Homework: Kids Voting September 22, 2008

Mesa County will elect two county commissioners this year. In the District 1 race, Craig Meis will go against Dan Robinson. In District 3, Janet Rowland is opposing Dickie D. Lewis.

The community often sees references to “county commissioner,” but do most people know what the role of a commissioner is? According to the Web site http://www.mesacounty.us/commissioners, the role of a commissioner is “To govern business responsibilities in accordance with the State Constitution and on behalf of the Legislature in order to represent the interests of, and provide public services desired by the citizens of Mesa County.”

In the words of Lewis, a Clifton Democrat, “(We) form a government, provide for public safety and the common good.” An attorney for 37 years, Lewis says that what makes him more experienced is that he’s “been here longer” so he has seen what has happened in the community, and knows what it’s been through and can provide good service.

Republican incumbent Janet Rowland’s background includes experience in the public, private and non-profit sectors. In 2000, she co-founded a local non-profit, Strong Families, Safe Kids, that is focused on child abuse prevention. Before this, she was in private practice as a family counselor and also worked for the Department of Human Services for 10 years before being elected as county commissioner in 2004.

Rowland said that in addition to “oversight of the functions of county government, commissioners need to look ahead to the needs of the community and prepare for the future.” Commissioners oversee the functions of county government such as Road and Bridge, Animal Services, Landfill, Health Department and Human Services. “We also oversee budgets for the sheriff’s department, the district attorney, the assessor, the clerk and treasurer,” she said. The commissioners “need to look ahead to the needs of the community and prepare for the future because Mesa County is growing significantly and it is critical that we ensure that
Mesa County is prepared for the estimated 225, 000 people that will live here in the next 15 to 20 years.”

In the District 1 race, Meis, the Republican, said he “knows about energy systems, how they operate and understands those systems.” He is a registered professional engineer in the states of Colorado, Wyoming and Texas and is the founder and principal engineer of Cordilleran Compliance Services Inc. When he isn’t working, Meis is a foster parent and coaches soccer and football. Meis’ description of a commissioner’s role was simply, “they make policies.”

Meis’ challenger is a former Mesa County Valley School District 51 board member, Democrat Dan Robinson. Robinson has been a resident of Mesa County for 30 years. He is an attorney who also headed the Colorado Department of Human Services Division of Youth Corrections. Robinson’s Web site says he is running for the Commission because he has “a vision for Mesa County” which he believes all people share. Robinson sees a “healthy, safe and clean community where our children have opportunities.”

Robinson’s Web site defines his perspective on a commissioner as “working together to keep county government ethical and to thoughtfully consider all decisions.”

Elizabeth Connor and Anastatia Waldschmidt are students in District 51 reporting on election issues for The Daily Sentinel in conjunction with Kids Voting of Mesa County.


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