Lincoln County voters will be electing two of the three members of the Board of County Commissioners in the November 6, 2012 election.In the county’s District 2, two candidates – Steve Burgess and Greg King – are running for the commissioner’s seat. Dan Merewether and Doug Stone are the District 3 commissioner candidates.
In an effort to better inform the voters, the Limon Leader and Eastern Colorado Plainsman newspapers asked the four candidates to respond the following four questions:
Question 1 – Describe who you are? (List your place of birth, family, marital status, length of residency in Lincoln County, education, military service and profession. Also list your memberships in clubs, community organizations and business organizations. Provide information on any elected public office that you have previously held.)
Question 2 – Why do you want to be a commissioner and why should voters pick you? (What skills or personal/professional qualities make you the best candidate?)
Question 3 – If elected, what specific issue or issues do you want to concentrate on as a commissioner?
Question 4 – As a commissioner, what will you do to promote small business development, job growth and other economic progress in Lincoln County?
To be fair to all the candidates, they were asked to limit their responses to a total of 1,200 words. The candidates and their answers are printed below in alphabetical order by district.
DISTRICT 2 CANDIDATES
STEVE BURGESSQuestion 1 – My name is Steve Burgess, and I am running as an unaffiliated candidate for Lincoln County Commissioner District 2. I was born in Superior, Neb., but was raised in Flagler, Colo. where I graduated from Flagler High School. I attended Southern Colorado State College and earned a B.S. degree in accounting. I served six years in the National Guard. I have been married to my wife, Margaret, for over 40 years and we have two married sons and four wonderful grandchildren. I have an accounting, construction and farming background. I am presently serving as your elected county commissioner. Through this position, I serve on many boards, some of which include Centennial Mental Health, Baby Bear Hugs, Bookmobile and Ports To Plains. I also belong to the Lions Club and am very active in the Catholic Church. I have bee appointed to the Pershing Cemetery Board. I have lived in Lincoln County since 1984.
Question 2 – I want to keep Lincoln County in the sound financial shape we are in now. I still have some goals that I want to see Lincoln County obtain. I feel my proven track record for fiscal knowledge and experience over the past eight years makes me the better candidate. I am very conservative. I bring to the table the knowledge of working on construction projects and researching what needs to be done to complete these projects. I work closely with my employees. This includes giving a hand on the Road and Bridge crew, inspecting projects, working at the landfill, driving the Bookmobile or going after parts. I have also filled in during the absence of employees.
Question 3 – I have asked for and received more money for the District 2 Road and Bridge crew. I want to concentrate on upgrading more bridges and expanding and maintaining more oiled roads. I also want to keep making improvements to the courthouse, parking lot, fairground facilities and other county facilities. I want to keep equipment upgraded. Since Lincoln County has been granted an Enterprise Zone for the fairgrounds, I would like to pursue more community involvement and youth participation. I also want to concentrate on keeping up with the demands of law enforcement and social services.
Question 4 – I believe that Lincoln County has many new and exciting developments such as oil and gas and wind farms coming into this area. I want to continue to be part of the team that helps bring them to our county. I hope by promoting by promoting temporary tax credits and expanding the use of the Internet, we will keep existing businesses in Lincoln County and attract new businesses. We have in place the tourism board to promote our area, and one can get small business consulting through the Small Business Development Centers. We also have state income tax credits for new and expanding businesses. According to the CDOT traffic counts, Limon has over 3,000 trucks and approximately 9,000 vehicles coming through every day. I hope to capitalize on this information. I recently attended the Ports To Plains conference held in Medicine Hat, Canada. The general theme was economic development. If possible, I would welcome any business into Lincoln County.
I have been active in the community all of my life. In my youth, I was a member of the Boy Scouts and 4-H. I have been a member of the Genoa Lions Club, and had the honor to be the President of that organization. I have served as a trustee of the First Congregational Church of Arriba, and have served as a member and president of the Zion Lutheran Church council. I have also served on the Lincoln County Farm Service Agency County Committee, including the position of Chairman, as well as the High Plains Soil Conservation District board and the CSU Extension Advisory Committee.
I had the privilege of serving on the Limon School Board for seven years, including two years as the President of the Board. During that time, I was elected to serve on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Association of School Boards.
I am currently serving on the Limon Town Council.
