Re-elect Meis in District 1
Many times in races for local elected positions, the candidates have only marginal differences on a few issues and voters are left to choose based primarily on personality.
That is not the case in Mesa County Commissioner District 1. Incumbent Republican Craig Meis and Democratic challenger Dan Robinson are both likeable men with substantial roots in this community. There the similarities end.
Start with Meis’ involvement in the energy industry through his company, Cordilleran Compliance Services.
Meis describes his substantial knowledge of the energy business as “an asset” he brings to the county. It has helped him to recognize issues such as one company’s plan to put a compressor station in a highly visible location in the Plateau Valley and to work with the company to find another spot.
Robinson, however, sees Meis’ business connections as a clear conflict of interest, as when he voted to approve a conditional use permit for Delta Petroleum, a company with which Meis’ firm has done business.
But Meis only voted on that issue after he had consulted with the county attorney and determined it was legally all right for him to do so. Meis, much to his credit, has never attempted to hide his involvement with the gas industry. A substantial part of this race will be voters’ opinions on whether they believe that connection helps or hinders Meis’ service as commissioner. We believe the understanding Meis has of energy operations is ultimately a benefit for the county.
But we understand that many people don’t like how he has voted on energy-related issues.
Robinson thinks the county has missed the boat by refusing to consider tough county rules on drilling such as La Plata and Gunnison counties have adopted, with some success.
Meis disputes the claim the county has the authority to enact tough rules of its own on drilling. Beyond that, he argues it would be poor public policy to create another level of regulation on drilling, when decreasing gas prices and industry angst over new state regulations are already causing some companies to scale back their operations in the state. Better to work with them through the state process and the still-developing county energy master plan, he said.
The two also differ on their approach to the county budget.
Robinson sees opportunities to use county money, perhaps as much as $1 million, to encourage and assist residents in using more alternative energy. He also would like to speed up the permit process for people building homes that use alternative energy, and cut permit fees. Additionally, he would like to see the county work with Western Colorado Community College to convert its fleet of vehicles to natural gas.
Meis is proud of the fact that the commissioners have been able to say “No” to many requests for new county spending. The county has also cut a number of middle-management positions and restructured several departments to make them more efficient.
Robinson eagerly supports expanding the board of county commissioners from three to five members. Meis supported putting it on the ballot for voters to decide, but says he personally won’t vote for it because it just enlarges government.
Robinson has been critical of county involvement in lawsuits such as joining the suit against the statewide mill-levy freeze and its legal action to halt town of De Beque annexations.
Meis said participating in the lawsuit on the mill-levy freeze was appropriate and necessary — both to uphold the Constitution and to protect taxpayers in Mesa County, where assessed valuations have been rising faster than nearly any other part of the state.
Filing the lawsuits against De Beque were legally necessary, he said, but the county remains hopeful it will be able to negotiate with De Beque officials to settle the dispute out of court.
Voters have a clear choice in this race. There is Robinson’s philosophy — which calls for more government intervention in things ranging from alternative energy to gas drilling. And there is Meis’ limited-government approach. We think Meis’ is the better one for Mesa County and support his bid for re-election.