County commissioner race draws a crowd
February 9, 2012
Two county commissioner candidates have jumped into the race for District 2, the seat held by Commissioner Nancy Stuart.At a Democratic Party meeting last week, former superintendent of East Grand School District Robb Rankin, of Granby, announced his candidacy for the position, and at Tuesday night’s Republican caucus forums, Merrit Linke, of Granby, put in his bid for the seat.Stuart, R-Granby, who has served as commissioner for the past eight years, is also running.The District 1 seat, held by Commissioner James Newberry, D-Tabernash, is also up for election this November. Although his announcement has yet to be made official, Newberry said he is running to retain the seat he has held for the past 16 years.Chas McConnell, who in 2008 ran as a write-in candidate in District 1, is the Republican challenger.Although all voters in Grand County elect commissioners in all districts, District 2 candidates must live in the Granby area, and District 1 candidates must live in the Winter Park-Fraser Valley.
Robb RankinRobb Rankin was superintendent of schools at East Grand for 12 years, then entered education consulting and sales. The Rankin family, wife Molly, who works at Playdays Preschool in Granby, and two sons in college, Ben, 24, and Nick, 21, have called Grand County home since 1981.”I’m running for commissioner to give voters a choice of candidates,” Rankin said. “I have a passion for public service and Grand County, and I want to give the people and interests of the county a voice in local governance.”Merrit LinkeA native of Grand County, born in Kremmling, Linke is the second son of Eddie and Lorene Linke, who also served as a commissioner. Linke was a teacher for 12 years, and for the past 12 years has worked in wholesale distribution of livestock feed, direct-marketed beef and cattle production on the Eddie Linke Ranch outside Granby.He and wife Teri Linke, who has a home daycare business, have three children: Rachel, a junior in college, McCall, a freshman in college, and Jace, a sophomore at Middle Park High School.”I have always believed that if you didn’t like the way things were being done, you have two choices. One, you can sit back and gripe about it, or two, you can get involved in the process and try to make it better,” he said. “I believe that as a Grand County native with a myriad of diverse experiences and the ability and foresight to see the big picture, I can help to make Grand County a place we can all be proud of and prosper.”Nancy Stuart”I am proud of what our ‘Grand’ county has accomplished in eight years, and I am hoping to serve another term to make it even better,” said incumbent candidate Nancy Stuart. “We all know these last three years have been tough ones for our economy, but through good management of our citizens’ money, we have not cut services or people.”Stuart, a Grand County native originally from Hot Sulphur Springs, also talked about the new judicial center that had been court-ordered, but built without a need for a bond or a need to raise taxes; the county’s ongoing attention to water negotiations; and the county’s turn toward green practices during her time on the board.She and Paul Stuart, also a Grand County native who was part owner of Granby Dairy, have three adult children, Dawn Clifford, of Alaska, Nicci Guerrieri, of Granby, and Ryan Stuart, of Granby. Before elected as commissioner, Stuart worked for the Grand County Planning department for five years after being employed first as a florist in Granby, then as a manager of R&J Liquors. The couple has eight grandchildren.
Chas McConnellA 32-year resident of Grand County, McConnell founded McConnell Design and Printing Co. Inc., Winter Park, in 1989. During his time in the Fraser Valley, he has contributed time and services to various charities and organizations. McConnell initiated the recent “Save the Fraser River” and “Keep Grand Lake Blue” awareness campaigns, promoting the county’s interests regarding water resources. He also identified a a miscalculation in school impact fees, which ultimately brought revenue to the East Grand School District, he said. He and wife Ann McConnell have two children, Lucus, a sophomore at Middle Park High School, and Kaitlin, a sixth-grader at East Grand Middle School.”I believe I possess a combination of leadership skills, work ethic and business acumen that will lend itself well in my ability to act as a Grand County commissioner, should I have the privilege of being elected.”James NewberryIncumbent Newberry is running for re-election in November “because there is still important work to be done, and my experience, knowledge and relationships I’ve developed will be invaluable toward the successful completion of various ongoing projects.” Newberry highlighted the cooperative agreements with both the Denver Water Board and the Northern Water Conservancy District.”I have worked to develop common ground so that special interest entities are now working together,” he said.He also highlighted the county’s efforts to improve broadband and telecommunication infrastructure to allow for affordable Internet services to attract and maintain businesses. Conservative budgeting, water protections, transparency in governance, and improvements in Grand County Emergency Services have all taken place under his watch, he said. Newberry has served in leadership roles on various other boards, representing Grand County in fields of governance, water quality, juvenile services and economic development.Newberry and wife Kris have a daughter Shelby, 23, of Tabernash, and son Alex, who died in 2006. Newberry has worked as a baseball, basketball coach in Grand County since 1980.