Saturday, October 20, 2018
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Meet the Candidates for district 3 county commissioner and sheriff

We are again entering election season and we again have choices for some local races. The District 3 county commissioner seat held by Phil Chamberland is up for election with Phil choosing to not run for another term. District 3 represents the northern end of the valley that includes Crested Butte. The sheriff’s office is also up for election with the retirement of Rick Besecker. All registered voters in the county get to make a selection in these races.

We will ask the four men running to fill those seats about their views over the next few weeks. We have requested that they keep their answers to no more than 500 words.

If you have a burning question for any of the candidates, shoot us an email to editorial@crestedbuttenews.com.

And the Crested Butte News will hold a Candidate’s Forum on Sunday, October 21 at the Crested Butte Center for the Arts. It will start at 6 p.m. and we want citizens to come and ask questions of those who want to represent them. 

—Mark Reaman

 

Bob Schutt

District 3 county commissioner candidate

Let’s get to a big issue: What do you think of the Brush Creek affordable housing proposal and the process used to analyze it thus far? 

We need workforce housing and we need to work on it urgently. With the help of Vail and multiple jurisdictions, multiple housing projects should be spread throughout the valley. Because the county commissioners and county manager forged ahead with their request for proposals (RFP) without seeking community input, the Brush Creek process has dragged on far too long. I never expected Brush Creek to still be an issue in the fall of 2018. When Gunnison County solicited proposals to develop the 14-acre Brush Creek parcel, the Request for Proposals (RFP) stated, ”the project must incorporate design elements and recreational amenities that will enhance adjacent neighborhoods while also preserving the mountain town experience important to residents and visitors.” I think the sketch plan approval of 180 units, without any significant recreational amenities, intercept parking or transit center ignored the objective of the RFP. I support the preliminary consensus of the Towns of Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte at their October 1 joint work session: (1) five acres for intercept parking and transit center (Park & Ride), (2) at least two parking spaces per living unit, and (3) up to 15 units per acre on the remainder of the parcel, or up to 130 units of workforce housing will fit without being obtrusive. Although that’s a lot of density adjacent to the existing single-family neighborhood, we need more workforce housing. I would also restrict more units for the lowest paid members of our workforce who have the toughest time finding decent housing. If permitted to be built as originally presented by Gatesco, the project would represent an isolated island of a large affordable housing project that fits in nowhere in Gunnison County.

How will you integrate your job as county commissioner with your other responsibilities such as family, business endeavors, volunteer work?

Being county commissioner will be my primary responsibility. It is a big job and almost full-time job. I will still have time to continue volunteer work with the Rotary, Gunnison Valley Hospital board, and Shriner’s Hospitals for Children.

How do you plan to be accessible to your constituents outside of meetings? 

As your county commissioner I will spend a lot of time reaching out and listening to my constituents. Our present board delegates too much to the county manager, who is paid an astounding $225,000 a year. That’s tens of thousands of dollars a year more than county managers earn in larger western slope ski counties such as Summit County, Eagle County, Pitkin County, and Routt County.

My opponent, who is supported by many of the former and present county commissioners responsible for the current “my way or the highway” attitude in the courthouse, is a nice guy. Everybody likes him. But he does not have my breadth of experience or a track record that shows he will change the existing insular, top-down culture in the courthouse. We are not electing a student council president, instead we need someone with leadership and management experience and skills. If you think things are fine as they are, vote for him. If you think we need more collaboration and a shake-up in the courthouse culture, I’m your guy.

When elected, I intend to have regular listening sessions throughout the county at which citizens would have the opportunity to sit down in an informal setting and discuss issues and concerns. As a semi-retired physician (I still volunteer with the Shriner’s Hospitals for Children), I am a good listener and have plenty of time to reach out to citizens and bring their concerns back to the board and county staff. Additionally, I plan to attend town council meetings on a regular basis to better coordinate how our municipalities and county are dealing with issues of common concern.

Favorite sports team?

“Viva Falcones” I am loyal to the undergraduate university I attended. Once you are a student at a university, you always follow and support your school. I attended the US Air Force Academy and continue to attend games at reunions and follow their progress each week.

Favorite month in the valley?

The summer is special because I always have family visiting. I love the fall when the leaves are turning, and elk are grazing on our property. January is best and my favorite month when I cross country ski to town with my wife, Suzanne, for her birthday.

