Mesa County Commission District 3: Pugliese emphasizes business environment

At 34, Rose Pugliese has passed bar exams in four states, settled with her family in the Palisade area and started a successful legal business, thrust herself into a thorny national debate, ran and lost for the local school board, and been an active leader in the local Republican party.

And as a candidate for District 3 county commissioner, she’s proven herself to be consistent in her message and grounded in her conservative principles.

“Part of the reason I got into this race is because a lot of young people my age loved living in Mesa County, but there weren’t any jobs. They’ve all left to go to other places. That’s frustrating to watch,” she said.

“When it comes to the role of government, our job is to cut back on excessive regulations.”

She routinely gravitates to the county’s land development code when pressed for specifics about excessive regulations, particularly her anecdotal evidence of businesses frustrated by county landscaping requirements.

“I am not against beautification. I am just against expensive beautification — to where property owners need to put in hundreds of thousands of dollars in landscaping before they can even touch their building,” she told the Sentinel editorial board. “That doesn’t make any sense to me.”

She hopes to fold local businesses into communications with county government by forming a business advisory committee, if she’s elected.

A headline-making petition drive in 2010, in which she urged School District 51 to not teach the idea of man-made climate change “unless we’ve got conclusive evidence one way or another,” showed Pugliese won’t shy from her conservative views, popular or not.

“At least we had a voice. At least we got the issue out there, and it got people talking,” she said.

As for her run and defeat for the school board in 2010: “I literally didn’t know what I was getting into.”

A lingering suspicion Pugliese is eager to quash centers on the woman she aims to replace on the county commission — current term-limited District 3 Commissioner Janet Rowland. The two are both active in the local Republican Party, and are friends, but Pugliese pushes back on the idea that somehow Rowland has a role in her candidacy.

“Everything I have done — looking at this position, wanting to run — I have done on my own accord,” Pugliese said. “I’ve made a name for myself in my own right.”

Because of her age, it’s appropriate to ask if Pugliese has eyes on a political job beyond Mesa County commissioner. She’s quick to dispel that notion as well.

“I don’t know that I love politics,” she said. “I love running my own business. I love being in the private sector. I don’t know that I want to be in the public sector my whole life. ... I don’t have any big aspirations.”

In terms of issues, Pugliese is a pretty open book. She has a concealed weapons permit. She supports setback regulations on oil and gas operations, but only within the constructs of the state regulatory agency.

She supports ongoing funding of the local museum — “What a disappointment it would be to see all of our heritage go to Denver.” And she is open to expansions at the county fairgrounds, but only on a go-slow basis.


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