Grand Junction City Council Candidate Questions

The Outdoor Recreation Coalition, LAUNCH West CO and Conservation Colorado circulated questions to the candidates for office of the Grand Junction City Council to understand their position, plans, and perspective on Outdoor Recreation, Technology and Conservation in the Grand Valley. If you feel that these issues are an important part of the future of Grand Junction, please let this questionnaire help guide your votes.

There are four questions. (click on a question to see the candidates’ responses).

1. Technology permeates all areas of life and business, and it represents an ever-growing portion of the global workforce. Do you believe that Grand Junction should be actively working to recruit / cultivate tech companies and qualified workers? What are your plans to make our city highly attractive to high-tech companies and workforce?

District A

Jessie Daniels:

Being progressive and forward thinking will bring Grand Junction into the 21st century. High speed fiber internet is critical to attracting those future businesses! I believe that Grand Junction is reasonably positioned for the future. With that said we need to focus on urban trails, rebuilding/modernization of our schools, high speed internet and upgrading our infrastructure, and improving our mass transit.

Phyllis Norris:

The City of Grand Junction developed an economic develop plan in 2013, at that time we hired a consultant to work with the ED partners, (GJEP, GJ Chamber, CMU, Incubator) they developed a plan and come to us each year for funding to move that plan forward. Technology is a part of our economic development plan and we will continue to work to provide the needed services for the community.

 

District D

Marty Chazen:

There is no question that technology is changing the way we live and work.  As a part-time instructor of process technology at WCCC and as a certified technician for industrial electronics, I have a feel for how data-driven systems will change the way goods and services are produced and delivered.  Grand Junction must embrace these changes or be left behind.

A primary role of the City is to provide an economic environment where businesses can operate efficiently and profitably; my ideas on this are fully covered in the questions below.

I was an early advocate for the City to take an active role in economic development, an effort that led to the adoption of the North Star Report and the City’s first-ever economic development plan.  These documents defined the role of the City, its economic partners and regional branding.  The North Star Report specifically targeted outdoor and high-tech industries.  Accordingly, I supported the critical funding necessary for our economic partners to execute their portion of the plan and we are beginning to see the fruits of this investment.

As Vice-Chair for Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado (AGNC) I offered testimony and support for the Jump Start legislation, a program to bring innovative companies to Mesa County.

Finally, I fully recognize the role of broadband and support market-based solutions to improve service, speed and consumer choice that build on the existing investment of our current providers.

Duke Wortmann:

I APPRECIATE WHAT THE CURENT Council is doing by re-opening the Broadband question. I wonder deep in my thoughts if others in the big arena have passed us over because of the way we have voted and not pushed for Education and the many quality of life issues that so many Communities in Colorado have in the current environment. My plans are to work belly to belly with GJEP and see if we can make that pie sweeter and recruit from the outside. Some sort of Broadband, business driven and geographically driven in some core areas may be a beginning.

 

District E

Duncan McArthur:

Mr. McArthur did not respond to our survey and is running unopposed in this election.

 

At Large

Lincoln Pierce:

If elected I intend to work with our city administrators to move forward with plans to provide highspeed internet services in the Grand Valley. It was disappointing that our current council voted to go forward with an RFP the city had done and then without getting any real figures on total costs of installation and operation voted to stop. There were clear local provider objections voiced at that final meeting.

Grand Junction must move forward with a new plan and do it quickly. Quality service should pay for itself and once you fast fiber service we should be able to market our city and area as a tech haven. Who would not want to live here with the great outdoors and reasonable cost of living. Our chamber would have a new lure for high tech companies when we bring high speed internet to Grand Junction.

Rick Taggart:

The technology industry is vitally important to today’s economy. As a city, we can support it by providing sustainable funds to our Economic Partners to enable them to further their efforts to retain and attract companies and create jobs. Recruiting companies should not fall under the purview of city government, however. We do not have the expertise on staff, nor do we want to expand the city staff into this area. Our Economic Partners do this very well. To make Grand Junction attractive to these companies, we also need to continue our support of CMU inclusive of WCCC to continue to develop our local workforce’s skills and talents. We need to keep government regulations to a minimum and make the development process for our businesses efficient and customer-friendly. We need to finalize and implement a broadband plan that provides our community with the tools it needs to be competitive, both now and in the future. This solution needs to be affordable and reliable keeping the risk to our taxpayers minimal.

