Council candidates cover issues at forum

Grand Junction City Council candidates sounded off on a variety of issues Monday during a forum at a quarterly luncheon for the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce at the Mesa County Workforce Center.

Candidates were asked whether they support finishing roadwork along North Avenue and what the city’s role should be in providing services that can be handled by the private sector. Citing the “Say Yes to Grand Junction” movement, chamber members also asked candidates to rate in order of priority an event center, a recreation center, and a potential bond measure and tax increase for District 51 schools.

Candidates were also asked whether taxpayers should continue to fund Colorado Mesa University. Grand Junction currently directs $1 million a year to CMU — $500,000 to buy properties for the university’s expansion plans and $500,000 to pay off a building loan. Here were their responses to that question:

Duke Wortmann, District D

He said he’s a “proud Maverick” and noted that 40 people in his office were employed when the university moved out of its library for renovations. “If I’m elected, I guarantee I’ll push hard to fire up those economic engines. Please join me in stopping the negative speak about CMU. We would be a poorer place without it.”

Marty Chazen, District D

He said he is a graduate of Mesa State College and has taught there. Chazen said he is a supporter of the payments and believes the university is an “economic driver.” “If we can get the money in the (city’s) budget, CMU will get its money.”

Phyllis Norris, District A

Norris said when she started on the City Council in 2013, the city was dedicating $1 million to CMU, but only dedicating $500,000 to street maintenance, which should have had a fund of a few million dollars. “I do support CMU, but it has to fit in with the city, not just CMU,” she said.

Jesse Daniels, District A

Daniels said he is in favor of funding for CMU and would like to see further partnerships with students and graduates working in coordination with the city, possibly in training for government roles. “I’d like to see them go a little further,” he said about funding and partnerships.

Rick Taggart, At-large

Taggart said he also views CMU as an economic driver and cited his undergraduate work as an engineer and current teaching role in the business college. “It is sad to have those conversations with a student who says, “I would love to stay here, Rick, but I can’t find a job.”

Candidate Lincoln Pierce did not attend Monday’s forum.


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