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. Part 1 and Part 2 of the answers were published over the past two weeks. Here are their answers to the last questions from the board candidates. See accompanying article to view mayor candidate responses to all questions. A candidates forum will be held March 16, at 6:30 p.m. at the Dolores Community Center.
Do you have ideas for improving economic development in town?
Tobie Baker: Commerce is key to generating added tax revenues. In addition to attracting new entrepreneurs to the community, the town should also increase support for current businesses.
Janice Heman: I would like to see more people shop local.
Debra Jorgensen: I do not have any specific ideas in mind, but I know we can always improve in this area.
Janneli Miller: It would be great if we could build on what is unique about Dolores. I know the friendly small-town atmosphere draws people to our community, and so the question is: How do we preserve that hometown feel and also support businesses and activities that contribute to our economy?
Tim Mueller: Not yet.
Tracy Murphy: The Town of Dolores 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. (Editors note: This answer ran with the wrong question in an earlier report. Murphy’s answer to the question of her professional background is as follows: “I am a museum curator with 25 years experience in the field. I have a master’s degree in anthropology from Northern Arizona University.”
Brian Rantz: We have numerous festivals and activities that bring in revenue. We can work to make those better and maybe brainstorm some new festivities.
Leigh Sand: I look forward to learning about ways to improve our economy. And in terms of promoting the success of local businesses, I intend to find out how other board members and/or the town staff works with the Chamber of Commerce.
Jennifer Stark: It is necessary to see what connections the Town of Dolores has with economic sector entities first before launching into what I think should happen. Lots of good Board of Trustee members have done some work and tried some things. It is important to get the staff and Board’s institutional knowledge first before pontificating about any of my “new ideas”.
Duvall Truelsen: Develop a Dolores-centered advertising format to promote the many resources specific to the Dolores area.
Melissa Watters: Dolores is a unique community that has a lot to offer. Nevertheless, Dolores does seem to have been “left behind” in the economic revitalization that we see occurring in other municipalities in Montezuma County, most notably Mancos and Cortez. I would work to enhance Dolores’ participation in economic development initiatives such as the Montezuma Community Economic Development Association, small-business development centers, and the Chamber of Commerce. In addition, I have been inspired by the initiatives of the Institute for Local Self Reliance in regard to building community-scaled economies. They have numerous resources the town of Dolores could use to help revitalize neighborhood commercial districts and strengthen and rebuild independent, local businesses. An example is the ILSR’s research on affordable space and the strategies cities have employed to encourage local entrepreneurial endeavors. I stand ready, willing and able to research grants and legislative initiatives and synthesize those opportunities into ideas that can encourage economic development in town.
Do you support the town’s plan to build a new playground at Joe Rowell Park?
Tobie Baker: Yes. Recreational opportunities are an invaluable asset for the community. In addition to constructing a new playground, I’d also like the town to build tennis and racquetball courts, a bike and skate park, an outdoor community amphitheater as well as new bike and hiking paths.
Janice Heman: Yes, but it is not the top priority for running this town.
Debra Jorgensen: Yes I do. I believe that we need a playground for our children so that they have a place to come together and play.
Janneli Miller: Yes. I’d also like to see that we include an adult jungle gym in the plans. http://www.outdoor-fitness.com
Tim Mueller: Yes because the children of our town need a good place to play.
Tracy Murphy: Yes! I am currently the Dolores Town Board representative to the Dolores Parks and Playground Committee, tasked with advising the Board on the issue, and creating the plan to rebuild our community playground. There are very exciting times ahead as we work with the community to design this core space for Dolores.
Brian Rantz: Yes. It needs to be fiscally feasible and low-maintenance. Dolores has beautiful park. Our parks are enjoyed by our citizens, its children, their pets.
Leigh Sand: Absolutely! I feel great about the restoration of the Parks Committee to help make this happen, and in the meantime, am so thankful that we have so many other ways of enjoying the outdoors with our kids here in Dolores.
Jennifer Stark: I had an old wise friend once tell me that you have to have parks, churches and schools to have a community. If he is in fact correct, anything that helps improve the health of these three sectors is necessary.
Duvall Truelsen: Dolores has the best library, town maintenance facility and equipment, plus excellent water and wastewater systems. We should add to that list the best playground in Southwest Colorado.
Melissa Watters: Yes. The playground is an important part of Dolores both from a community standpoint and an economic standpoint. People stop, they slow down. If they feel welcomed and in an inviting space, they will stop in town at the market, at a restaurant, at a unique shop that exists nowhere else.
What do you love about Dolores?
Tobie Baker: The kindness of Dolores residents, plus its proximity to the best outdoor adventures in the country.
Janice Heman: I have always loved the small-town atmosphere and friendly people. I moved here from Lake Havasu City, Arizona. It was growing too big, and I wanted to raise my daughters in a small town.
Debra Jorgensen: My favorite thing about Dolores is how someone is able to drive in any direction and have different scenery. The mountains, the river and lake, and the desert-like places.
Janneli Miller: The people, the river, the wildlife and the small-town friendly atmosphere.
Tim Mueller: Being a small town. I grew up in a small town which grew too big and I wanted to go back to the way I grew up.
Tracy Murphy: Everything! I chose to move here 17 years ago, and that was the best decision I ever made.
Brian Rantz: What’s not to love about Dolores. Dolores is both a summer and winter wonderland. I was raised here, and I am raising my children here. I love Dolores’ small-town atmosphere.
Leigh Sand: I love the ease of access to outdoor adventures that we have here, some within walking distance from my house! I also appreciate being able to walk to the market, the library and the schools. I did not grow up here, but am grateful for the opportunity to have made this my home for the past six years.
Jennifer Stark: Dolores has a lot of potential. It has wonderful proximity with the Scenic Byway, Canyon of the Ancients, the fabulous Dolores River, McPhee Reservoir, massive public lands access, and the Anasazi Heritage Center — just to name a few. It is 30 minutes way from desert, 30 minutes away from high alpine mountains and ready to go. It just needs a vision that all can embrace to move forward on. A unified and supported vision will assist this area in capitalizing on its assets and expanding its resources.
Duvall Truelsen: The initiative of citizens, neighbors and town staff to step up when needed. This is obvious as seen in our excellent library, the Galloping Goose Historical Society, Dolores Fire Department, and Rotary Club.
Melissa Watters: From my first visit to Dolores seven years ago, I fell in love with the river, the open spaces, the history and the friendly atmosphere of Dolores.