Council candidates discuss public vs. private roles


Meet the candidates

Candidate forums this week:

• 6:30–8 p.m. Thursday at the Mesa County Fairgrounds at the Jockey Club.

Hosted by COIN, Concerns of Impacted Neighborhoods, the 7th Street Historic Neighborhood and Orchard Mesa Neighbors in Action. Panel and audience questions planned.

• 12–1 p.m. Friday at Two Rivers Convention Center. The forum is being hosted by the Mesa County Republican Party. Lunch is $15 per person with a prepaid reservation. A question-and-answer session will follow the forum as time allows. Reservations required:  Martin Chazen at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

About 30 Grand Junction residents Tuesday got a look at the candidates running for three open Grand Junction City Council seats. The forum, hosted by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, had candidates answer mostly business-related questions generated by audience members.

Council candidates for the single at-large seat are Aaron Norris, Jacob Richards, John Ballagh, Joshua Wussick and Jim Doody. Sam Susuras and Bennett Boeschenstein are running unopposed in districts B and C, respectively.

Wussick did not attend Tuesday’s forum because of a work commitment.

Candidates were asked about the role local government should have in providing services, specifically for food and beverage contracts and for ambulance services.

Ballagh said city leaders should proceed “as reasonably as possible,” and the private sector should be allowed to handle it.

The city shouldn’t be competing with the private sector, Richards said, but ambulance services should remain a public service.

Doody said those kind of decisions should be “performance-based.”

The role of government is to provide for the health and welfare of its residents, and the city should look closely at ambulance services, Norris said. Food contracts are not essential services, and if the private sector “can do it at a better rate of return, then they should do it,” he said.

Boeschenstein said he remembered in the 1980s when a combination of public and several private ambulance services in Grand Junction caused chaos in the overall emergency response. He said ambulance services should stay in the public arena, but “there is still a role for private ambulances to take people back and forth.”

Susuras said the city should stay away from bidding on services the private sector can handle.

The election is April 5, and registered voters will receive mail-in ballots in March.


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