Co. commission, coroner positions on Aug. 10 ballot

Editor’s note: Ballots for the Aug. 10 primary election will be mailed July 19 to registered voters. There are two contested races in the mail-in election, with three Republican candidates vying for a seat on the Rio Blanco County Board of Commissioners and three Republican candidates running for the position of county coroner. Each candidate was asked the same questions. Here are their responses, in alphabetical order:

County commissioner candidates:
Shawn Bolton
1. If elected, what’s the one thing you would hope to accomplish?
“I hope to reduce the regulations and fees in Rio Blanco County to help promote jobs for the people of this county.”
2. What makes you different from the other candidates?
“I am the only conservative Republican that is running for Rio Blanco County commissioner. I am also the only candidate that has a background in the energy industry, which is the No. 1 taxpaying base in RBC, and I understand how the fees and regulations and an unwillingness to do business affects the residents and businesses in our county. These are the issues that I already deal with on a daily basis.”
3. How would you summarize the theme of your campaign?
“Reduce the size of government and the control it has over our lives. Government does not think we the people have the power to stand up and fix the problems in our government. I say they are wrong; we have all the power.”
4. Describe your leadership style?
“I work well with others, yet I am firm, fair, honest and not afraid to make a decision, even a difficult one when the time or times call for it. I will not be pushed into something I do not feel is right, and I will not sacrifice my principles for anyone. My grandfather taught me that if your word isn’t any good, neither are you.”
5. What have you learned from the campaign about yourself and about the position you aspire to?
“I have learned that the qualities that I possess are the same as what the people want to see in their government and that someone such as myself can stand up and make a difference in times such as these. I would urge more people to do so. As far as the job of commissioner, it will be the same as any other job that you will do. You get out of it what you put in to it. Work hard, keep focused and remember who you work for (the people). It is an honor to serve the people, not a right.”
6. In one sentence, why should voters elect you?
“I am not the status quo.”
Wendy Gutierrez
1. If elected, what’s the one thing you would hope to accomplish?
“I would love to see the economic base of Rio Blanco County diversify. We need to establish a countywide partnership. We will better enhance our job base and level out the booms and busts that we have become accustomed to. Rio Blanco County is rich in natural resources and the energy industry is key to our survival. We need to grow upon the base that has been put in place, and help industry move forward.”
2. What makes you different from the other candidates?
“I will be ready to go to work on day one. My past experience, knowledge and community involvement will give me an edge and cut the amount of time necessary to get up to speed. I have been active in the Meeker community for many years and am prepared to take that knowledge and expertise to the county level. We must involve all the entities in Rio Blanco County to move forward.”
3. How would you summarize the theme of your campaign?
“Growth is not something to fear, but to embrace. Growth can be controlled; however, lack of growth is a very dangerous place for our communities to be.”
4. Describe your leadership style?
“Communication, cooperation and leading by example. I truly believe that communication between people is essential to solving the challenges we face. Customer service is the business I am in and I would like to take that to county government. We must remind ourselves that being a government employee means we all work for the taxpayers.”
5. What have you learned from the campaign about yourself and about the position you aspire to?
“It has been a great learning experience. The county commissioners handle a vast array of complicated issues, by attending most of their meetings, workshops and speaking with citizens on both ends of Rio Blanco County, I have come to understand the depth and brevity of the issues that face us. I will be thorough and thoughtful in decisions that I will make.”
6. In one sentence, why should voters elect you?
“It’s been said people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. I care about Rio Blanco County.”
Pat Hughes
1. If elected, what’s the one thing you would hope to accomplish?
“If elected, I would immediately work to identify both short- and long-term goals for this county with my fellow commissioners. My goals for the county are to promote a stable energy and economic future, develop and maintain a solid county infrastructure (road and bridge), implement common-sense, efficient regulations, cultivate our rural and agricultural base while working to improve the overall quality of life for our residents. With strong leadership, I can help develop and implement the strategies to achieve these goals. Rio Blanco County needs to be in charge of its future and not just respond to the challenges that land in our laps. The county’s goals need to be communicated through clear, concise and consistent policies. Policies and regulations should lay out paths to our success; they should not be expensive roadblocks. Communication is the key to getting our goals accomplished here in Rio Blanco County. There must be good communication between the town of Meeker, the town of Rangely, our county and the state. There also must be good communication between the offices within the county, so that every office is working toward the same goal. Perhaps, most importantly, our county must effectively communicate with the people who live, work and operate businesses here. The Rio Blanco County commissioners work for the residents of this county and everyone should be encouraged and expected to communicate with their commissioners and be confident that their voices are being heard.”
2. What makes you different from the other candidates?
“My history in Rio Blanco County, along with my commitment to strong leadership makes me different from the other candidates. I was raised on Piceance Creek and my family still owns the section where my grandfather homesteaded. I appreciate the history of Rio Blanco County and I am passionate about its future. I believe that through strong leadership and a clear vision for the future the decisions that we make today will have a positive impact on the future. I appreciate how hard people in Rio Blanco County work to make a living. I am like so many folks that live and work here in Rio Blanco County. I own a small business, I know the value of a hard-earned dollar, and I know that unnecessary regulations and taxes can be the final burdens that crush a small business. I am also an optimist. I believe that with the right county commissioners and strong leadership, all of the challenges we face today will be turned into great opportunities for Rio Blanco County to prosper well into the future.”
3. How would you summarize the theme of your campaign?
“Lifelong commitment to Rio Blanco County. Strong leadership. Common sense. We have to have a plan for both the short term and the long term, so that our county can prosper. There must be forethought in the decisions that we make today, so that today’s decisions do not infringe upon the liberties of future generations.”
