There’s no candidate for Grand Junction City Council, in our estimation, with a more holistic approach to governance than Rick Taggart.
As a former chief executive officer in the corporate world, Taggart is the ultimate big-picture guy. As such, he can tick off his priorities as a council member and point to barriers standing in the way of progress — many of which are interlaced with challenges facing other government entities in the valley.
There are so many funding proposals on the table at the moment — all with tax implications — that voters are pushed into an “either or” mindset, Taggart said. An event center, a capital improvement campaign for schools, a county public safety question on the fall ballot, a lodging tax bump, a push for a rec center — each competes with the others to the detriment of all.
“Unless we demonstrate to the community that there’s some form of integration and we’re trying to prioritize these things, I don’t blame voters for saying, ‘What the hell are you guys doing?’”
One of Taggart’s priorities is formalizing more communication among government entities to eliminate the “silo mentality,” identify opportunities to collaborate or reduce redundant services and come to some agreement on which capital projects are necessary for the development, the education and the quality of life of the community.
Taggart is ending a two-year term on the council. What he’s learned is that budgets are much tighter than he anticipated. As the community’s demands for infrastructure and quality of life measures get more difficult to fund, the city has to turn over every stone to free up spending. The city should seriously consider turning over some services — he cited waste management and golf course management as examples — to the private sector.
“The community wants us to be more of a participant in quality of life, in arts and culture, in homelessness and mental health issues,” he said. “But if we can’t free up dollars, we’re going to end up just talking about things.”
His opponent, Lincoln Pierce, ran the school lunch program for District 51. “School districts are like city government,” he said. Knowledge of how public organizations function, a background in purchasing and a “fiscally conservative” philosophy are his selling points.
However, never having held public office, Pierce is admittedly still formulating positions on a host of issues. He wants to leave the city “fiscally strong” with better roads and work with businesses to have “sustainable budgets” in our area, but beyond that, he struggled to articulate a vision. He’s a “rec center believer” but is unsure whether an event center is a good idea.
Pierce is earnest and honest about his learning curve. We get the sense that he would be a good listener and a thoughtful decision-maker. He’s the kind of candidate you endorse when the incumbent is unacceptable.
But that’s not the case here. Taggart has proven to be a sharp analytical mind. If anything, he factors in so much information that it prevents him from being more decisive. But he’s full of good ideas and fully embraces the event center as a catalyst for economic expansion. If voters disagree, we’ll need a forward-thinking member of the council to come up with other creative ways to leverage the city for economic gain. We support Taggart in the at-large race for City Council.