GJ ex-official jumps in race to run county

The race to supplant term-limited Mesa County Commissioner Craig Meis has plenty of competition. Now the effort to replace term-limited Commissioner Janet Rowland features some, too.

Former Grand Junction City Council member and longtime Realtor Paul Nelson told The Daily Sentinel on Thursday he will run for the District 3 seat. He said he plans to file the necessary paperwork with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office in the next few days.

Nelson said he made the decision to run for public office again out of a sense of dissatisfaction and worry about the direction of the country.

“I’ve had sort of a small fire started in my belly in the last year, and it’s a pretty good-sized fire these days,” he said. “People are arguing and bickering, and no one’s compromising. I think that’s what I’m bringing to the County Commission, somebody who plays well with others.”

The 59-year-old Republican said he doesn’t have any special interests to protect, noting he has served on a variety of volunteer boards and commissions over the years.

“I think I’m a team player,” he said. “My only reason for wanting to run is to help and help protect our way of life.”

Nelson said he wants to be a part of a local government that works to provide a business-friendly atmosphere. He noted there are some communities — pointing specifically to Fort Collins, whose unemployment rate is a couple of percentage points lower than Grand Junction’s — doing comparatively well in this difficult economy and that community leaders here should seek them out and replicate what they’re doing well.

While admitting he doesn’t know much about agriculture, he agrees with other commissioner candidates that it’s an important contributor to the local economy and that the county should encourage activities related to agriculture.

Nelson is virtually a Grand Valley native; his family moved here when he was a year old. He served on the Grand Junction City Council from 1986 to 1993 and was one of the founders of the Riverfront Commission. He has been a real-estate agent with Coldwell Banker Homeowners Realty since 1977.

With more than a year to go until the general election, six people have declared their candidacy for the two open commissioner posts. Nelson and Palisade attorney Rose Pugliese are running for Rowland’s seat. Loma rancher and energy-industry consultant Wes D’Aponti, farmer and rancher Christi Flynn of Fruita, construction management company owner Jana Gerow of Grand Junction and Fruita Mayor Ken Henry are vying for Meis’s District 1 seat.

All of the candidates are Republicans, except for Gerow, who is unaffiliated.


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