Two more enter race for Mesa County Commission

John Leane speaks to supporters at the old courthouse during his anouncement of an independent run for Mesa County Commissioner.

Two longtime Mesa County residents are the latest entrants into Mesa County Commission District 1 race.

Former County Commissioner John Leane and current Planning Commission member John Justman have joined four other candidates seeking to replace term-limited Commissioner Craig Meis in 2013.

Leane announced his candidacy Wednesday afternoon at the Mesa County Courthouse with fanfare, as supporters dressed in maroon-and-white T-shirts stood among maroon-and-white balloons while country music faded in and out from large speakers.

Leane was a Democrat when he served as commissioner from 1989 to 1993. He sought a second term but was defeated by Republican John Crouch.

He said he registered as an Independent about a year ago and decided to run for the board earlier this summer because he’s “fed up, disgusted, disappointed, sad” with events in Washington, D.C., and the two-party system.

The 68-year-old Grand Junction resident said the Republican and Democratic parties have polarized themselves and said a “business-as-usual” approach is no longer acceptable.

“I think it’s time for a fresh pair of eyes to look at the problems here in Mesa County, and I think I’m the fresh pair of eyes to look at those problems for you,” he told a gathering of more than 50 relatives, friends and supporters.

Leane touted his prior time in office as an advantage, suggesting others will have a learning curve.

“I can begin working as soon as I’m installed in office. I think that makes a big difference. I don’t think there are too many others in that same boat,” he said.

Leane has lived in the county since 1978 and has spent the last 13 years contracting with the Grand Junction Parks and Recreation Department as its softball program coordinator.

Like Leane, Justman’s roots here extend deep. The farmer has lived in Fruita since 1973.

The six-year member of the county Planning Commission said he’s been thinking about running for the District 1 post for about a year because he’s concerned about the county.

Justman, 69, said he wants the county to do what it can to promote job creation and responsible energy development. He pointed to coal as a resource whose potential could be tapped further.

“The product is here and I don’t think we should be overlooking it,” he said of coal.

In addition to Leane and Justman, Wes D’Aponti, Christi Flynn, Jana Gerow and Ken Henry have declared their candidacy for the District 1 seat. Paul Nelson and Rose Pugliese are the candidates vying thus far to replace term-limited District 3 Commissioner Janet Rowland.


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