Q & A with Rich Cimino
November 15, 2016
Rich Cimino, the new County Commissioner for District 1, answered a few questions for the Sky-Hi News. Cimino will be sworn in on January 10, 2017 at the second Board of County Commissioner (BOCC) meeting.
Cimino was born in 1971 and grew up in Raton, NM. He joined the military in 1990 after graduating from high school. Cimino was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant to the Air Force in 1994. He served for 21 years active duty, and retired effective July of 2015. Cimino moved to Grand County with his family full time in 2013 when he finally got stationed at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. He commuted to Colorado Springs for two years while his family lived in Grand County full time.
What are the three biggest issues facing the county?
The budget, water, and growing our economy.
Balancing the budget—we were in our third year of deficit spending. The board worked hard to balance the budget this year, and now we need to keep it balanced. We need to operate well within our budget every year. We cannot plan to go into debt. Good fiscal management is building up a surplus well within your budget every year.
Water—I think we need to improve water quality, and hopefully find a way to cooperate with the Front Range so they divert less- we may not succeed, but it’s still worth trying
We also need cooler water, like the Windy Gap Project, and we need to improve in other areas like the lack of biodiversity.
Grow economy—I started my campaign back in February with this issue as “help workers,” but I have altered it into “grow our economy.” I see business owners struggling with employee turnover. Some business owners have a hard time finding the skills they need. If workers can find housing closer to where they work, the quality of the workforce may improve. It will help if the workforce does not have to commute for an hour each day. Access to broadband so employees can train online will be beneficial as well.
Coming from Raton I have seen the struggle—we had a horse racing track, it closed; we had a ski area, it closed, and we had a coal mine, and it closed. If you don’t grow, you’re shrinking.
What do you think gave you the edge in the election?
I think I was able to get on the ballot because of my qualifications. For the primary, I don’t know what each voter thought, but it may have been my qualifications, or it may have been that voters wanted to try a newer resident to the area. I don’t come from any tribe, or have any grievances, and that may have been helpful. For the general election, I do think there was a demographic edge from the county, but I don’t think every republican has a guaranteed win in Grand County. I think the county is open. I don’t want to be a monopoly party here, but I think it did help.
Who do you think you appealed to in your campaign?
I think I may have appealed to those in the county that were ready to try something new.
Do you think political affiliation plays a big roll in serving as county commissioner?
No, I feel that it’s more local, but I think it can play a roll. I don’t think its wrong to have party affiliation. I think it’s a healthy part of democracy to feel an affiliation to a party. Many of the issues are not partisan issues that we deal with.
Do you think having a republican majority on the BOCC will affect anything?
Probably not. If there is, it may be that more fiscal conservatism will prevail, but for the most part, no.
Changes you want to see for Grand County
I want to try and spend my first year on the learning and gathering side. I do not intend on making drastic changes my first year, but if confronted with a challenge I will evaluate it and make changes if that is what my evaluation tells me. Marijuana is probably going to be a subject of serious evaluation for the county. There is a lot of angst on both sides. There are a lot of folks for it, with good reason to be, and a lot against it, with good reason to be. It will probably require quick action.