Council incumbents face worthy challengers

Those living within the city limits of Grand Junction should have received municipal election ballots in the mail by now. The best reason for participating is this is one of the few times in recent memory where significant attention and money have been spent bringing to light the problems and controversies of a sitting City Council.

Considering what’s been done the last few years, that should be enough to sweep any dust bunnies out of the corners of the council chamber.

Fiascoes, fiscal squandering and mysterious examples are replete, including the dubious financing and contract- award process for the public safety buildings and the continuing mystery of burned out White Hall in Grand Junction, which was absolutely essential to have torn down.

It was so essential that the city had to agree to pick up the tab for what looks like nearly $450,000 in cleanup costs on a property that had a 2012 assessed value of $251,000.

Remember how essential it was last May to get it torn down because of safety issues? I drove by it the other day. Gosh, the demolition is going slowly. Maybe the city hopes to use it as a haunted house next October.

Then there’s the creation of the expensive police Homeless Outreach Team to deal with the city’s transient problem. This was a roaring success. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen so many transients here in March.

Individual council candidates present an entertaining if troubling lot. Incumbent Laura Luke, who was appointed to a vacant council position, has recently discovered a couple of things. For instance, she recently discovered she was a Republican. Also, she has evidently uncovered dark forces working against her candidacy. It seems she has determined the identity of these dark forces to be the shadowy Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce! The chamber. That does sound pretty ominous.

This furtive organization is evidently engaged in promoting policies and candidates favoring jobs and business. No wonder this conspiracy is arrayed against her as her votes have been so steadfast in opposition to these bizarre purposes.

I’m fairly certain there’s a skull with a candle burning on top of it in a secret room at the Chamber of Commerce building. I wonder if they wear sinister robes at their meetings.

Another incumbent, Mayor Bill Pitts, has emerged as something of an unintentional eccentric. His occasional unusual comments are noteworthy.

For instance, he’s been under a cloud since shortly after his election because he rapidly received storm water assistance at his residence for a long-standing problem, at a cost of about $44,000. He commented to The Daily Sentinel about the controversy, “This didn’t just happen overnight. It could be that after moaning and groaning for 40 years they thought the only way to shut (him) up is to do something.”

The last incumbent is Tom Kenyon, a nice fellow, perhaps to a fault. Similar to Will Rogers, who never met a man he didn’t like, Kenyon hasn’t met many expenditures and staff decisions he didn’t like. Running against a private-sector powerhouse Phyllis Norris, the former CEO of City Market, who worked her way to the position by starting in the checkout lane, it’s a simple choice.

This is exactly the sort of thing that’s been needed for some time —  a lively debate with engaged candidates challenging a worrisome status quo.

Rick Wagner writes more on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong.


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