2. Do you see the outdoor recreation industry as a viable economic driver, and if you are elected, what role will you, as a leader of the City of Grand Junction, play in promoting the outdoor recreation economy in our community?

District A

Jessie Daniels:

When elected I’ll work to improve urban trail and river front trail systems. Create open dialogue with Fruita and Palisade to actively encourage a better picture of what the Grand Valley has to offer. Exploiting festivals, venues like Los Colonias, and the river front to maximize tourism into those sectors.

Phyllis Norris:

As I stated above, we will continue to work with the ED partners on these initiatives. We also work with the VCB to fund and promote outdoor activities. The city currently funds the VCB $700,000 per year for these activities as well as the funding they get from the bed tax.

 

District D

Marty Chazen:

Outdoor recreation has always been and will remain a big part of our regional economy.

There are many aspects to our outdoor industry and this topic needs to include all options to appreciate just how big this market is.  Hiking, camping, fishing, on/off road cycling, hunting, shooting sports, off road motor sports, winter sports, water sports and other activities are all part of this important market.  Each of activities contributes jobs and revenues to our economy and are, for the most part, self-promoting and self-supported by the segment they serve.

I have been a supporter of outdoor recreation by voting to fund planning for Matchett Park, serving on the internal planning committee for Matchett Park, voting for the Matchett Park master plan, voting for the Las Colonias Park master plan, voting to fund the first phase of the Las Colonias Park master plan, voting for improvements to Lincoln Park, supporting the VCB efforts to market outdoor activities, supporting the Palisade Plunge and voting to support grant opportunities for parks and trails.  I also supported the soon-to-break-ground Cameo Sport Shooting Complex, an industry-supported, Olympic-level facility that will attract thousands of visitors annually.

As with any industry, I believe the role of the City is to provide an economic environment where businesses can prosper and provide jobs for our citizens.  That means low taxes, regulatory restraint, modern infrastructure, targeted incentives, flexible land use, quick action from City departments and fiscal responsibility.  Outdoor recreation is just one of many industries that can benefit from these actions.  I have strongly supported these policies and will continue to do so in a second term.

Duke Wortmann:

Could we use more events, is the Colorado landscape open to more events, could we actually drive more people to town or is the market saturated with these varied and multiple events with folks traveling to all parts of the Southwest already and the pattern is full?

I just wonder how deep the market is but am willing to open some processes that will get us all thinking what are the possibilities.

 

District E

Duncan McArthur:

Mr. McArthur did not respond to our survey and is running unopposed in this election.

 

At Large

Lincoln Pierce:

I see Grand Junction like Moab 20 years ago. We are in the heart of the western wilderness with so many attractions within a short radius. Skiing, hiking, biking, fishing, rafting and off road driving. Outdoor recreation should be one of our major attractions. We should be looking to bring outdoor conventions here to show off our area. If the event center is passed, that will be a possibility.

Our role as leaders should be to set the table with reasonable regulations and incentives to bring jobs and businesses to Grand Junction.

Rick Taggart:

I certainly see the outdoor industry as one of the economic drivers of the area, I think most people know I have a bias in this area as it is the industry where I spent my career. The city should have a welcome mat out for this forward thinking community. We should continue to support the expansion of this business sector through our economic development funds. As well, we need to team up again with our Economic Partners and assist them with funding. In terms of direct promotional efforts, we serve the community in a much better role as a supporting partner. We do not have the marketing expertise that our Economic Partners have. We need them to take the lead from a messaging standpoint.

3. Please describe the importance of our surrounding public lands to Grand Junction? What role do these places and a clean, healthy environment play to our future success as a community?

District A

Jessie Daniels:

Everyone is aware of the vast beauty of Colorado, it’s a major part of what makes us a destination! It’s our obligation to our tourism industry and community to do our part to make it a clean, safe, and active place to visit/live. Creative planning for development to avoid becoming a concrete jungle, maximize our parks and recreation for the future, investment in renewable energies when possible and practical will help to keep our air clean!

Phyllis Norris:

The surrounding area of Grand Junction encourages people to move here, not only to retire but with their businesses. It gives us one more reason for people to locate here and help our economy.

 

District D

Marty Chazen:

There is a direct and immediate impact on our community when it comes to the management of surrounding public lands.

Through my service to the City and AGNC, I am deeply involved with public land use issues.  I support the responsible use of public lands for multiple purposes, which means that management of our public lands must maintain a balance between environmental, recreational and commercial uses.  I believe the BLM and other management agencies are trying to achieve this balance.

