Running for elected office at any level is not easy. A candidate must put himself or herself out before friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances and strangers and take actual positions meant to define what it is they will do as a representative of the public. So, kudos this year to both Democrat Laura Puckett Daniels and Republican Rich Evans who are running to represent the North Valley district on the board of Gunnison County Commissioners. And a shout out to departing commissioner Roland Mason who chose to step away from the board after one term as he found himself juggling a busy young family and a growing business that both needed his attention. Being in the public eye as a county commissioner takes a ton of time and for Roland to choose to focus on personal issues at this point in his life is commendable.
As the election season has progressed the CB News has asked weekly questions of both Rich and Laura and hosted a public forum for citizens to do the same. While it is evident that both are sincere in wanting to do what is best for the citizens of the community, it is extremely clear that Laura has a deeper understanding of the county issues, a more thorough connection to the processes that can impact the local issues and the wider breadth of knowledge necessary to be a good and effective representative on the county board.
Rich is admittedly a relative newcomer to the valley. That actually matters when running for one of the highest elected positions in the county where decisions can immediately impact all of us. Evans has done some good things like signing up to be a substitute teacher for the local school district in a time of need and he has proposed at least one “interesting” idea to call out the Colorado National Guard to make picking up your Amazon packages at the P.O. easier (sounds like a National Space Force job to me). Laura however, has been here long enough to get involved in a number of aspects in the community from being a teacher and coach at the CB Community School, being an employee and/or board member in the recreation community as an administrator of the Nordic and mountain bike communities, and heading the Gunnison County planning commission which thrust her into the storm of dealing with some of the hardest issues faced in the county. The quality and quantity of time spent in the valley is not unimportant.
No matter how well intentioned the effort “to be a part of something bigger than myself” is as a reason to run for county commissioner as noted by Rich, experience and knowledge matters more to actually get things done and shape policy and Laura is much better positioned on that front. Laura has already put in the time, and it shows. Laura too has demonstrated a desire to understand the needs, aspirations and various pathways to guide a growing and changing community.
Puckett Daniels has been a tireless campaigner the last several months, knocking on doors, travelling all over the county, talking and listening to people on all sides of the issues. It is apparent that she is naturally thoughtful when analyzing issues and that translates to a smooth demeanor and clear vision when making her case on various topics. With an open mind, she is not afraid to dig deep into the issues and take a stand after she has thought through the impacts. She understands the need to work together to get things done and not just throw bombs and platitudes to placate a political base.
Laura has said that in her hundreds of conversations with citizens these last many months, the idea of making sure workers and the middle class can stay here rises to the top of the issues list. She understands that change in the county is not going to stop but it can be guided through the political process and that is what she wants to do. Retooling the existing Gunnison Valley Regional Housing Authority and possibly expanding an already large board seems a bit too wonky for me, but she sees an underutilized tool and has an idea to make it better. Good on her — she might make something important work better.
Laura has stepped up during this campaign season and demonstrated solid qualities of leadership, thoughtfulness and dedication to the community in general. The voters of Gunnison County can’t ask for much more than that from someone running to sit on the board of county commissioners. It seems clear to me that LPD has worked hard and has consistently shown the aptitude needed to sit on the BOCC and have an immediate impact. Laura Puckett Daniels has earned your vote for Gunnison County Commissioner in 2022.