 

Roland Mason

District 3 county commissioner candidate

Let’s get to a big issue: What do you think of the Brush Creek affordable housing proposal and the process used to analyze it thus far?

Brush Creek has turned affordable housing into front-page news for the past few years and although the process has been difficult, the current state of the proposal is closer to a workable solution than the initial proposal. I believe water availability will be the ultimate limiting factor for the number of units. I applaud Mt. Crested Butte and Crested Butte for holding joint council work sessions to discuss concerns around the project. Communication and collaboration between towns is critical right now. I support 100 percent of the units being rentals if the Gunnison Valley Regional Housing Authority (GVRHA) oversees deed restrictions and lease agreements. Whether it’s the current proposal or a new one, the county, Mt. Crested Butte and Crested Butte need to start talking about the transportation aspects for this area now.

If I were to grade the Gatesco project moving through the LUR process, I would give it a C. Fortunately, the Land Use Resolution (LUR) is a “Living Document” that is reviewed and amended when needed, it has been modified eight times in the last 10 years. The Gatesco proposal is the largest, most dense project to enter into the LUR to date, but I believe this is the tip of the iceberg. If our national economy continues to improve, we will see larger projects entering the LUR. As commissioner, I will push to implement a pre-LUR process centered on public input. The public needs the ability to weigh in and set general guidelines on potential areas of development. We need a process that gives the public a voice on the front end, and the developer general parameters to work within. At the end of the day, we need a more transparent process in place so that future projects will be met with less heartache and frustration.

How will you integrate your job as county commissioner with your other responsibilities such as family, business endeavors, volunteer work?

The county commissioner position is a full-time job and I will treat it as such. From my experience on Town Council, I understand the flexibility of time needed to accomplish the job. My construction and snowplow business is a family endeavor. My wife, mother, father, and brothers have stepped up their responsibilities in order for me to campaign and transition into the commissioner job once elected.

How do you plan to be accessible to your constituents outside of meetings?

Fortunately, I live here year around. I am in the county 12 months out of the year. Aside from short vacations, that is not going to change. I purchased a dedicated cell phone number for the campaign and will keep it available for any constituent to reach me. I will be available through email and social media, and I plan to hold some sort of monthly informal meeting, similar to Coffee With the Council that Crested Butte did a few years ago.

Favorite sports team?

I am a Rockies and a Broncos fan. I also keep tabs on the CSU Rams teams.

Favorite month in the valley?

That’s a hard one. Each month brings so many unique facets to our lives here. Probably December. Skiing is decent. My birthday, Christmas and New Year’s are all in the same week. Typically there is some time off from work and more time spent with the family in December.

 

Mark Mykol

County sheriff

Where do you stand on the county’s transition out of the law enforcement contract with Mt. Crested Butte? What do you plan to do with the situation if elected?

The decision to transition out of the contract actually started in early 2016 and I support it. The sheriff and county commissioners reviewed numerous facts to come to their decision. When I heard about this, I was excited. I was already spending as much time as I could in the North Valley and fell in love with the area.

I am excited because I have never been afraid of change. I look at change as an opportunity. This is an opportunity to increase law enforcement coverage, response time, community involvement and to strengthen relationships with other agencies. I am confident that the Sheriff’s Office will attend to our county extremely well. Our deputies have the mentality that they have a county to patrol and not just a square mile area. Every day they make me proud and put their best effort forward for our county.

North Valley residents have been asking for more law enforcement presence. Due to growth, there is a need for more public safety. Rapid response time is crucial for the safety of our citizens. That is always our priority. With dedicated officers to the North Valley, response time will remain as good, if not better, than it has been. A permanent substation is in the works through the Capital Improvement Project, also at no additional cost to our citizens.

Our plan is already in place and we have been executing it. I have listened to the concerns from North Valley residents. We are receiving great feedback and support from them due to our increased presence. We have put together a strategic plan and have support from within the county structure. Our strategic plan has come with very little cost and has prepared our office for the next 20 years.

How is law enforcement changing as the community grows? 

We have to be proactive and not reactive. Your training must be current and cutting-edge. Your team must be enthusiastic and cannot stop learning. We have to be involved in the community and listen to the community. We meet with numerous organizations to discuss and resolve issues. We have a proactive strategic plan for the future.