I retired from the Farm Service Agency on December 31, 2011 after serving the farmers and ranchers as the County Executive Director for Lincoln and Arapahoe counties for 25 years. Prior to that, I raised cattle and wheat on the family farm north of Arriba and served you for three years as the Chief Appraiser for the Lincoln County Assessors Office.
Question 2 – I believe that it is time to restore core values to the office including treating all people with courtesy and respect. You cannot create efficient government if you are not willing to listen to the people and hear what their cares and concerns are, and work with them to resolve the issues. Thre will be times when issues cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of all parties, but I will listen to and respect your opinions.
In bring many years of experience in human relations and public relations to the table, which includes the ability to work with people whether they are employees or citizens of Lincoln County. I also have the ability to positively represent Lincoln County in dealing with outside interests, and working with state level government and agencies to ensure that we are not forgotten when it comes to policy decisions and legislation coming from the state.
I will maintain sound fiscal policy and ensure that tax dollars are spent wisely.
I will work with other elected county officials to make sure they have the tools and budget to do their jobs. They have been elected by the voters of Lincoln County and should not be micromanaged by the commissioners.
The commissioners also appoint willing people to various boards. If elected, I will strive to appoint the best people I can find to these boards and let them function. The commissioners need to work with these boards and if they have differences, then work with the board come up with a solution that will best benefit all of the parties involved.
Question 3 – In my travels around the county, I have heard one common theme. Each road district should have its own foreman. I believe this is a matter of necessity for each district to be able to respond timely to pressing matters. We need to have the best possible roads for our farmers and ranchers to move their equipment safely, and move their commodities to market.
I have also been told that the people want to be treated with respect and have their ideas considered. This is especially true in day to day contact with people in the county. I will be a good listener and work with the people of the county to make this a better place for all of us.
Question 4 – Lincoln County’s basic economy is primarily based on two enterprises, agriculture and tourism. We must do everything we can to maintain these as viable enterprises. However, I believe we must explore other areas to ensure that our children and grandchildren have the opportunity to earn a decent living, make their homes here and enjoy the rural lifestyle that we all love.
I believe that we need to work with Economic Development and develop creative ideas to make Lincoln County a desirable location to set up a business. Since the Ports to Plains network goes through the middle of the county, one thought would be to attract a distribution center where loads from the Gulf Coast ports could be unloaded and split for distribution to various markets.
Mary and I have been active members of the Karval community. I have been a member of the Lincoln County Stockgrowers Association, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, the Karval Lions Club and R-Calf. I served for 16 years as a member of the Karval School Board. As part of that responsibility, I was a director of the East Central BOCES board for 12 years.
While I was a member of the Karval School Board, we created the Karval On-Line Academy. The on-line school has served from 100 to 200 students each year and allowed the local school to continue to offer an excellent education to our students, despite declining enrollment.
Question 2 – I am running for commissioner because I want to do my part to provide good government for the people of Lincoln County. I am honest, calm and open to new ideas. I have good communication skills, and have held positions of responsibility in each local organization of which I have been a member. I have worked with large budgets and supervised numerous employees, while maintaining good relationships with both the staff and public. Mostly, I will bring energy and ideas to the commissioner’s office.
Question 3 – I come from a rural part of the county. At a commissioners’ meeting, I was once told that Karval “should have dried up and blown away a long time ago.” I disagree. I think that the commissioners should support economic development throughout Lincoln County, not just in Limon and Hugo.
When I ask people what we should do to improve Lincoln County, they most often mention better roads. Since transportation in the county affects all of us, I will work to make the county road crew as efficient as possible. I believe that the current organization of the crew makes for worse roads, and the workers get less done. I will work to change that.
Semi trucks and trailers are getting bigger and carrying heavier loads. Old bridges need to be replaced to make the roads safer.
I will work to maintain the good financial foundation of the county, while making investments necessary to improve the county and help the citizens. I will look at using the county’s extra revenue as seed money or matching funds to develop new economic opportunities, like possibly adding facilities at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds.
The wind turbines have been a great contributor to the economic wealth of the county. The oil and gas development that is beginning can add to that well-being. However, I believe that the commissioners have a responsibility to all of Lincoln County’s citizens to be sure that the groundwater is protected as we go forward with new development.
Question 4 – For nearly 100 years, each census has shown that the number of people in Lincoln County has decreased.
We have to reverse that trend by bringing more jobs and businesses to the county. That begins with the county government itself. Whenever possible, the county should provide preferences to local businesses in buying goods and services. Money that is spent in Lincoln County benefits us all in the long run.
