Candidates split on ballot proposals for bonds

The two Mesa County commissioners seeking re-election are taking the middle ground when it comes to ballot questions on bonds for new schools and new public safety facilities in Grand Junction.

Their Democratic opponents, meanwhile, say they support the school bond measure, but are split in voicing support for the public safety initiative.

“I haven’t made a decision on (the school bond issue) at this time,” District 1 Commissioner Craig Meis said. “I want to better understand their student numbers and their student growth as far as what they are asking the voters for capital construction.”

He stopped short of opposing the public safety proposal.

The city has put a lot of money in transportation and “none in the public safety bucket,” Meis said.

“They are now asking us to pay for the sins of the past.”

Dan Robinson, a Democrat challenging Meis for his seat, said he is remaining neutral on the public safety question because he does not live in the city.

“If I were a commissioner, I would take a clear position,” he said. “Because then you do have a responsibility, as a commissioner, to represent the entire county’s interest.”

He did, however, as a former member of the Mesa County School District Board of Education, take a stand on the school bond issue.

“An investment in our kids, what could be more important to our future than investing in their education?” he said.

In the District 3 race, Commissioner Janet Rowland said she is neutral on the public safety initiative, chiefly because Grand Junction Mayor Gregg Palmer asked the commissioners, and the commission candidates, to remain neutral.

“This is a city issue and not a county issue,” Palmer said, adding only city residents will be voting on the measure.

“He didn’t want political season to impact their ballot issue,” Rowland said.

She also is neutral on the school bond issue, something her Democratic opponent, Dickie Lewis, said is inexcusable.

“I’m going to support the public safety bond issue. I am going to support the school bond issue,” Lewis said. “She (Rowland) should have an opinion. You are not neutral on public safety and education.”

Rowland said she has a track record of supporting schools and public safety, but there are more issues at play this year than meet the eye.

“I don’t know if he (Lewis) just wasn’t paying attention in 2004 or what, but I came out in support of the school bond in 2004. I am not running and hiding, and I am not afraid to take a stand,” Rowland said.

“Quite frankly, I am concerned about our economy. Before I can take a stand on a tax increase I’m going to need to see if (Gov.) Bill Ritter is going to single-handedly shut down the energy industry on the Western Slope. We will need to find that out first before I can take a stand.”

Robinson said Rowland’s comments regarding the governor do nothing to further the debate.

“That is not helpful. It is not even intelligent,” he said. “This good-and-evil mind-set that seems to emerge in our political debate is absolutely so unhelpful and uninformed.”

Rowland said tough economic times require creative thinking, not automatic tax increases.

“I don’t try and turn to a tax to solve every problem,” she said.


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