The tools of an officer have changed, especially the number one tool—the brain. Our officers are educated and trained by professionals that bring out the changes that we encounter, such as interacting with mental health issues, substance abuse, active aggressors, mass casualty incidents and cumulative duty stress.

Your leadership must be flexible. Every day is a new experience. When encountering a citizen you must be able to communicate with them properly. Every individual has a different learning style and you need to be versatile to teach and lead.

Is the department adequately funded by the county commissioners? 

Yes, I have been involved in the 2017, 2018, and 2019 budgets. I can say that all the years that I recall, a substantial amount of funds were saved by the Sheriff’s Office, returning this money back to the General Fund, by being fiscally responsible.

Favorite cop show on TV? 

Homicide Hunter, Lt. Joe Kenda.

Favorite month in the valley? 

September.

 

John Gallowich

County sheriff

Where do you stand on the county’s transition out of the law enforcement contract with Mt. Crested Butte that currently covers the north end of the valley? What do you plan to do with the situation if elected?

My first response is “Why are we doing this?” This does not appear to be a fiscally responsible move and where is the overall plan. I have not yet heard an explanation as to why we are making this move at this time. Fiscally, this is very expensive for our taxpayers and we will pay far more and receive less coverage. County residents will lose some of the services that they currently have with Mt. Crested Butte Police Department, such as VIN verifications, applicant fingerprints, etc. There is no long- term plan, such as the location of a sub-station. As your sheriff, I would oppose this administration’s idea of putting a sub-station in the Crested Butte community school, as reported in the Gunnison Country Times, June 28, 2018 issue, page A6. We must also consider the high turnover rate in the Patrol division and the Detention division, and how this will affect this transition.

First, my goal will be to provide excellent law enforcement throughout the entire county. This will be a significant challenge given the path that the current administration has chosen; which is to provide service and protection to the North end of the valley with three new deputies; a service now provided by eight well trained, experienced Mt. Crested Butte officers. This approach is not fair to our citizens or the deputies. Some might say that the North end will be better served. This is not true. The Agreement of Mutual Aid states that its purpose is “rendering of reciprocal assistance to other parties in situations where the capabilities of the other party are insufficient to meet its law enforcement responsibilities due to extreme circumstances. This means plane crashes, flooding and major events, not routine patrol or routine calls. We will no longer have Mt. Crested Butte handling calls for the Sheriff’s Office. Let’s not forget the protection and assistance that is currently provided to our other First Responders, such as EMS, Fire and Search and Rescue. With only three deputies assigned to the north end of the valley, working 40 hours a week, two entire 10-hour shifts will be left uncovered each week or 104 per year. This does not include the use of holiday and sick time, training and vacation time, which will significantly increase the number of shifts left uncovered.

From a fiscal stand point, we the taxpayers paid $139,000 a year for the services of eight well trained officers, who know the people as well as the geographical layout of the north end of the valley, this is very important when responding to a call. The current path set out by this administration will negatively affect the response time. This is not acceptable when responding to emergency calls.

Let’s be transparent; this new three deputy plan will cost in excess of $500,000, compared to the $139,000 the Sheriff’s Office is currently paying.

As your sheriff, I will serve and protect our entire county. Specifically, I will maintain or improve the service on the north end of the valley. I will do this by reaching out to the Mt. Crested Butte and/or the Crested Butte Marshal’s Office to work on developing a contract that will ensure the service and the protection of the north end of the valley. By using this approach, we will not have to drain our resources from the south end keeping the entire county safe.

How is law enforcement changing as the community grows?

As our county continues to grow, calls for service and protection will increase. The sheriff’s office must be prepared to grow in order to handle the increased request for service. This can be addressed through training, job stability (reducing the turnover rate), fiscal responsibly and if necessary, an increase in manpower. Our mission will remain the same: to serve and protect the citizens.

Is the department adequately funded by the county commissioners?

I believe that our county commissioners will adequately fund the sheriff’s office when presented with requests for funds backed by accurate facts, data and complete plans. As your sheriff, I will work with the county commissioners with honesty and integrity.

Favorite cop show on television?

I don’t usually watch cop shows. I watch sports and National Geographic.

Favorite month in the valley?

September.

 

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