Chambers endorse five county commissioners proposal

The chambers of commerce of Fruita and Palisade joined the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday in endorsing a ballot proposal to increase the membership of the Mesa County Commission from three to five members.

“We wanted to present a united front,” said Sandie Cooper, chairwoman of the Palisade Chamber of Commerce board of directors

The proposal will appear on November’s ballot. Voters also will be asked how to elect and seat a five-member board.

All three chambers are endorsing what is called Election method 1 on the ballot. Method No. 1 calls for three of the proposed five commissioners to be elected by residents of their district and for two to be elected by all residents.

Method No. 2 would have all five commissioners elected at large.

When it comes to the county commission, more is better across Mesa County, Cooper said.

“They are spread pretty thin,” Cooper said. “With two more commissioners, that just kind of spreads the duties and time commitment and ability to hear (residents).”

Not all agree with the chambers’ endorsement.

“When you have three county commissioners, you have three people with their neck on the line having to answer for the decisions they make,” said Kathy Hall, who was a county commissioner from 1995 to 2003. “I don’t care what the issue, more is never better as far as government is concerned.”

According to the ballot question, two more county commissioners would cost a minimum of $174,274 each year in salaries and benefits. Hall said that amount is just the tip of the iceberg. Two more commissioners would also require support staff, incur travel costs and call for a continuous stream of office supplies, she said.

Advocates for the board’s expansion say having five commissioners will bring better representation to rural areas of the county.

“The chamber feels this is a much-needed first step toward greater geographical representation, not only for the county as a whole, but for the rapidly growing lower valley,” Mary Lou Wilson, director of the Fruita Area Chamber of Commerce, said in a written statement issued by Citizens for Five Commissioners.

The municipalities of Collbran, De Beque, Fruita, Palisade and Grand Junction also endorse the expansion of the board.


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