Pugliese in District 3
We haven’t always seen eye to eye with Rose Pugliese, but she’s proven to be an accessible Mesa County commissioner who listens to all sides before committing to a course of action.
She’s shown growth on the job — a better understanding of how government can support economic growth than when she was elected. The county’s commitment to funding the Grand Junction Economic Partership grew from $15,000 to $150,000 in a single year, largely on her advocacy.
Pugliese is an anabashed fiscal conservative who says the government’s role is to provide core services — not create jobs. But government can be collaborative and supportive in that endeavor. Support for Jump-Start tax breaks and Jordan Cove — even the Palisade Plunge as a tourist draw — reflect her evolving views on economic development.
With Pugliese, voters get the usual conservative rhetoric: business-friendly policies, a low tax burden, multiple uses on public land, a pro-energy bent and deference to the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, guaranteeing voters a voice on tax increases.
Her opponent, Democrat Dave Edwards, a Palisade town trustee, on the other hand, wants to give voters a chance to de-Bruce, or exempt the county from TABOR revenue restrictions.
“The major effect of TABOR is to make sure mediocre or bad governments can’t overspend,” he told the Sentinel’s editorial board. “But it’s difficult for other governments to do really well.”
Raising people out of poverty is the role of the county, Edwards said. The county fails in that goal by leaving huge amounts of federal money on the table and compounds the problem by neglecting to process unspent funds through a matching-grant program to benefit local hospitals.
He went on to criticize the county for doing a “horrible job” running the second-biggest city on the Western Slope — unincorporated Clifton. But Edwards didn’t have a solid answer as to what he would do to change the economic fortunes of the county. For example, he said the county was right to contribute $300,000 to Colorado Mesa University and suggested it should support GJEP — which it does.
Aside from de-Brucing, we didn’t get a specific vision for change from Edwards. Pugliese has the experience, and hopefully now the wisdom, to search for middle-ground solutions.