Candidates for Meeker Town Board present thoughts on the office

Wendy Gutierrez

MEEKER I There are five candidates for three four-year terms on the Meeker Town Board of Trustees, and the all-mail election closes April 5.
Ballots were mailed to voters earlier this week. The board has six members plus a mayor, with three member seats and the mayor up for election every two years.

Mayor Regas Halandras is running unopposed for a second two-year term. The hold-over trustees whose terms will expire in 2018 are Rodney Gerloff, Scott Creecy and Danny Conrado. Current Mayor Pro Tem John Strate is term limited.
Current incumbent Bryce Ducey, who has served since 2013, having originally been appointed to a vacancy, is not running for re-election. Current incumbent Travis Day is running.
The board and mayor serve as the town’s governing body, setting policy, determining town priorities and direction, adopts policies, resolutions and ordinances and their direction is followed by Town Administrator Scott Meszaros.
The five candidates for the three seats are Travis Day, Jason Dunham, Wendy Gutierrez, Melissa Kindall and Chris Lockwood. We asked each of the candidates six questions. Here are their answers.
The Meeker Chamber of Commerce has scheduled a public forum for the five candidates at 6 p.m. on March 28 at the Freeman E. Fairfield Center in downtown Meeker.
Q: What motivates you to run for Meeker Town Council? Do you have a particular agenda or passion?

Travis Day
Travis Day
TRAVIS DAY
I moved back to Meeker in 1995 to work with my dad at our company, Water Pump Supply and Service. In 1999, I married my beautiful wife, Katie. We now have two boys, Charlie and Josh. I am currently serving on three boards: the Meeker Sanitation District, Rio Blanco County Planning Commission and Meeker Town Council. I graduated from Meeker High School in 1988.
The thing that motivates me to run for election on the Meeker Town Council is having a desire to see the community grow and thrive while continuing to be a positive place to live. Growing up in the water supply and construction industries, I feel, gives me the ability to see the big picture.
Jason Dunham
Jason Dunham
JASON DUNHAM
I am a Meeker native. I work full time with my parents at Meeker General Mercantile. I am also pursuing the art of beekeeping: honey production and sales, queen and package bee sales and pollination. I am very excited about getting married this summer to Karen Iacuone. I graduated from Meeker High School in 1992, spent several years in Denver and came back home seven years ago with a newfound appreciation of the larger world and modern day economy.
What motivates me to run for town council is looking for a way to be more involved in the community and with a couple of our current trustees—who have done a very good job—not seeking re-election, I figured this would be a good time to run.
I think I can make a positive difference because I try to stay very informed on issues related to the nation and Colorado in general that have the potential to impact Rio Blanco County, Meeker and Rangely. When it comes to an agenda, I don’t have any proverbial axe to grind, but I do come with a mindset that even with current downturn in the economy, it is not the time to pump the brakes and stop looking for alternative economic avenues that would compensate for our boom/bust energy cycles and our six-month only-recreational income.
Wendy Gutierrez
Wendy Gutierrez
WENDY GUTIERREZ
I am originally from Colorado Springs, a third generation Colorado native who moved to Meeker in 1980 to work at Multi Mineral Corp. on Piceance Creek. Later l was hired by Rio Blanco County and charged with bringing the county into the computer age. I worked at the county for 14 years before realizing my dream of opening my own business. I opened Wendll’s in 1994 and the business continues to evolve after more than 20 years. I have been married for more than 10 years to Bobby, and, between us, we have three grown children, seven grandchildren and one more due next month.
As a business person I feel it is our obligation to be public servants to help guide our community. I have been involved as a board member and otherwise with the Meeker Chamber of Commerce in the past and am excited to see the opportunities possible with the Town of Meeker. I believe we all do best when we work through collaboration and partnerships.
Melissa Kindall
Melissa Kindall
MELISSA KINDALL
I came to Meeker in 1980 to work for Northern Coal Co. I was born in Rifle and went to school in Glenwood Springs. Now I’ve been a range technician and wild horse specialist at BLM since 1982. I moonlighted for several years, in a relief role, at the county dispatch center. I also was a relief bus driver for the school district. I am currently a member of Meeker Volunteer Fire and Rescue and am an EMT. My two grown sons were born here and graduated from Meeker High School.
With the kids gone, I have the necessary time to devote to being a town trustee. I am a positive person overall, and with time available to research the needs and requests of the community, I would strive to find a positive balance with the available monies, people and organizations.
I do not have a particular agenda or passion. To be a quality board member, no matter the organization, one must make decisions based on common sense. I do believe Meeker has much to offer the local population as well as the touring public.
Chris Lockwood
Chris Lockwood
CHRIS LOCKWOOD
I moved to Meeker in the spring of 1990 to take a job as a fishing guide. Lynn and I married here in 1994. Our daughter, Kate, was born to us in 2006. I have been self-employed in my construction small business since 2007. We feel very fortunate to live and raise our daughter in a wonderful small town atmosphere. We enjoy Meeker’s outdoor pursuits such as fishing, hunting, skiing, hiking, camping, biking, etc.
My decision to run for the council was motivated by a desire to give the citizens of Meeker a choice and to encourage an actual vote. I can offer an open mind, respect for historical decorum, and the ability to admit when I am wrong. My particular passion would be the imposing problem of getting pedestrian traffic across Highway 13 (Market Street). We need to connect the two sides of our town by providing a safe and pleasant passage across that barrier.
Our river corridor is one of our most valuable assets, but it cannot be fully utilized without a solution to the pedestrian crossing issue.

