Two more toss hats into race for county commission seats

Woody Walcher

Ed Stephens

Two men with small-business backgrounds have declared themselves candidates for the two Mesa County commissioner seats that will come open in 2013.

East Orchard Mesa resident Woody Walcher is vying for the District 3 seat being vacated by term-limited Commissioner Janet Rowland, while Grand Junction resident Ed Stephens will compete for the District 1 post being vacated by term-limited Commissioner Craig Meis. Both have filed candidate affidavits with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.

The 69-year-old Walcher said he decided to run for the board as a result of his three years’ worth of work on the county Planning Commission.

He said he applauds the county’s work in recent years to streamline its development review process and emphasized such efforts need to continue if the county wants to rebuild the local economy.

“When we do that, we will attract the businesses to keep Mesa County headed the direction we want to go,” he said.

In that same vein, he said he opposes the idea of adding a 1 percent sales tax in the commercial areas of Clifton and Fruitvale.

Walcher, a Republican, said he has lived in 17 different cities and towns in Colorado, although his roots in Mesa County reach back to the 1950s.

He has owned seven businesses over that time, ranging from a stock car racing to air quality testing. All but one succeeded, he says, with the exception being a trucking business that went bankrupt during the 1980s oil-shale bust.

Stephens has long been working behind the local political scene of the Mesa County Republican Party. Now he wants to step out from behind the curtain.

“It’s time to step that involvement up a bit,” he said. “It’s time to run for office and see if I can make a difference.”

Stephens, 58, said the primary reason he’s seeking one of the two seats is his dissatisfaction with government spending. He criticized the federal and state governments for “failing” to live within their means, and while he said local elected officials have “been doing pretty good” in handling their budgets, he suggested there’s room for improvement.

He said local boards need to be cautious with increased spending and avoid seeking more money from taxpayers.

“At a time when we still have rampant unemployment, the people don’t have (the money) to give,” he said.

Stephens has spent the last five years working as a real estate agent with Century 21 Cole and Company Realty. Prior to that, he owned and operated a waste tire recycling facility in the Grand Valley.

Walcher joins Paul Nelson and Rose Pugliese in the District 3 race. Stephens joins Wes D’Aponti, Christi Flynn, Jana Gerow, Ken Henry, John Justman and John Leane in the District 1 race.


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