Election 2020: Grand County Commissioner — District One candidate profiles
Two county commissioner positions are up for election this November: District One, encompassing Winter Park and Fraser, and District Two, encompassing Granby and Grand Lake. Due to the size of Grand County, voters countywide get a say in every district. The responses below were submitted by the District One candidates.
Richard D. Ciminio — Republican
Background: I grew up in New Mexico. I played football, basketball and baseball in school, but grades were my number one focus. I was admitted to the Air Force Academy in 1990. My first visit to Grand County was a 1991 squadron ski trip. While standing on a balcony overlooking Winter Park, I told my classmates I would live here someday. I met Nicki Doucette of Hot Sulphur Springs and we married in 1994 following my Academy graduation. We have three children; two are Middle Park High graduates attending college in Colorado, and our youngest is a junior at Middle Park High.
I served as an Intelligence Officer and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. I earned two Master’s degrees. In 2004 I deployed to the Middle East. I retired from the military in 2015 and I maintain the military core values of Integrity First and Service Before Self.
Community involvement: I’m an active member of Lion’s Club, Rotary Club (board member), the Rural Health Network (board member), Grand Innovators (founding board member), the Peak Health Alliance (board member), and I volunteer at KFFR. At East Grand Middle School I coached football and started a Model United Nations program. I ran the Shining Stars Half Marathon twice, took the Polar Plunge for cancer in Grand Lake, supported fundraisers for Trout Unlimited, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), East Grand Education Association, Chambers of Commerce, Infinite West, Grand Foundation, Mountain Family Center, Middle Park Medical Foundation, and many other local charities.
What do you think are the biggest issues facing Grand County? The biggest issue facing Grand County is this: Preserving our quality of life. All the major challenges in Grand County basically boil down to quality of life. Here is a long, yet incomplete, list: water quality and quantity, road quality and safety, public transportation, affordable housing, health care costs and availability, lack of economic diversity, mental health, population growth, trails, public safety, clean air, water, and soil, quality internet, etc. We all need to work together – county, towns, and citizens – to make progress on these issues which determine our special Grand County quality of life.
How would you address them? I will seek cooperation with the towns to form a regional housing authority to invest in more housing programs. I will lead the effort for lower health insurance costs. We will invest in road safety improvements. It’s impossible (in this short article) to describe all we have done and will do. I promise the citizens of Grand County: I will continue to do all we can locally. I’ll also work tirelessly at the state and federal level so that we have more assets to bring to bear on the challenges facing Grand County and our quality of life.
Travis Wildeboer — Unaffiliated
Background: I was born and raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Immediately after graduating high school I got my license as a general contractor and started my own business building and remodeling homes. I met my wife Alyssa after hiking the 2,167 mile Appalachian Trail in 2000. We moved to Grand County two weeks after getting married in 2003. Since moving here we continued operating our small business as well as working in most of Grand County’s industries. Alyssa and I have been competitively running ultra-marathons for the past 22 years and enjoy skiing and snowboarding in the winter. We are currently raising our children Topher, 5, and Tilly, 3. I have worked full time for Grand County EMS as an EMT since 2013. In 2005 we built our first home in Winter Park. With the birth of our children we sold our home and hand built our second home.
Community involvement: Moving here I knew I wanted to one day serve in public office. I have dedicated myself to being a part of Grand County by working in many of our local industries. From tuning skis to driving the local shuttle, there wasn’t a job I wouldn’t do to support my family. My time spent volunteering as a firefighter with East Grand Fire, and working full time as an EMT with Grand County EMS has been filled with gratifying experiences serving my community. I am eager to apply all that I have learned to serve Grand County as the District 1 Commissioner.
What do you think are the biggest issues facing Grand County? Our economy is deeply driven by a healthy tourist industry, success achieved by a robust front line workforce. Whether you call it affordable or attainable housing the issue is paramount; without it, our workforce has no place to live. Herein lies the key. Without a sustainable workforce, we will be unable to accommodate and serve the tourists, eventually the level of service dwindles, as will the tourist base. The profitability in short term rentals in the last 10 years has taken its toll on Grand County residents. We must find a way to balance the pendulum for tourists and locals alike.
How would you address them? First, I hope to join the dedicated team currently addressing the housing shortage, and develop short and long term solutions. Second, we need to bolster our front line employees, so they may continue to be valuable members of our community; whether serving our 4H Committees, Rotary Clubs, School Boards, and other valuable volunteer projects. I fear without them at our table, we will lose all sense of community and what makes Grand County so special. We have been pricing families out of the valley for many years, and for the county’s long term success we must find a solution very quickly.
James Newberry — Unaffiliated
Background: I have lived and worked in Grand County for 40 years. I am very proud of my service to my community. I have been fortunate to have coached, and officiated, basketball, football, and baseball from youth sports to the high school level. I played a key role in the development of the Fraser Valley Sports Complex, the Fraser to Granby Trail, and also added nine holes to Pole Creek Golf Course without raising taxes. During my service as county commissioner I was a lead negotiator on the Colorado River Cooperation Agreement, we built a new maintenance shop in Fraser, upgraded the jail, constructed the Judicial Center, remodeled the Administration Building, upgraded the rodeo grounds in Granby and Kremmling, made major improvements to both airports, established a full time Veterans Service Office, supported the Sheriff’s Department, Search & Rescue and first responders all with no tax increase. I was heavily involved in obtaining a permanent conservation easement on the land between Tabernash and Fraser. We also brought the EMS service to the award winning professional service we have today.
Community Involvement: I have been honored to serve on the Fraser Valley Recreation Dist. Board, as Grand County Commissioner, Grand County Council on Ageing, Colorado River District, Northwest Colorado Council Of Government, chairman of NWCCOG Water Quality and Quantity, lead negotiator Colorado River Cooperative Agreement, and Juvenile Services Planning Committee. I also spent some time as “Santa” for Grand County Pet Pals.
What do you think are the biggest issues facing Grand County?
2. Covid 19
How would you address them?
1. Conservative budgeting, basically not spending money we don’t have!
2. Develop a plan with Public Health, businesses, Chamber of Commerces, and other health care providers to return to business as usual.
3. Follow through on Colorado River Cooperative Agreement.
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The Colorado Department of Transportation has closed Colorado Highway 125 in Grand County with no estimated timetable for reopening.