I will make a long term commitment to the Lincoln County Economic Development Corporation. They are always working to bring new businesses and job opportunities to the county. We need to have somebody constantly focusing on future development. I believe that the county can add to our own revenue through grants to improve local services and facilities. I will work to make that happen.
As new industries like wind energy come to the county, we need to provide local training so that the technicians are home grown. Plus, we should develop businesses which provide products and services for the new industries.
I cannot say just what new jobs and economic development I will bring to Lincoln County, but I can assure you that if I am elected I will be working toward that goal. My name is Dan Merewether and I would appreciate your support.
I attended and graduated from Karval School and am married to Connie (Mannis) Stone, who graduated from Limon. We have four children: Nolan, his wife Jodi and grandchildren Shae and Dylan who live in Eaton. Nolan is the manager of the JBS Feedlot in Kersey. Nick lives in Ault where he is an electrician. Jackie, a recent graduate of the University of Northern Colorado, lives in Thornton and teaches kindergarten and first grade in Brighton. Our youngest son, Brett, is a student at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, studying Agriculture Production.
Connie and I own and operate our ranch west of Karval, and I also work for the Karval School District in the maintenance department. Prior to that, I worked for the Lincoln County Road and Bridge Department for 20 years.
I’ve served my community on the Karval School Board, the Lincoln County Junior Market Livestock Sale Committee, and have coached numerous sports teams ranging from pee wee teams to high school squads. I am a member of the Lincoln County Farm Bureau Federation, Karval Community Alliance and the Blue Cliff United Methodist Church.
Question 2 – I care deeply about Lincoln County, its residents and its future, and that is why I am running for Commissioner. I have the ability to make fair and solid decisions through studying the issues and utilizing common sense and experience. I am well acquainted throughout the county and will encourage cooperation and communication.
Many of the concerns of voters hinge on the Road and Bridge Department. In my 20 years working for Lincoln County Road and Bridge, I understand not only the importance of safe, quality roads but also the operations necessary to maintain and improve them.
A Commissioner’s job is to work cooperatively with local boards, committees and county officials. It will be part of my job to listen and rely on the judgment and advice of the many volunteers who give their time to make Lincoln County a better place to live and work.
It’s a wonderful gift to have been raised in Lincoln County. During this campaign, it has been great to see and visit with so many people that we know as friends and neighbors throughout the county. I will continue, if elected, to be both approachable and accountable to these friends and neighbors.
As your District 3 Commissioner, I will work hard and make solid, grounded decisions based on the best information possible to keep Lincoln County a safe, prosperous and healthy place to live.
Question 3 – Only the current Commissioners are a party to all of the issues facing Lincoln County, but I’ve made myself as familiar as possible with the issues by attending Commissioner meetings and reviewing past minutes. Every issue that comes before the Commissioners should be given honest consideration and be granted equal importance.
Among the issues I deem the most pressing is the quality of the roads. Roads that are in good condition and safe are important to every resident in the county. The Karval road district currently has in place a great crew of local workers who are also an important part of the community. I would look forward to working with them and the other districts to accomplish a common goal of safe roads.
Property taxes and county spending should be kept low and responsible. Lincoln County should buy from and support local businesses whenever possible.
The protection of property, mineral and water rights is key, as is keeping unnecessary rules and regulations at bay. The financial efficiency of county operations and adequate funding of the Sheriff’s Office will also both ensure the success of the county and the health and safety of our environment.
Question 4 – There’s no doubt of the importance of business development, job growth and economic progress in Lincoln County. Being a primarily agricultural county has allowed Lincoln County to grow strong and independent over a span of many years. As the average farmer and rancher enters his or her 50s, 60s and 70s, the face of Lincoln County agriculture is sure to change. Encouraging young people to return to agricultural operations is necessary as many farms and ranches change hands from one generation to the next.
Incentives for small business may be an important part of encouraging quality businesses to the area. Building and cultivating a relationship with the town boards of Genoa and Arriba, the Hugo Economic Development group, the Limon Chamber of Commerce and the Karval Alliance should be an ongoing role for the Commissioners.
The face of the county is also being changed by oil, gas, and wind energy. It’s important that the Commissioners understand both the challenges and rewards associated to boost the economy.
As your District 3 Commissioner, I promise to work hard, be fair and accountable, and do the best job I can to represent the people who call Lincoln County home.