All three District 3 Montezuma County commissioner candidates attended the first of several forums to be held in the area on Tuesday, and stated their differences on zoning and other issues facing the county.
The forum, which was held at Vista Mesa Assisted Living Center, was hosted by the League of Women Voters.
The candidates in the lone contested commissioner race are Republican nominee Dewayne Findley and unaffiliated candidates Greg Kemp and Larry Don Suckla.
Suckla said he doesnt like zoning in general but will uphold what is already in place. He said he likes spot zoning, like La Plata County (handles it).
Kemp said he favors zoning for the whole county, and noted it has been implemented for the past 15 years. Of the few property owners with unzoned land, 98 percent have signed up to have it zoned in conformance with the countys Land Use Plan, he said.
Findley said he places himself somewhere between Suckla and Kemp on zoning issues. Full zone is the right approach, he said. The commercial and industrial overlay districts the county is currently implementing will facilitate commercial and industrial planning and streamline the process for high impact permits and make it less burdensome, he believes.
The candidates were also asked about U.S. Forest Service road issues.
Suckla said he would stay on top of the issue, noting that four-wheelers had created their own roads in the mountains where he has a ranch. This was because the Forest Service didnt keep the official road clear of logs, he said.
Kemp, a retired industrial supervisor from Michigan who has lived in Montezuma County for 11 years, said the current approach by the county commission is not sufficient. He suggested having a county commissioner attend meetings with Forest Service officials instead of having a county employee do it.
There is no resolution to the Forest Service roads issue in the near future, he added.
Findley, who owns Aspen Wall Wood with his wife Mary Ann and previously served on the commission from 2003 to 2006, called the coordination committee set up by the county commission a good step, but agreed with Kemp that the county could participate more. The committee has potential, but the structure needs to be looked at, he said.
Findley won the Republican primary over Casey McClellan in late June, while Kemp and Suckla successfully petitioned their way onto the ballot as unaffiliated candidates.
In the District 2 commissioner race, Keenan Ertel will be running unopposed after winning the Republican primary.
Additional candidate forums are coming up, including one hosted by the Farm Bureau on Monday, Oct. 15 at the county annex. The League of Women Voters will host another forum at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6 at Empire Electrics Calvin Denton Room.