Trio of women early entrants in commission races

Christi Flynn

Jana Gerow

Rose Pugliese

With nearly a year and a half to go before the 2012 general election, three women already are lining up bids to fill two spots on the Mesa County Commission.

Construction management company owner Jana Gerow of Grand Junction, farmer and rancher Christi Flynn of Fruita and lawyer Rose Pugliese of Palisade have filed affidavits and formed candidate committees with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. Gerow and Flynn are seeking to replace Commissioner Craig Meis, while Pugliese is vying for the spot that will be vacated by Commissioner Janet Rowland.

Meis, the District 1 commissioner, and Rowland, the District 3 commissioner, were elected in 2004 and re-elected in 2008 and will be forced out by term limits.

Pugliese said part of her motivation in declaring herself a candidate so early is the primary election being moved up from August to June.

“Getting my name out there early is definitely an advantage for me,” she said.

Gerow said she decided to create a candidate committee now because she has a variety of commitments that will keep her tied up for the next six months. She figured it would be tougher to jump into the race after that.

Like Pugliese, Flynn saw an edge in getting her name into the public domain.

“I need to get my name out there and what I stand for,” Flynn said.

None of the women has held elected office, although Pugliese ran for the School District 51 Board of Education in 2009 and lost to Greg Mikolai.

The 32-year-old Pugliese is a Republican and president of the Western Slope Conservative Alliance, a tea party group. She said she has been thinking about running for commissioner for quite a while.

“I wanted to make sure it was something I was willing to do and ready to do, and I think I am,” she said.

Pugliese said she is developing a strategic plan for her campaign and familiarizing herself with the issues facing the county.

Two areas she knows she will focus on are ensuring law enforcement has sufficient resources and working with local businesses to boost the economy.

“I’m concerned about young people,” she said. “A lot of them have to leave Mesa County because they can’t find jobs.”

Gerow said she spent years helping identify candidates for office, then had the tables turned on her late last year when a couple of people suggested she run for office.

The 53-year-old, who started Development Construction Services in 1998, is running as an unaffiliated candidate.

She said she was a Democrat when she lived on the Front Range, then switched to the Republican Party 14 years ago.

In February, she ended her affiliation with any party, deciding it better reflects who she is. She shrugs off doubts expressed by others that she can win an election as an unaffiliated candidate.

“I just don’t see this office as an office that has reason to be affiliated,” Gerow said. “You’re not voting on partisan issues, you’re supporting the county. I’m somewhat moderate in my way of thinking. I want to represent every citizen in the county equally.”

Flynn, 47, is a Republican, a six-year member of the county Planning Commission and a third-generation Fruita resident.

She and her husband own Flynn Farms, an operation that encompasses 400 acres and 1,700 head of cattle.

She said the county needs to support farmers and ranchers and, to reduce dependency on foreign energy, support the oil and gas industry.

The third member of the county board, District 2 Commissioner Steve Acquafresca, will be term-limited in 2014.


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