Nelson, Turner face off for commissioner seat

Special to the Herald Times

Editor’s Note: The Herald Times asked both of the Republican candidates – the incumbent Forrest Nelson and the challenger Kai Turner — the same questions in advance of next Tuesday’s primary election. They are running for a seat on the Rio Blanco County Commission. Their responses are published in this week’s edition.
We thank both candidates for their time in answering the questions.
Forrest Nelson

Why do you want to serve as a county commissioner?
I have worked most of my life for the betterment of Rio Blanco County and wish to continue in this role. The county is facing critical issues. I want to serve as your commissioner. My passion is for the welfare of our county, protecting its future, and maintaining a balance between responsible energy extraction and preserving our way of life.

Why do you think you are qualified to serve?
I have spent the past eight years learning important lessons and leadership skills while serving as your county commissioner. This experience has afforded me the opportunity to gain knowledge of the county government system, and to appreciate Rio Blanco County’s unique qualities and invaluable employees. Prior to serving, I was a member of the county planning commission, school board, WREA board, ASCS committee, county fair board and 4-H Foundation, 4-H livestock leader, Woolgrowers, president of American Paint Horse Association, American Suffolk Sheep Society and Stockgrowers. These different boards and organizations helped me to better understand the intricacy of boardmanship, working with a variety of personalities, and most importantly listening to all information presented before making a decision.

What strengths would you bring to the office?
The knowledge and leadership I have gained through the past years will enable the county to go forward in a steady progression if I am re-elected. I have willingly dedicated many years toward county and community service. My years of service have allowed me to have a working relationship with legislators and state and county officials for the benefit of Rio Blanco County. I bring a strong base of established, working relationships in areas critical to building and protecting Rio Blanco County’s future, for example, board member of Colorado River Water Conservation District, Northwest Transportation Planning Region and Northwest Colorado BLM Resource Advisory Council.
Proven, effective leadership abilities.
Proven, effective management skills.
Ability to evaluate issues fairly and honestly — always taking an intelligent, common-sense approach.

What do you see as the major issues/challenges facing Rio Blanco County?
Gas development is creating huge funds that both the state and feds continue to raid. These funds were designated to return to impacted communities and counties. We must continue to be aggressive for the return of these funds.
The obvious challenges are keeping current employees and having affordable housing for new employees. The county, towns, local businesses, schools, and hospitals are all faced with these issues.
The urgency to protect our water.
Sensible development planning of private property by updating regulations of the current master plan to more closely align with our current situations.
Making the budget stretch to maintain roads and county infrastructure.

What goals/objectives for the county would you like to see happen, if elected?
To become competitive in the job market. To aggressively seek grants designed to address temporary, affordable housing for government employees. To develop a reciprocal relationship with energy companies. I will continue to fight for the county’s fair share of revenues and establish agreements or alliance with the oil/gas companies, state and federal government.
Change is inevitable, but, the ultimate goal is to continue the legacy of having two towns where people choose to live and raise their families in a safe, friendly and financially sound environment.

If elected, how would you see your role on the board?
My role would be to provide smart, common-sense leadership and decision-making ability to afford the county the best future possible — coupled with proven track record of being a team player and effectively delegating responsibilities of day-to-day management of the county to the department heads. I will continue to stand up and fight for the county’s best interest.

Why do you think you are the best candidate for the job?
I am the best candidate for the job because I will be able to go straight to work of achieving the goals of the county and protecting its viability for the long run. I won’t have a “learning curve” concerning developing relationships and learning the business of managing the affairs of Rio Blanco County. I will be the most effective at ensuring that the county’s best interests are realized by leveraging my experience in business and government and the essential relationships that I have forged, to provide the best leadership possible. The next few years are absolutely critical to set the “footprint” for how the county deals with expansion relative to new development by energy companies. The decisions made will have lasting implications concerning the county’s long-term welfare.
Kai Turner

Why do you want to serve as a county commissioner?
I feel it is time for my generation to be involved in local and state government. I would like to be a part of the decision-making process.

Why do you think you are qualified to serve
My background is diverse with experience in construction management, recreation, agriculture and oil production. I have served on the RE-1 Board of Education for almost eight years and have strong problem-solving skills and experience with team building.

What strengths would you bring to the office?
Being born in Rangely and raised in Meeker, I have a good understanding about what is important to the citizens of Rio Blanco County. I have strong communication skills and do not hesitate using them to seek out information. I also have experience in planning, logistics and coordination between work groups.
What do you see as the major issues/challenges facing Rio Blanco County?
Funding and long range planning. Responsible growth and affordable homes for future generations. Strengthen communications.

What goals/objectives for the county would you like to see happen, if elected?
Keeping the economy strong. Work hard to maintain and attract long-term diversified employment and business opportunities. Ensure the White River watershed stays in the White River drainage. Eliminate layers of bureaucracy. Keep taxes low and fair. Work hard to keep our heritage intact.

If elected, how would you see your role on the board?
Very active, with a lot of travel time to be sure we are engaged at the state and federal level. I will also be visible in the community, communicating with individuals and businesses. It is critical there is planning and coordination between our communities and agencies.

Why do you think you are the best candidate for the job?
I am a team player and can help establish relationships between entities. I understand multi-use of federal lands and believe in it. I will be dedicated to the position on a full-time basis. I am a good listener and I am approachable. I am not afraid to work hard and make tough decisions.