Leadership Summit that taught community leaders what is needed to be part of a functioning board. I have professional training that provides experience in budget management, consensus building, participating in and running meetings under Robert’s Rules of Order.
Jennifer Stark: I have worked in the public sector for many years. I understand the patience it takes to work with municipal processes, and some of the skills it takes to work with the public. I served on the Region 9 Economic Development district board, have pursued and secured State Historic Fund grants, and worked extensively with organizations such as CDOT, DOLA, and the Dolores Public Lands office. All these are influential factors in Dolores and I am hoping some of my skills and connections will be useful to the public and staff.
Duvall Truelsen: Understanding how most town functions are fulfilled by our staff. I also have experience serving as a town board member and former mayor.
What is your professional and educational background?
Tobie Baker: A student of journalism and advertising, I graduated from the University of Mississippi with a BSJ (bachelor’s degree in journalism) in 1996. My award-winning 20-year professional career included stints as a photographer, investigative news reporter, editor, brand ambassador, communications specialist and public relations manager.
Debra Jorgensen: I have an Associate of Arts degree from Pueblo Community College and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Fort Lewis College. Also, I have operated the Dolores Christian Child Care for the past 7 years.
Tim Mueller: I am an accountant and have some college.
Tracy Murphy: The Dolores Town Board, staff and the community need to improve and support economic stability. We need to retain the businesses we have, and attract new business as well. Increased collaboration with the Dolores Chamber of Commerce and other municipal organizations would be beneficial for that. Short- and long-term planning for economic development is a big need. Improved infrastructure that attracts visitors and gives them reason to stay, and to return again is needed. We have an immediate need for infrastructure improvements like a new playground, other activities for youth, and overall planning for improvements to the downtown core and Dolores parks. Much of this will require organized planning, community involvement and feedback. Through this community and town staff/board collaboration we will see where we want to go as a community, and be able to develop a plan with steps in place to get there.
Jennifer Stark: I have a master’s degree from the University of Colorado in political science. I have taught American government and civics classes for several years at Southwest Colorado Community College and currently teach similar subjects at Dolores High School.
Duvall Truelsen: I have a college degree from Colorado State University. Also I have experience running several businesses. I am currently operating my sawmill, and I also lease the Line Camp area on the Dolores River for weddings and reunions.