Sparks fly at commission debate

Challengers rip records of two incumbents, who quickly return the fire

MESA COUNTY COMMISSIONER Craig Meis, left, listens as his Democratic challenger, Dan Robinson, speaks at a forum in Fruita on Monday night. Robinson blasted Meis’ record on the commission as government by “cliche.” Meis said he strongly disagrees with Robinson’s implication that county governments should be responsible for curing society’s ills.

The Mesa County Commission, over the past four years, has governed through “cliches,” Democratic commission Dan Robinson said at a Monday night forum, setting off a series of heated exchanges at a Fruita Area Chamber of Commerce debate.

Robinson said his opponent, Republican Commissioner Craig Meis, and his peers have shrunk the county’s budget without innovation.

“These (small government) cliches aren’t going to solve problems economically,” Robinson said.

Republican Commissioner Janet Rowland, however, told the more than three dozen spectators who gathered at the debate that Robinson and her opponent, Clifton Democrat Dickie Lewis, have been content to lambaste the commission without offering new ideas.

“I hear no solutions … (from) armchair quarterbacks that don’t really lift a hand,” Rowland said.

Rowland said she was incensed by Robinson and Lewis’ suggestion that “How are the children?” a
question asked during every commission meeting, was simply a slogan.

Robinson, however, argued that the question was “rhetorical,” when the county has not taken enough initiative to confront the fact that there are hundreds of homeless children living in Mesa County.

He said the county has not taken enough steps to tap the resources in the community, including using schools in the evenings as places to offer outreach to single parents and low-income families.

“I’m all for providing a helping hand,” Meis replied. “I’m not for providing a handout.”

Meis said the county already partners with area nonprofits and churches. Nonetheless, he said caring for those in need should be the responsibility of the community and not government.

“Dan’s answer to that question is, ‘I’m here with the government. We’re here to help,’ ” Meis said. “I disagree 100 percent with that.”

If you missed Monday’s debate, there will be two other opportunities this week:

•  The League of Women Voters of Mesa County will host state Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction, and his opponent, Republican Laura Bradford, for a debate from 6 to 8 p.m. at the old Mesa County Courthouse, 544 Rood Ave.

•  Grand Valley Young Professionals and the Rotaract Club of Grand Junction will host a forum Wednesday for all of the county’s political candidates from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Garden Room at the Commons, 625 27 1/4 Road.


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