How do you see Meeker changing, if at all, during the next five, 10, 30 years?
TRAVIS DAY
I see Meeker transitioning towards more recreation and technology for its primary sources of income and relying less on the oil and gas industry. Don’t get me wrong, oil and gas will always have an important role in our economy and we should support their growth.
JASON DUNHAM
Personally, I don’t see the general complexion of Meeker changing over the next five to 10 years. In 30 years, who knows? But I do see the economy of Meeker and Rio Blanco County being rather slow for next five years. I do see the farms and ranches over the next five to 30 years going from working and productive to being sold for summer homes and recreation as more of our farmers and ranchers inch closer to retirement in the next few years.
WENDY GUTIERREZ
I would like to see us diversify our economy and encourage small businesses to locate in our community. We don’t need to add 2,000 people to Meeker, but adding 200 could be a game changer for Meeker’s success and survival. Meeker is such a special place to live and work, the sales pitch is easy; we simply need to keep getting the word out there about our fantastic amenities.
MELISSA KINDALL
I’m not sure I see much change in the future for Meeker in at least perhaps the next five or 10 years. I have lived in Meeker since 1980 and survived a couple of boom and bust cycles based on energy development.
Meeker needs to seek ways to retain an economy that works for the young, middle aged and old, and I’d like to help find it. I have no idea what Meeker will look like in 30 years, but feel it could be struggling on all fronts without working hard the 29 years prior.
CHRIS LOCKWOOD
The future is bright for the Town of Meeker despite the uncertainty in the natural resource extraction industries. The citizens’ willingness to embrace change and seek other means of economic strength is very encouraging. I have no timeline predictions, but instead a strong conviction that the tough people of this town will outlast any tough times we may encounter.

What are your thoughts about town services—police, street maintenance, water, trash and downtown décor? Is there any benefit to collaboration, combined services?
TRAVIS DAY
The town is doing a good job with its police, road and water services. I feel the town is continuing to reach out and grow partnerships with other entities. For example, to enhance the downtown area a new speaker system was added. I would like to see the beautification project grow by the town working with the chamber and the rec district.
JASON DUNHAM
The town and its employees do excellent work providing services to our citizens, especially when you take into account that the town’s budget is quite modest compared to the budgets of some of the special districts and the services that they supply. Let’s face it, what is more important to Meeker? Plowed roads in the winter? Waterlines promptly fixed when water is running down the road? Or maybe it is more important that we have two or three more baseball fields or another truck or lawnmower for the cemetery. I believe it is a good idea to collaborate and work together to incorporate different points of view between the city and county for the benefit of the residents.
WENDY GUTIERREZ
I believe in encouraging efficiency —if it makes sense. Collaboration between districts is always a good idea. We as a community need to look at the common sense approach to the potential of combining service. Each taxing district has its own board, and coming together should always be on the table.
MELISSA KINDALL
I’ve always been generally happy with the town’s services. Having worked as a relief dispatcher, I have an understanding about what our police department efforts include. I was happy to see the sidewalk work that took place, but believe more winter maintenance may be necessary. Water and sanitation services have always been dependable. My trash is via a private company just like my electricity. The downtown decorations are fine with potential vandalism a concern. One would need to research the potential for any savings or benefits associated with … combining such services with budget and public concern in mind.
CHRIS LOCKWOOD
All town employees take great pride in their duties and the results are evident. Town services are constantly improving as the result of innovation and commitment on the part of those valuable employees and input from the citizenry. The town manager does a great job of balancing historical procedure (“how we’ve always done it”) with current technological innovations, and modern methods of operation. Carefully measured collaboration and combination of services is a natural part of this system.

