From My Window: Commissioner race gets more interesting with Hill vs. Rector

Sean McMahon, Editor
Sean McMahon, Editor
Out my window the winds are starting to increase, the clouds are getting darker and I am getting exciting a bit about the approaching possible blizzard.
Many folks were startled a couple of weeks ago when former Rio Blanco County sheriff Si Woodruff announced his plans to take on fellow Republican and incumbent Jeff Eskelson for his seat on the Rio Blanco County Board of Commissioners.
Shawn Bolton isn’t up for re-election and everyone I spoke with in Rangely and Meeker felt pretty sure that incumbent Republican Jon Hill from Rangely would be running unopposed.

I got a call from Rangely’s Jeff Rector on Monday and it appears that Jeff, a Republican as well, is going to take on Hill.
This is all of a sudden making things really interesting as far as the future of the board of commissioners.
It certainly looks out my window as though the Republicans will retain all three seats on the board, but the big question is, will all three commissioners remain the same or will there be one incumbent or two new commissioners on the board. Could be a mild rain storm or it could be a full-blown Nor’easter. To see even one or, possibly, two seats change in the election may well bring about a major shift in direction for Rio Blanco County.
The Republicans will hold their various assemblies on March 12, which is only nine days away, and it will be tough to predict what could happen in that short time.
I would hope that all four of the candidates end up with at least 30 percent of the assembly vote and move on to the actual primary, which will give us all time to take a more complete, closer look at the candidates.
With two of the three candidates, it will truly become imperative to have the folks understand and dissect these four candidates.
All four candidates are known to many if not most people in Rio Blanco County.
But this is one time friendships alone should carry no sway.
The current commissioners have a lot of progressive irons in the fire and subjects like broadband would be a massive setback if derailed.
The current commissioners have a lot starting to roll along the economic development front as well as the county/Meeker/Rangely groundwork set for the Better Cities program.
Am I advocating that all voters vote for the incumbents?
Am I advocating that the incumbents be overthrown?
I am advocating that the voters of this county take a good look at the issues facing the future and not vote for any one candidate because they have known one of the candidates for years.
That is bordering on the insane and ludicrous.
To say that “I have known (name any one of the four) for 30 years and he has always been pretty square with me so I am going to vote for him,” is just plain ridiculous.
Because he has been square with you doesn’t mean he is going to be a good commissioner. And if you really think he has been square with you, remember you aren’t a member of the press who is going to quote him for public consumption.
No, I am not going to recommend a candidate in either case. I actually like all four candidates.
For as long as I have been a registered voter (44 years) I have been registered as an Independent.
This is a Republican battle and I am not a Republican. My vote means nothing. But there may be some good weight given to my logic.
Folks … Republicans … please get to know where the candidate stands on issues and what directions they want to head, and are there any vendettas or hidden agendas in the races and give it all an honest, unbiased look.
All four candidates can most likely handle a seat on the board of commissioners—the incumbents staying in stride and the challengers are both smart enough to catch on and handle the job. But if the challengers are going to follow right along and run the same agenda as the incumbents, then there is no reason to change members of the board.
One can assume that the challengers are challenging for a reason—either obvious or a hidden agenda—and it is up to the voters to find out where that direction will lead.

On Tuesday, I will have lived in Rio Blanco for three years exactly. It has been an interesting time, filled with challenges, boo-boos, successes, good news, bad news, good friends, some not-so-food friends, interesting news, depressing news, hot weather, cold weather and weather that is just right.
One thing that really stands out in contrast to the several years I lived in Arizona before moving back to Colorado and into Rio Blanco County is that Colorado has four seasons. I missed that in Arizona.
While the Grand Canyon State doesn’t offer temperatures about 28, 29 and 30 below zero, which I have seen in the past three years, it does offer temps up to 130 at nearby Bullhead City, and the word there was that 130 was always the high temperature there because there wasn’t a thermometer that could register any higher.
Let’s just say that when you park your car, which is well air-conditioned, within 50 feet of a store and you are drenched from sweating in those 50 feet, it is hot.
When I lived there, the coolest I ever saw in 18 years is 12 above zero in my home town of Kingman. And, it seems that when the winter is over, sometime in early April, it doesn’t take long to hit 90 degrees. Also, when the summer is over, sometimes as late as November, it doesn’t take long to get down into the 20s at night.
But what sticks out to me about Rio Blanco is its people.
I don’t think I have ever seen, even in towns many times the size of Meeker and Rangely, the citizenry of those towns respond so quickly and so completely when there is a desperate individual or cause that is truly in need of help.
Another feature about living here is the abundance of events that take place in Rio Blanco County, beginning in April and running until the weekend after Labor Day. Besides a series of one- or two-day events, there are some full-blown activities that take place over three, four and five days that involve complete community involvement and hundreds of volunteers.
The events, and yes I know there are more, include Range Call in Meeker (Fourth of July) as well as Fourth of July in Rangely, the Rio Blanco County Fair, which involves individuals from every nook and cranny of the county, Septemberfest in Rangely, and it all culminates with the Meeker Classic Sheepdog trials, the weekend after Labor Day. This year in early summer is the new five-day event of the Cattledog Trials.
Anyone who says there is nothing to do in Rio Blanco County during the summer is crazy. There is something to do almost every weekend as far as attendance is concerned, but there are also several of those events that require the volunteers to show up in volume—and they do.
Plenty of folks are always available for help, and that is truly a big positive as a sign of community cohesion and unity.
Not many larger cities and towns have as many volunteers show up to assist in some community functions as they do here.
Then there are the people.
The folks here are an interesting lot.
There is no stereotype; even the folks in Rangely have a different mindset than those in Meeker and vice versa. They are a unique lot.
Maybe they represent small town Colorado and small town America.
Maybe they just represent good ole folks.
But the people are cordial, polite, considerate and interesting, it seems, wherever they go. They are all good at making one feel at home in a face-to-face encounter.
I have found many people who agree (those who haven’t lived here for decades or generations) that it is a tough task to break into the inner circles that exist around the county. But while familiarity and acceptance can take quite a long time, the “pioneers” are never rude, unpleasant, discourteous or mean.
It is not too tough to understand the mindset of generations of locals who like the area as it is and are slow to embrace “progress” and change.
But it is what it is, and there is much to appreciate about the pioneers, the newer residents, the scenery and even the weather.
Rio Blanco is a beautiful place year around.
And I can say I have been very happy to call Rio Blanco County my home for three years with no plan in sight to leave down the road. It took me more than 20 years to return to Colorado after I initially left.
To quote well-known transplant Coloradan John Denver, who is no longer of this earth, “Gee, it’s good to be back home again.”
And yes, spring has got to be coming!