Five commissioner backers reflect on loss

Backers of a proposal to increase the Mesa County Commission from three to five members were concerned about a perceived lack of representation in rural parts of the county, the possibility of one board member dominating the other two and a lack of debate on tough issues.

Those concerns persist after voters Tuesday defeated the five-commissioner ballot question 37,298 to 25,679.

“There is something there that needs to be addressed,” said Jim Spehar, a former county commissioner who supported the move to five.

The question now is: How?

“Frankly, I don’t think we had a Plan B,” said Skip Mottram, former chairman of the Mesa County Democrats and a supporter of five commissioners. “The only thing we can do is encourage the three commissioners to take seriously the concerns of the people from the outlying areas and ... we need to work together for the good of everyone.”

Reaching out to those outlying communities, Commissioner Janet Rowland said, “is one of my goals.”

“I think Janet, I and Steve (Acquafresca) have done a good job getting out to the rural parts of the county,” said Commissioner Craig Meis, who said he opposed the board expansion.

Dianne Schwenke, president of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, which supported the push for five commissioners, said she was somewhat surprised by how soundly the question was rejected. She suspects voter fatigue and economic concerns were factors. The addition of the two commissioners would have come at a cost of $174,274 annually.

“Everything is about cost and benefit, and right now everyone is so worried about where the economy is going,” Schwenke said. “What do I get for my money?  That is what it really boiled down to.”


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