GJ council hopefuls take students’ questions
Safety on the campus of Colorado Mesa University, dedicating funds for new classrooms and changing the name of North Avenue to University Boulevard are a few questions university students lobbed at nine Grand Junction City Council candidates during a forum Wednesday.
Council candidates have kept a hectic schedule lately with several candidate forums already completed and more slated for later this week and next week.
There are four council seats up for grabs in the April 2 city election.
In response a question about how to bolster school safety, Candidate Phyllis Norris said she would support an educational campaign that promotes awareness on campus and encourages students to speak up if they feel someone may be a danger.
“There is no way two officers can watch everything on this campus,” she said.
Norris is running against Tom Kenyon in District A.
Candidate Marty Chazen said he supports a program that encourages people to carry firearms with a concealed-carry permit.
“I would support having people who attend class being able to defend themselves,” he said.
Chazen is running against Bonnie Beckstein and Laura Luke.
CMU allows people to be on campus with concealed weapons, but guns are not allowed in dormitories.
Candidates were questioned how the city could encourage businesses around the university to offer more amenities for students.
Most candidates agreed those decisions mostly are dictated by marketplace conditions.
“Around the university as empty lots come up, maybe we could promote different kinds of business that support the college,” Candidate Harry Butler said.
Butler is running against Duncan McArthur and Robert Noble in District E.
Noble said the council should provide incentives for businesses, but only to a point. He referred to an issue councilors currently are considering about development fees for new commercial businesses.
“We should be friendly to business but we shouldn’t sell the farm to business,” he said.
Candidate Richard Brainard said the city should work with CMU to promote business.
“I would promote public/private partnerships,” he said.
Brainard is running against Bill Pitts for the at-large seat.
Most candidates said they would be in support of a name change for North Avenue to University Boulevard.
“I like it,” Bill Pitts said. “If the people on North Avenue are in favor of changing it, we’re going to change that sucker.”
All candidates agreed the city continue to contribute funds to help the university expand.
Councilors for years have dedicated $500,000 a year to CMU to purchase homes for its westward expansion. This year, councilors dedicated an additional $500,000 per year of city funds for the construction of a second classroom building.
After the forum, several students involved in student government said they especially liked the responses given by Pitts, who currently is the mayor.
“He seems very sociable with every point that he had. He was really straight-forward and very down to earth,” said Ashley Sutton-Daniels, a CMU senior and a member of student government.
Beckstein was the only candidate not present at Wednesday’s forum.