Candidates for county offices speak at Granby election forum
Destination Granby hosted discussions covering county-wide and town-centric issues
Editor’s note: This is the first part of a recap of Granby’s Nonpartisan Candidate Forum, concentrating on the Clerk and Recorder and Grand County Board of Commissioners candidates. The second recap will cover the six candidates for the Granby Board of Trustees and speakers who spoke for and against Ballot 6A.
Grand County residents running for local offices came together on Monday, Oct. 17, for the Nonpartisan Candidate Forum. Destination Granby hosted the event at Middle Park High School, with 11 candidates participating. Issues such as creating affordable housing, balancing development, improving infrastructure and supporting the workforce dominated discussions.
The public heard from candidates for clerk and recorder, Grand County commissioner District 3 and the Granby Board of Trustees. Two community members then spoke about Ballot 6A, which seeks to raise property taxes for homeowners in the Fraser River Valley Housing Partnership to fund affordable housing. Candidates and Ballot 6A speakers each gave 3-minute speeches, then answered questions submitted before the event.
Clerk and recorder
The two candidates for Grand County clerk and recorder, Republican Jolene Linke and Democrat Abby Loberg, spoke to the public about their history in education and public service. They also discussed how they would continue the legacy of Sara Rosene, who served as clerk and recorder for over 30 years. Linke was the forum’s first speaker.
“I taught school for 12 years, which meant patience, understanding and no discrimination or disparaging of beliefs,” she said. “I also grew up on a ranch, which taught me tenacity, common sense, perseverance, hard work and honesty.”
She added her experiences as secretary for the Grand County Republicans, a class officer in law school and election judge prepared her for the role. If elected, she said she plans to fully staff the department of motor vehicles office so there will be no gaps in the service.
Loberg has been a middle-school teacher for 22 years in civics, constitutional law and U.S. history. She described how enthusiastic her students were when she held mock elections.
“I wanted my students to become educated, informed voters and engaged, active citizens,” she said.
Candidates for clerk run under the Republican or Democratic ticket, but Loberg emphasized the importance of the clerk being nonpartisan as they conduct elections.
“It shouldn’t have a ‘D’ or ‘R’ in front of the name, but a ‘P’ for professional,” she said.
Both candidates also spoke about the security of elections, especially mail-in ballots, which the clerk’s office is responsible for counting.
“Mail-in ballots are convenient, but they’re also the method of choice for unethical individuals who abuse the system,” Linke said. “My office will be vigilant in our signature verification system to ensure each and every ballot cast in our county is from an eligible voter.”
She added the Electronic Registration Information Center will further secure the voting process through assessing death records and address changes.
Loberg stated that Sara Rosene’s office has ensured accurate elections that follow all laws, and there’s no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the most recent election.
“I want to make it clear the 2020 election was fair and accurate and Colorado mail-in voting is safe and secure,” said Loberg. “I want continue that legacy so all Grand County voters have faith their vote will be counted.”
Grand County commissioner
Both candidates for District 3 commissioner are well-known public figures in Grand County. Democrat Steve Skinner is currently a producer for community radio station KFFR 88.3, where he offers an internship program for high schoolers.
“I have great faith in the future because I’ve worked with some great youth,” he said.
Skinner explained he’s invested in a bright future for youth — “I’m putting myself in the shoes of local youth. Kids deserve safe housing and deserve early education opportunities.”
He said 300 children are waiting for early education day care opportunities in Grand, so more needs to be done to ensure children can thrive from the youngest age.
Secondly, he plans to concentrate on affordable housing, especially for the workforce and seniors.
“Seniors want to stay in the homes they’re in, but raising property tax values are shoving them out,” he said. “There are no opportunities for seniors to move into a senior housing project that’s affordable.”
If elected, Skinner said he will make sure that youth, housing and seniors “rise to the top of the county agenda.”
Skinner also advocated for preserving the Colorado River, questioning the county’s recent mega developments in the face of shrinking water supply.
“I don’t want to see agriculture get compromised to build condos. I’d rather have cows than condos,” he said.
Republican candidate Randy George followed Skinner with his priorities.
George has worked as the interim District 3 commissioner since May 2022. He owns Kremmling’s Latigo Ranch, a world-renowned guest ranch, and was former general manager of C Lazy U Ranch. George stated he brings his engineering, business administration and tourism industry experience to the role of commissioner.
He explained he is not an advocate for bigger government at the federal level, “but I think we do have government at the county level that exists to do together what we can’t do individually.”
Using his experience in guest services, George stated he respects each resident as “a client, a customer; somebody who deserves service, who deserves to be listened to and whose interests need to be taken seriously. As county commissioner, I’m doing that and will continue to do that.”
George stated a commissioner’s most essential job is ensuring public safety through infrastructure, emergency medical services and law enforcement services. He added that commissioners actively support programs for Grand’s youth, as well as the creation of workforce and senior housing.
“Housing is an issue that’s discussed almost every week by the commissioners. They’re working to help incentivize more affordable housing. … The county’s moving in a good direction,” he said.
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