How would you help the Town Council foster unity and progress on community growth and development? How would you get empty downtown buildings filled with long-term enterprise?
TRAVIS DAY
Being on multiple boards helps me bring unity to the community by keeping the communications open between different entities. The town is offering site enhancement grants and economic development grants to local businesses. This helps give businesses a boost to improve their storefronts and make it possible to upgrade their businesses.
JASON DUNHAM
I would look at all points of view with openness and non-judgmental eyes when it comes to making decisions that would impact the potential growth and development of Meeker. If we want our store fronts downtown to have successful businesses, I believe the general consensus is that Meeker and Rio Blanco County in general need to find a more stable income base than the boom/bust economy of the oil and gas industry.
WENDY GUTIERREZ
Encouraging community growth and getting more people into our town is the answer to so many of the problems our businesses face. We need to open our doors to new businesses and bring their employees and families here. More people will beget more demand and more opportunity to get those empty buildings full.
MELISSA KINDALL
In order to help the council foster unity, a trustee needs to be knowledgeable about the diverse needs and wants of potential collaborators so a clear direction can be set to drive progress towards community growth and development. My commitment is evident in my previous service as a board member for the Eastern Rio Blanco Metropolitan Parks and Recreation District, the RE-1 School District, Meeker Sportsmen’s Club, the Sheepdog Trials and supporting the local swim team.
CHRIS LOCKWOOD
Collaboration is paramount to our progress as a community. We are fortunate to have many bright-minded folks from diverse organizations dedicated to the future of our community. We could help by facilitating and coordinating these efforts to promote a cohesive and unified image. I would also like to see a motivated and effective grant writer employed to help us fully capitalize on available resources. Long-term vitality of the downtown area can only be realized through good planning, unified efforts and dedication.

Do you feel the marijuana industry and its tax revenues hold any potential for Meeker?
TRAVIS DAY
I spent a lot of time looking at the marijuana question. I feel it should be a question that goes to a vote of the people to decide whether Meeker wants to allow it or not. I do not feel the council should make that decision based upon possible tax revenue. Personally, I don’t think we have the demographics to bring people from out of town to create the tax revenue. To the north, we have Steamboat Springs, a ski resort that sells it, and to the south, we have Parachute and Debeque on the I70 corridor, which allow marijuana sales.
JASON DUNHAM
Of course there would be potential for tax revenue if there were a marijuana industry in Meeker. It is a literal modern day gold rush that is generating a lot of tax revenue for small towns around Colorado, but just how much potential tax revenue could be generated here in Meeker is literally the million-dollar question.
WENDY GUTIERREZ 
I believe in business. While this is a controversial question to some, I believe in business and free enterprise. The subject of marijuana is moot until someone brings a business plan to the town. It isn’t an issue until then, and then the plan would have to be considered on its merits.
MELISSA KINDALL
Regarding the marijuana industry and its tax revenue potential for Meeker, this needs to go to a vote of the residents to decide if they want such an industry, and, if they do, then it is the job of the board to determine the number and type to be accommodated. Meeker needs to keep all options open for consideration. I have no idea what the estimated amount would be from tax revenues. Personally, I believe there’s a limit to how much you can regulate and control people (i.e., people drink, they drive, they crash, they kill others; people get guns, they shoot people; people get addicted to prescription drugs, they overdose).
CHRIS LOCKWOOD
The potential exists for the marijuana industry. However, the pride and politics of a small town must take precedence over potential tax revenue. The citizens of Meeker have shown very strong opposition to the new laws regarding marijuana. As such, any new business or cannabis-related proposal should be decided by referendum.

Do you feel the current commitment of the Meeker Town Council to implement the Better City plan for a major downtown shooting sports training facility and complex, downtown housing renewal and a shooting sports business cluster is appropriate?
TRAVIS DAY
I feel the Better City plan is still in development and needs to be looked at closely. It sounds really exciting, and Better City has done lots of research to come up with ideas. The shooting complex is just a small portion of the whole plan, which includes affordable housing among other ideas. I feel these next few years are going to provide great change and I would like to be a part of it.
JASON DUNHAM
It was very proactive of Rio Blanco County and the town council to reach out to a consultant like Better City because it is good to get an outside opinion on the business potential for Meeker. So to be honest, I really need to do more research on the implementation of the Better City plan for the shooting sports complex and business and housing cluster. I do see the potential for something very unique and special. I am interested in seeing the potential economic impact that it would have and how they plan on acquiring the land and water needed for such an endeavor.
WENDY GUTIERREZ
I believe we must make every effort to move this community forward. If we as a community continue as we have in the past, I am very concerned about where we may end up. Public/private partnerships make a lot of sense in attempting a change of this magnitude. This could be a much-needed game changer for our town; we need to start saying yes to moving forward and stop saying no before we have a chance.
MELISSA KINDALL
Regarding the Better City plan and the commitment by the Meeker Town Council for a shooting sports training facility, Meeker needs to keep all options open for consideration. It would be great if the statement “build it and they will come” could hold true. All hopes are that it will not be a costly, painful mistake. If Meeker is branded as the place to learn to hunt and fish, we need to make sure we have one of the West’s premier hunting and fishing locations available to the public. I have a hard time hunting and fishing on private lands.
CHRIS LOCKWOOD
I absolutely thank and applaud the current town council for its efforts to promote responsible and sustainable growth. The implementation of the Better City plan should be thoroughly considered and continually reevaluated prior to the commitment of large expenditures. I very much look forward to being a contributing part of that process.