Winter Park businessman Chas McConnell runs as write-in candidate for county commissioner |

Winter Park businessman Chas McConnell runs as write-in candidate for county commissioner

Winter Park resident and Republican write-in candidate Chas McConnell is running for the District 1 Grand County commissioner spot against incumbent Democratic candidate James Newberry.

McConnell has lived in Grand County for 29 years and started McConnell Printing Company in 1989, which he continues to own and operate in Winter Park.

In 1990, McConnell married Ann McConnell, an accountant and business manager. The couple has two children, Lucas, age 12, a seventh-grader at East Grand Middle School, and Kaitlin, age 8, a third-grader at Fraser Valley Elementary School.

Q. Why did you decide to run?

A. The people of Grand County are represented by three county commissioners in three commissioner districts. The county commissioners from Districts 1 and 2 are running for re-election unopposed. I feel that we, the voters, in Grand County deserve a choice. We haven’t had a new commissioner from District No. 1 in 12 years. A new commissioner would provide new thoughts and ideas and a fresh approach to finding solutions for the problems our county faces.

Q. Why as a write-in candidate?

A. I have considered making myself available for service in county government for a long time. After thinking it over and talking to friends and family, it became clear that running as a write-in candidate at this time was the right choice. There are just too many issues facing our county right now. I realize that running as a write-in candidate will be challenging, but I am committed to finding solutions to the problems our county faces. The time is right.

Q. What do you think needs to be changed at the county?

A. Development in the county has begun to slow down. Now is a good time to take a breath and review how Grand County manages development. Grand County needs to revisit how it handles building inspections, as well as protecting existing subdivisions and their covenants and restrictions. We need to find a way to ensure that the homeowners are protected.

With the pine beetle epidemic, we have a massive amount of material that needs to be disposed of. Last year, over five thousand piles of slash were burned county-wide. Burning is the fastest and cheapest way to dispose of this material. Burning conditions, weather conditions and topography vary greatly in our county. On any given day, burning in Kremmling or even Granby is not the same as burning in the Fraser Valley. The Grand County Department of Natural Resources has done a good job in managing our county-wide burn program. I would like to work with the Department of Natural Resources and the towns to explore the possibility of creating site specific burn programs, as well as creating more flexibility with burn dates if conditions are appropriate.

Q. What do you think are the top issues facing the county?

A. Certainly water is the No. 1 issue facing our county. Currently 60 percent of the water in the Upper Colorado and Fraser rivers goes to the Front Range. Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District wants 20 percent more of our water. This would drop our current flows by 50 percent, affecting our fish and wildlife, our recreation and our economy. We cannot let this happen. The environmental and economic impacts are just too great.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Windy Gap Firming Project has just been released. The EIS does not include a plan to mitigate the impact to our rivers. Now is a very important time to convince the state and federal governments that taking more water from Grand County (and other Western Slope counties) is simply not a good idea.

Greener lawns on the Front Range are not more important than the welfare of our rivers. Grand County is on the front line of Western Slope water issues. Other counties on the Western Slope are watching what is happening right here. We should all take the time to learn more about this important issue. It will affect everyone.

Another important issue facing our county is recycling and the Granby Landfill. If we do nothing, the Granby Landfill has a life expectancy of only three years. We have to recycle. Right now, the biggest producers of recyclable material, local businesses, do not have an outlet to recycle. We must look at all options to fix this problem. I would like to explore the opportunity of utilizing the railroad system throughout our county as a means to remove the waste. One thing is for sure, we can’t continue to go down the same road we are currently on.

It is great to see the new pellet plants creating new jobs and using the vast natural resource we have here with all the pine beetle-infected trees. We need to find more ways to create and enhance business opportunities in Grand County. Small business is the fiber that holds a community together. We need to help these businesses.

The next big natural epidemic is the zebra mussel that has begun to affect our lakes. We need to be pro-active in finding solutions to this problem.

Q. What do you think you bring to the table?

A. As a business owner in Grand County, I understand the challenges of running a business. There never seems to be enough money, and material costs are constantly going up. You learn very quickly to listen to your customer, respect them and to work to meet their expectations. The skills I have developed over the past 19 years of running my own business and the interaction with people in our community will transfer well into the duties and responsibilities of a commissioner.

Q. How are you campaigning?

A. As a write in candidate, printed material will be used to help voters know to write in the name, Chas McConnell, as District 1 County Commissioner. Other plans include attending as many community events as possible to meet the people in Grand County and listen to their concerns. I welcome your comments and questions, please feel free to call Chas McConnell at 970-531-1022 or e-mail or visit

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