The conversation needs to include energy development on federal lands, which is a big economic driver for our local economy.  Severance taxes are a revenue source for the City and severance tax funds DOLA grants used for infrastructure, parks, civic amenities and a host of other programs.  I believe with the right controls, responsible energy development can continue to fund these important projects and provide high-paying, meaningful jobs for our citizens.

Duke Wortmann:

What a question, I drive all over the W slope weekly. Yesterday was in Craig, Steamboat, Vail and Carbondale. These areas all play into our economics and quality of life. I wish I did more outdoors myself. If we keep bragging and let potential folks know how this can be accessed we are not failing to drive a new quality of life to those that don’t know its available. Vague I know for an answer but I am getting used to these… I think.

 

District E

Duncan McArthur:

Mr. McArthur did not respond to our survey and is running unopposed in this election.

 

At Large

Lincoln Pierce:

You must live in the west to appreciate the gift our public lands are to all of us. We must encourage our legislators to protect them for future generations. They are up against rapid population growth and states wanting a share. We must insure that future development and mineral extraction leave pristine areas pristine.

Rick Taggart:

Our public lands are an incredible playground for all of our citizens, and an economic driver for tourism in the region. I believe that the VCB, the Grand Junction Regional Airport, the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission, and other Economic Partners should be stressing our region’s outdoor amenities and the lifestyle opportunities these assets create. If we are going to retain and attract millennials to our community, we have to stress the balance of work and play that is available in our back yard.

4. What are the four most important things we need right now to make our community a vibrant, healthy place for young families and growing businesses?

District A

Jessie Daniels:

• A Recreation facility option for community!
• Streamlining regulations for new businesses to join our city!
• Reintroducing a light-rail transit system to decrease traffic and service the community efficiently!
• Work to improve the access to mental health options!

Thank you for your questions and I look forward to your vote! ~Jesse

Phyllis Norris:

The four major things we need in our community are; A safe environment, good medical services, good streets and roads and a good school system.

 

District D

Marty Chazen:

My priorities are Public Safety, Infrastructure, Economic Development and Fiscal Responsibility, which supports my vision of a City with a well-diversified economy capable of creating fulfilling jobs for our citizens and graduates.

Achieving this starts with professional, well-trained and well-equipped police, fire and emergency medical personnel.  I have a long record of supporting our first responders by making sure we have the people and capital to get the job done.  Our citizens expect nothing less.

Next is a modern and well-maintained infrastructure that citizens and businesses need to operate efficiently.  I have frequently and forcefully advocated for increased spending to catch up on deferred maintenance and set reserve levels that insure money will be available for future needs.

Third, the City has a big role to play in creating an economic environment that attracts and grows businesses.  In addition to low taxes, regulatory restraint, targeted incentives, flexible land use and quick action from City departments I have supported a close relationship and funding for GJEP, the Chamber of Commerce, CMU and the Business Incubator – all organizations actively involved with economic development.

Finally, fiscal responsibility is critical and the City must live within its means.  I have a record of getting into the details, asking the hard questions and putting taxpayers first.  If we are smart and spend the right amount of money on the right things, we can make Grand Junction a great place to live work and play.

Duke Wortmann:

School Funding, Recreation/ Senior Centers, back fill and finish the Avalon Theatre, Drive Tourism…free $$ come from them that use and leave our Community with a time spent enjoying what you guys promote.

 

District E

Duncan McArthur:

Mr. McArthur did not respond to our survey and is running unopposed in this election.

 

At Large

Lincoln Pierce:

Provide and support public safety in our community.

Provide the infrastructure of roads, high speed internet, water/sewer and recreational facilities. Support our school district to make it better than it already is.

Encourage business development in our valley.

Rick Taggart:

My vision for the community includes the following four areas:

  1. A community that is safe,
  2. A high-quality infrastructure, which is inclusive of quality roads and utilities, a broadband solution, parks and trails.
  3. A commitment to economic growth, diversity and job creation.
  4. The identification, prioritization and development of lifestyle amenities (such as an event center, a community center, an amphitheater, the Avalon, etc.) that are affordable to our citizens.

A final thought on all of the above, I come back again and again to the importance of prioritizing our desires for these amenities—as a city, we cannot afford all of the above without significant tax increases. We’re a creative community, however, and can certainly find ways to develop these areas using strategic private/public partnerships, grant money, and other alternatives.