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Meet the Candidates: October 19, 2018

Roland Mason

District 3 county commissioner candidate

There is a perception by some that you will be so busy with a young family and your business that you will not have the time for the commissioner work and be overshadowed by the current board members, Jonathan Houck and John Messner—and too often simply fall in line with their positions. Are these valid issues? 

Absolutely not! I understand the commissioner position is a full-time job and I will work for the county electorate on a full-time basis. I believe raising a young family, owning a business, and working every day to support that family are strengths as a commissioner. It shows connectivity to the community and the tangible reasons I am dedicated to guiding Gunnison County into the future. The decisions I make as commissioner will affect my family and business right alongside the rest of the business owners and workers in our county.

As for being overshadowed by the current commissioners, I fully disagree. If anything, I will bring a unique voice to the current board. As a lifelong resident and business owner, I am connected to both Gunnison and Crested Butte. I have a deep understanding of the issues and will always make my decisions based off of what is best for our county as a whole. Will there be times I agree with the other commissioners? Yes. Will there be times we disagree? Absolutely. The ability to create honest working relationships through collaboration is what really matters. Those are the principles on which my business is founded and that is the mindset that led to eight successful years on Crested Butte Town Council. Collaboration is much different from “simply falling in line.”

You are both running under the banner of a political party. How tied are you to the local, state and national positions (and the local people) in those parties? 

I am a moderate Democrat. I received support from the Democratic Party, but party affiliation does not define my decision-making. I initially became involved in politics because of specific issues that were presented to our community at the time. I like local politics because the decisions made will directly affect the people in our community. One’s party affiliation is also much less important than the issues at hand and the individual elected. I believe local elected officials must be trusted members of the community, who are available to the people they represent and transparent in their decision making process. I will approach all issues through the lens of preserving our values and common-sense decision making.

Are you comfortable with the county salary structures?

Yes. I believe our current salary structure is competitive in the state of Colorado. It is important to retain qualified staff and attract new experienced employees when jobs become available. I believe in paying for qualified leadership. That leadership sets the tone for the success of each department, which in turn leads to an efficient and well run government.

Were you comfortable with the outcome of the Gunnison County Sheriff’s Office and Gunnison County settling a lawsuit with a former employee (Scott Jackson) for hundreds of thousands of dollars? How would you ensure that type of situation doesn’t arise again?

As a community member, I am never “comfortable” when tax dollars are spent in litigation. From the information I have on the matter, I believe this lawsuit sheds light on the problems within the current Sheriff’s Department and its administration. It is up to the voters to ensure a new leadership is put in place. Electing John Gallowich will ensure that type of situation does not happen again.

Favorite drink? 

Arnold Palmer with the occasional John Daily.

Do you prefer Hannity, Maddow or Cooper?

I don’t spend a lot of time listening to the talking heads on cable TV. I use MetRec’s digital TV for local news and sports. Netflix is my main source for entertainment programming. I love our local papers and value their unique voices. For state and national news, I rely on a few news feeds that include the Denver Post, the Washington Post, the Wall St. Journal, and a variety of others.

Last good book you read?

The Rise of the Naked Economy by Jeremy Neuner.

 

Bob Schutt

District 3 county commissioner candidate

There is a perception by some that you are a smart but relatively new and well-off resident to the valley that doesn’t understand some of the nuances of the community and how to best accomplish things in a sometime fractious environment. Also, can you relate to and speak to the blue collars in the community? Are these valid issues?

Am I “homegrown” in the Gunnison Valley? No. Am I “new” to the Gunnison Valley? Absolutely not! I have strong family ties to Gunnison County. My great uncle was Gunnison County Clerk and Recorder in 1896 until his death. My father-in-law taught in Crested Butte at the Smith Ranch Law Science Academy during the 1950s. I have been in Colorado since the mid 1960s and have continuously owned the home in Crested Butte I currently live in since 1985, far longer than my opponent has owned a home in the Gunnison Valley. Admittedly, I was not born here, and I am at a loss to understand what relevant experience for this position would have come in that period from birth through high school. As in much of Colorado, not many locals here are life-long residents. Gunnison County is my home and only home.

Do I understand the nuances of the community? As a land and homeowner in Gunnison County for over 30 years, I have worked with and continually encounter some of the nuances of the community. It is not a fractious environment if you treat everyone equally and fairly. I have successfully lived and worked all over the world learning broadly based approaches and solutions to problems and management of a business which I bring as my experience to Gunnison County. Being a member of Rotary and serving on the board of trustees of the Gunnison Valley Hospital board, I have an appreciation for the desires and needs of all citizens of the community

Can I relate to blue collar workers? I consider “blue collar” an outdated and stereotypic term. I do not use it myself. As a practicing physician, I treated all individuals equally without regard to their race, gender, or social economic background. I continue to work several times each year taking care of indigent patients in Central America. My ancestors were Holland Dutch immigrants to upstate New York. My wife’s family were Irish immigrants to Long Island, New York. My parents could not afford to send me to college, so I accepted an appointment to the U. S. Air Force Academy. I became the first member of my family to earn a college degree. This resulted in my serving in Vietnam and using the GI Bill to attend medical school. I am, indeed, fortunate to now enjoy “financial security” but believe it has, in a large part, resulted from hard work and dedication. This same financial security allows me to treat the county commissioner position as public service, my only job.

