Companies tread lightly on public displays of support

In terms of finances, City Market has proven to be one of the biggest proponents of Grand Junction’s proposed public safety initiative, donating $5,000 to the campaign pushing for a sales-tax increase and a relaxation of the state’s revenue-collection limitation.

In terms of signage, however, the grocer has taken a decidedly neutral stance on the $98 million project that would create seven new police, fire and administration buildings.

Three weeks after cutting a check to Citizens for a Safer Grand Junction, City Market yanked a pair of $200 signs on its property at 12th Street and Patterson Road urging people to vote “Yes on 2A and 2B for a Safer Grand Junction.”

City Market President Phyllis Norris, who donated $1,000 herself to the campaign, approved the placement of the signs when approached by the committee, but parent company Kroger ordered their removal after a citizen complained to City Market’s Grand Junction corporate office.

“We try not to be highly visible in terms of our position on a particular legislative issue. That doesn’t mean we don’t, at times, take a position, and we may provide financial support to a particular position. It’s not unusual to do that,” City Market spokesman Trail Daugherty said Monday in explaining the company’s apparent contrast in stances on the dual ballot measures.

City Market’s is one example of the dilemma local businesses can face during the election season: Take a public stand on a political issue at the risk of potentially alienating customers.

“We choose not to be highly visible because you’re bound to offend someone,” Daugherty said.

He noted City Market has taken a position of neutrality on Amendment 47, which would allow workers to forgo joining a union and, as such, could have significant implications for the company and its employees.

Falcon Plumbing and Heating, which opened on the Western Slope 23 years ago and employs 110 workers, also donated $5,000 to Citizens for a Safer Grand Junction.  The contractor’s office, near 32 and Mesa roads, probably isn’t the ideal spot for a campaign sign, because it’s outside the city limits and only city residents get to vote on the public safety initiative.

But President and Chief Executive Officer Kip Ravan said he would place a sign on the business’ property if the committee asked him to do so. Ravan said he is generally supportive of tax and bond measures for capital projects, as long as the agencies demonstrate need.

“Anything that affects the construction community, we’re really supportive of that, because of how much employment that creates in the area, whether our company gets a contract or not,” he said.

Ravan said he used to distribute a newsletter to employees any time an amendment or measure appeared on the ballot, explaining the need behind the question and how it might affect the local labor force.

“I would have no problem giving my position to an employee or to the community,” he said.


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