4. Describe your leadership style?
“I am a leader who benefits from listening to those around me. According to Kurt Lewin’s leadership styles survey, I have a participative leadership style. This style has been found to be the most effective leadership style in a democracy. I am able to offer guidance to group members; I participate in the group and encourage input from other group members. I believe that the discussion and the final decision benefit from group members who are motivated, creative and engaged in the process. I am a good listener; I can take in many thoughts, ideas and opinions when making my decisions. I know that in a position of leadership you owe it to your group, or in this case, the county, to make fully informed decisions.”
5. What have you learned from the campaign about yourself and about the position you aspire too?
“I have learned how very passionate I am about the future of Rio Blanco County. I’ve learned how important it is to listen to all sides and get all of the information that you can before making decisions. The office of county commissioner is not an easy one. During the last year I have attended dozens of county meetings and work sessions. I have a great deal of respect for the people who currently hold office. It is a position that takes listening skills, it requires doing research so that you can make fully educated decisions and it takes patience. You must understand how state and local policies and regulations affect the people and companies who live and work in our county. It is a full-time job, and if elected, I am prepared to fully dedicate myself to being Rio Blanco County commissioner.”
6. In one sentence, why should voters elect you?
“My lifelong commitment to this county and my common-sense approach to politics, business, and life will make a positive difference in this county today and well into the future.”
County coroner
candidates:
Sherri Halandras
1. If elected, what’s the one thing you would hope to accomplish?
“First of all, I would commit to completing essential training and certification for the office as soon as possible. I would also like to see any deputies receive the same training in order to establish a high standard within the coroner’s office.”
2. What makes you different from the other candidates?
“I have the time as well as the medical and professional background to meet the requirements set by the state of Colorado. I also have experience in upper management I feel provides me with additional skills necessary for this office.”
3. How would you summarize the theme of your campaign?
“I have the time, commitment and the medical background to best serve the citizens of Rio Blanco County.”
4. Describe your leadership style?
“I believe in a hands-on approach with an open-door policy to promote good communication both within and outside the office. I also believe in equal educational opportunities for any deputy coroners.”
5. What have you learned from the campaign about yourself and about the position you aspire to?
“I have learned a great deal about the election process and the need for every citizen in this country to participate in this process so our great country will remain a democracy. I have also made it a point to educate myself regarding the requirements of the coroner’s office as well as the state statutes.”
6. In one sentence, why should voters elect you?
“I have the time, commitment and the medical background to best serve the citizens of Rio Blanco County.”
Dr. Albert Krueger
1. If elected, what’s the one thing you would hope to accomplish?
“Re-establish the quality, professionalism and credibility of the office as practiced and demonstrated by Dr. David Eskelson during his distinguished tenure as Rio Blanco County coroner.”
2. What makes you different from the other candidates?
“My professional training, experience and licensing very much set me apart from the other candidates. I would be the most qualified in my interactions with other physicians and the law enforcement community. A physician coroner will be the most credible testifying in court.”
3. How would you summarize the theme of your campaign?
“A physician is the best choice for the office of Rio Blanco County coroner.”
4. Describe your leadership style?
“I strongly believe in communication and accountability. I expect excellence of service from those who are on my team. I believe in ongoing quality review and continuing education.”
5. What have you learned from the campaign about yourself and about the position you aspire to?
“The campaign has confirmed my pride as a U.S. citizen and the importance of defending our freedom by participating in the democratic process. I learned that voters truly care about the position of coroner and want to elect the most qualified candidate.”
6. In one sentence, why should voters elect you?
“I am really the most qualified candidate who will perform his duties with knowledge, experience, professionalism and compassion.”
Nancy Richardson
1. If elected, what’s the one thing you would hope to accomplish?
“I can’t limit it to one thing, as all are important — Improve communication and cooperation between law enforcement, the medical community and the coroner’s office; better compliance with reporting of reportable deaths; financial and record-keeping uniformity and responsibility; thorough and unbiased death investigations; collaboration on community training and education to help prevent deaths and keep our emergency responders safer.”
2. What makes you different from the other candidates?
“I am the only candidate who has the training, experience and the medical and legal certification that is required by Colorado law. Having been a deputy coroner for three years, I already know the challenges that will face a new coroner and how much time and effort can go into a complete death investigation.”
3. How would you summarize the theme of your campaign?
“Experience, education, certification and saving taxpayer dollars.”
4. Describe your leadership style?
“I believe that my leadership style is a combination of many and is adaptive to the situation and the people involved. I prefer to lead quietly and believe in the team approach. Given the opportunity, I like to research the facts and options before making a decision. I believe in open communication and positive reinforcement. I am organized, resourceful and methodical. I lead by example, am compassionate and appreciative. I believe in cooperation and coordination, and that each person should be accountable for their own actions. I can take control of a situation, adapt as needed, provide a calming influence and am dedicated to seeing it through to the end. I believe that every member of a team should feel that they are important and that their opinion matters. I am always willing to help and serve others. I continually analyze and reassess in order to make adjustments as needed for quality improvement. I am open minded, but stand up for my convictions.”
5. What have you learned from the campaign about yourself and about the position you aspire to?
“I have learned that I still don’t like politics and that I’m much more comfortable teaching a first-aid class or performing a death investigation, than I am trying to ‘sell’ myself. I have really enjoyed getting out door-to-door and meeting more of the people at both ends of the county. I have learned that I truly appreciate the people who are honest and stand up for their convictions, even if they are voting for another candidate. I know that there are many things that need to be addressed by whoever is elected as coroner, and just hope that I get the opportunity to address those issues.”
6. In one sentence, why should voters elect you?
“I am the only candidate who has the experience and the required certification, which will simplify the transition and save the citizens of Rio Blanco County the cost of training and certifying any of the other candidates; and because, even though I’ve been deputy coroner for three years and know what is involved with being coroner, I still want to serve as coroner.”