You are both running under the banner of a political party. How tied are you to the local, state and national positions (and the local people) in those parties?

Parties have no place in a local election!!! Notably, many residents have signs in their yards representing candidates nominated by different parties. You should vote for the best qualified candidate as your representative. As your county commissioner, I always first consider the best interest of our county residents, regardless of how others might try to politicize me or issues. I am not obligated to follow any local, state, or national party positions. I am appalled by the partisanship of our senators and representatives paralyzing and creating a dysfunctional form of government and gridlock. If you want to know how I stand on an issue, just ask me. Don’t expect me to support the party line. On social and environmental issues, I am considered by some as quite liberal. I care about people, renewable energy, and preserving nature and wildlife. On financial issues, I am more conservative. With my business experience, as well as training in advanced management courses at Kellogg School of Business and Harvard School of Business, I know how to manage our county financial resources. I believe the county can to do well financially if we spend our money prudently. I usually support tax increases for essential services but rarely for special interest “tax and spend” programs. I am not a rubber stamp for anyone.

Are you comfortable with the county salary structures?

No! As an elected commissioner, I will do a serious review of county salaries and positions. The county administration salaries are higher than any adjacent county or nearby resort county, all having a larger population base. I will spend the County’s money like I spend my own money. Very, Very, carefully.

Were you comfortable with the outcome of the Gunnison County Sheriff’s Office and Gunnison County settling a lawsuit with a former employee (Scott Jackson) for hundreds of thousands of dollars? How would you ensure that type of situation doesn’t arise again?

Bob Schutt

Of course not! First of all, the election this year could present a situation similar to the Jackson lawsuit. Should Mr. Gallowich win, and Mr. Mykol continue as undersheriff having previously run against Mr. Gallowich for sheriff, potential conflict may occur. I will make every effort to lead the county away from the adverse financial situation created by the “type of Jackson situation” referred to as well as any other similar situations. I cannot guarantee that type of situation will not occur again. Unfortunately, our society has become quite litigious. My observation of our present legal system is that it frequently results in no winners. The system is an incredibly expensive, acrimonious, and an uncertain way to resolve a dispute. I will support all efforts to make sure county officials and staff get the necessary and important human resources training to better ensure we are not discriminating against anyone. I will be very proactive to make sure there is not a repeat of a “Jackson type” incident.

Favorite drink?

Water! It is healthy, necessary for life, and the best thirst quencher.

Do you prefer Hannity, Maddow or Cooper?

I strongly believe in the freedom of the press and free speech. It is difficult for me to understand how our major news networks, magazines, and newspapers have become so partisan. It is extremely disruptive to our government and way of life. That being said, I am an independent thinker and take away what I believe is being reported in a fair and unbiased way. Yesterday I listened to both Anderson Cooper 360 and Sean Hannity. Both had segments I enjoyed. I rarely turn on MSNBC with Rachel Maddow.

Last good book you read?

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, a novel by Mitch Albom. Spanish war orphan born in a burning church and raised by a blind guitar teacher, Frankie Presto was gifted with extraordinary musical abilities that shape not only his life but the lives of those around him. A delightful and easy read for those that love music.

 

John Gallowich

County sheriff

Turnover in the Sheriff’s Office seems to be an issue at the moment. Is it valid? What will you do as leader of the county Sheriff’s Office to build a team that stays in the county and gains experience within the department?

This is absolutely a valid issue. Currently the turnover rate is so high that the Sheriffs Office can no longer properly staff the Patrol Division. The Sheriff’s Office 2018 budget has allocated 12 patrol deputies. At this time at least three of our deputies have less than six months on the road and the office is advertising to hire four replacement patrol deputies. This simply tells us that out of the 12 positions only five patrol deputies have six months or more experience with Gunnison County Sheriff’s Office.

With the current rate of turnover, we will not be able to provide the level of service and protection that the citizens of Gunnison County deserve. In all my years of law enforcement, I have never seen or heard of such a high turnover rate. This has a very negative affect on the citizens of our county. From a fiscal standpoint we are putting money into a broken system, continually paying for a hiring process and the training of new deputies only to fire them or watch them leave.

