Loma business owner, Fruita mayor latest to join race for Mesa County Commission

Loma rancher and small business owner Wes D’Aponti declared his candidacy for the Mesa County Commission on Thursday, portraying himself as a defender of agriculture and promoter of responsible energy development.

Dressed in a cowboy hat and boots, jeans, a white dress shirt and a tie, D’Aponti spent about 15 minutes addressing a group of 15 family members, friends and supporters on the steps of the Mesa County Courthouse about his bid for the District 1 seat.

The 58-year-old said this is the first time he has sought public office and indicated he decided to do so because it’s one of the accomplishments on his bucket list he has yet to cross off.

Pointing to the fact he was raised on a hay and cattle ranch near Morrison, D’Aponti said he wants to maintain agriculture as a priority in the rural areas of the county and expand and develop the county fair. He has served on the fair’s board of directors for a number of years.

D’Aponti has worked as a consultant to a variety of energy industries over the past 30 years and has owned his own company, Environmental Audit & Assessment Inc., for 15 years. He said he is an advocate for the development of natural resources while “maintaining environmental stewardship.”

As a commissioner, he said he would like to help bring new businesses to the community and support existing ones. Whatever incentives are offered to attract out-of-the-area businesses to the county should also be extended to existing firms and companies interested in expanding, he said.

D’Aponti acknowledged there is plenty of time for other commission candidates to dig into his background but vowed to run a clean campaign. Should someone raise a negative point about him, he said, “My approach is I will set the record straight, be firm on it and go on.”

D’Aponti has lived on the Western Slope since 1973, including the past six years in Loma. He and his wife, Mailyn, have four children.

Fruita Mayor Ken Henry also has lined up his bid for the District 1 seat. He registered a candidate committee with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office last week.

Henry has served on the Fruita City Council since 2006 and was re-elected mayor last year.

The 68-year-old Fruita native said he decided to run for commissioner because he believes it’s important to have someone who lives in the west end of the Grand Valley on the board.

He said his primary focus will be on job creation and increasing the level of business activity in the county.

With nearly a year to go before the election, D’Aponti and Henry are joining what is becoming a crowded field of candidates seeking to replace term-limited Commissioner Craig Meis.  Farmer and rancher Christi Flynn of Fruita and construction development company owner Jana Gerow of Grand Junction also are vying for the seat.

Palisade attorney Rose Pugliese is unopposed in her bid to replace term-limited Commissioner Janet Rowland in District 3. State Rep. Laura Bradford, R-Collbran, said she is considering a run for the seat.


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