Decision opens the door for Daniels
[ By Mark Reaman ]
The incumbent Gunnison County commissioner representing the North Valley has decided to not seek reelection. Roland Mason was elected in 2018 as a Democrat after serving eight years on the Crested Butte town council but he said this week that the time commitment given his personal circumstances led him to the decision not to run again.
“It was the culmination of a lot of things,” Mason explained Tuesday. “The biggest was the amount of time I’ve been putting in with the job while trying to keep my business afloat along with watching my three-year-old, eight-year-old and 10-year-old daughters grow up. Add in COVID and the daycare situation as my wife now has a full-time job at the Center for the Arts and all these things made me reevaluate my future on the board. I look at it as a chance to step back and do things like finish my house and take in my needs and the needs of my family.”
Mason said the decision might have been delayed a bit but Laura Puckett Daniels’ announcement earlier this month that she planned to seek his District 3 commissioner seat as a fellow Democrat made it more clear that taking the time to focus on a summer primary along with a general election in the fall would take up significant amounts of time.
“Laura’s announcement that she would run in the primary made me think of the time involved,” he said. “I know that having someone like Laura represent that seat would be good. She has some experience and would do a good job. That influenced me as well. I plan to stay involved and down the road could return at some level of county politics.”
Mason said time as county commissioner is very different than as a Crested Butte councilmember. He said the last three years have been filled with a variety of issues and the commitment is much more stringent at that level.
“It’s been a long, strange road we’ve traveled and I still have another year left,” he said. “I think my leadership role has been good and I haven’t tried to push a personal agenda but rather listen to the community. The county is in a good, competitive place and came out of the pandemic in great shape, especially compared to other counties. We maintained our staff, our finances and our projects.”
Mason said he will not be missing meetings and plans to complete projects he has been intimately involved with like the overcrowding issue in Marble and the hopeful conclusion of buttoning up the Mount Emmons mining situation. “It is the closest we’ve ever been to accomplishing what we have wanted for decades with Red Lady so I hope that can be done soon,” he said.
Puckett Daniels said she has the utmost respect for Mason. “I am grateful to Roland for his service to this county over the last four years, especially through this pandemic,” she said. “I deeply respect Roland, and I hope to learn from his experience as a county commissioner. I look forward to working together in the coming months and years to best serve the people of Gunnison County. With this news, I’m excited to focus on the general election, getting out into the community to speak with everyone about the opportunities and obstacles ahead of us.”
Gunnison County Republican Party chairperson Stu Asay said he expects whoever emerges to run from the Democratic side to face a Republican challenger. “The county GOP caucus will be held March 5, and the county assembly will be that afternoon,” he said. “I believe we’ll have a candidate confirmed at that time. At this time, it’s only discussion.”
Gunnison County commission chair Jonathan Houck said when Mason finishes his terms he will be missed. “Roland is a thoughtful, pragmatic decision maker,” Houck said. “As commissioners, we too had to face the impacts of COVID at a personal level. I am sure the challenges of having young kids, the struggle with childcare and the demands on the building community which is his business all added up. I certainly respect his decision to focus on family. He has the skills and temperament to do this job so to see him analyze the situation and be at peace with a hard decision is something I respect. I will miss working with Roland when his term ends, but he has another year on the board and we still have a lot to do.”
Mason will finish his term that runs through November and he said he plans to finish strong with his commissioner duties.