I disagree with the administration stating that the turnover is chiefly due to salaries. The Sheriff’s Office is competitive with the other three law enforcement agencies in this county including Gunnison P.D., Crested Butte M.O., and Mt Crested Butte Police Department. I would refer to the Gunnison County leadership manual: (Study after study shows that people leave because of their direct supervisors, more so than any other reason). The sheriff’s policy requires 18 months’ experience before being assigned as a training officer. We have deputies with nine months serving as a training officer. This is clearly not a healthy training program. The current administration believes, as documented in the Gunnison Country Times, that turnover helps improve our hiring process. This is an opportunity that I don’t believe we need; let’s hire them, train then and keep them. Due to the turnover rate, the Sheriff’s Office clearly has the lowest level of experience in the patrol divisions of all agencies in the valley.

When I become sheriff, I will evaluate every deputy and place them in a position that will best suit their abilities and the needs of the department. I will try to hire from local applicants who already know and are vested in the community; men and women who want the kind of lifestyle that our county has to offer. I will create a stable, respectful work environment for all patrol deputies, detention deputies and anyone employed at the Sheriff’s Office.

Give me an example of how you would advise deputies to handle a community policing situation in the north end of the valley that may not be standard protocol in other places.

Community policing should be an intricate part of the Sheriff’s Office service to the citizens. Proactive patrolling in the county and positive, friendly interaction with the public will foster trust. Just driving through an area and not stopping to talk to people is not enough. We need to let our citizens know that we are interested in their concerns. Children need to know that deputies are not to be feared but are there to help and protect them. When our deputies are vested in our communities, their concern will show. I will expect this interaction not only in the north end of the valley but throughout the county. When the Sheriff’s Office is understaffed, reactive patrolling is the result. By stabilizing the turnover rate, we should be fully staffed with well-trained deputies to do the proactive patrolling that our citizens deserve.

Were you comfortable with the outcome of the Sheriff’s Office and Gunnison County settling a lawsuit with a former employee (Scott Jackson) for hundreds of thousands of dollars? How would you ensure that type of situation doesn’t arise again? 

I am not comfortable that our county was sued for violating the First Amendment rights of an employee. One would think that the Sheriff’s Office and county settled this lawsuit for such a large amount (in excess of $400,000) to avoid a possible larger payout.

I will ensure this type of situation will not arise again in my administration because neither I nor my deputies will violate people’s constitutional rights.

Favorite book?

Whatever book my grandson wants me to read to him.

Favorite place to take your wife or family to dinner?

We like to mix it up—whatever we are in the mood for.

 

Mark Mykol

County sheriff

Turnover in the Sheriff’s Office seems to be an issue at the moment. Is it valid? What will you do as leader of the county Sheriff’s Office to build a team that stays in the county and gains experience within the department?

Turnover is a statewide and national issue throughout law enforcement agencies. It seems to be an issue here likely because it is campaign season. Turnover happens, not only in law enforcement, but construction, dispatch, retail, small business, the university, pretty much everywhere. It is not isolated to our area.

There are numerous factors that contribute to turnover: bad hiring practices from prior administrations, hiring officers looking for a department to help launch their career, some find that the career is not a fit for them, one employee had extreme policy violations, another moved closer to family, sometimes character and integrity is not high enough to be part of our team, etc. The list goes on and on.

Turnover creates opportunities for both parties involved. For every officer that has moved on, we have the opportunity to replace them with a better qualified officer.

We are already reaping the benefits of these hires, and the next administration will too.

Turnover also helps us improve our hiring processes. We are already addressing how we hire. Looking for officers that are anchored in our community, mature, have a passion for law enforcement. Look for red flags earlier. Involve our current officers in the hiring. Applicants shadow officers and ride along with them. Score prospects on their attitude, involvement, and enthusiasm. Hire only the best that have high standards of character and integrity. Conduct an extensive background review. Conducting behavioral-based interviews, realistic job previews, employee recognition, and team building exercises.

Another plus out of the turnover issue is that as leaders we have been receiving training in the most current, cutting edge leadership styles targeting the turnover issue.

Give me an example of how you would advise deputies to handle a community policing situation in the north end of the valley that may not be standard protocol in other places.

The North Valley is still part of Gunnison County. I do not recognize a division, we are all one.

Every situation, regardless where it is located, is given the same consideration. Every part of the county is equal in the eyes of the Sheriff’s Office.

Were you comfortable with the outcome of the Sheriff’s Office and Gunnison County settling a lawsuit with a former employee (Scott Jackson) for hundreds of thousands of dollars? How would you ensure that type of situation doesn’t arise again?

The outcome is done and gone and I am able to move forward. Being called upon as a witness, I will not be able to go into specifics regarding the case.

Our nation has seen lawsuits on the rise for quite some time. The Sheriff’s Office has a great team of county attorneys to assist us with advice regarding any concerns. Our office walks a straight line. Our hiring practices have changed and only individuals with a high level of integrity and character get an opportunity to be part of our team.

Favorite book?

Besides the Bible, it would be Candidate Survival 101.

Favorite place to take your wife or family for dinner? 

Fried chicken on the boat at the reservoir.

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