RBC commissioner candidates answer questions

Ballots for the 2012 republican primary election will be conducted by mail-ballot, which will be delivered to local mailboxes between June 4-8 and are due back Monday, June 25.
Two Rio Blanco County commissioner seats are being contested by four candidates on the primary ballot. Incumbent Kai Turner is being challenged by Jeff Eskelson and Chris Brasfield and Jon Hill are both running for the seat to be vacated by Ken Parsons.
In an effort to better inform voters, all the candidates have agreed to a attend two forums, sponsored by the Herald Times and the Meeker Chamber of Commerce, to be held in both Meeker and Rangely June 20 and June 21. Time and location of the forums will be determined by next week’s issue.
The candidates were asked six questions and their responses, in alphabetical order, follow.

• Chris Brasfield
Please tell us a little about your background and how long you have lived in Rio Blanco County?
I have lived in Rangely for 18 years and raised two children and have three grandchildren. I have been married to a wonderful husband for 30 years. My professional career consists of a degree as an administrative assistant with an emphasis in information technology. I have held the office of Town Clerk and administrative assistant, which consisted of managing a senior facility. I was the safety instructor for all employees and did the website upkeep. I have the background and experience that I believe will enable me to be an effective county commissioner facing Rio Blanco as a whole with the diverse challenges. I am familiar with community concerns and how important public involvement is to the citizens of Rio Blanco County.
If elected, what’s the one thing you would hope to accomplish?
The list of accomplishments below are not mine alone but this list represents the hard work of countless county employees, private citizens and other public and private partnerships working together as a team.
1. Make government more open and accessible to the residents of Rio Blanco, 2. Actively seek citizen involvement, 3. Maintain fiscal accountability, 3. Provide services efficiently and courteously, 4. Provide for planned growth in housing and business development.
What is your vision for Rio Blanco County in the next four years?
To grow as a regional destination for employment, economic development, commerce and cultural pursuits.
How are you different from the other candidate?
I believe in the common sense approach. Work with all types of business to maintain our economy. Not to implement regulations over and above what the state and feds already have in place. I would like to improve communications with citizens through public meetings, media and technology. I will provide high quality, cost effective fair and equitable public service to the citizens of Rio Blanco county.
Describe your leadership style?
My leadership style is in the manner and approach of providing direction, implementing plans, and speaking well in front of people which motivates people to become more active and involved with what is happening in Rio Blanco County.
In one sentence, why should
voters elect you?
I have a strong compulsion to do good and strongly desire to defend the well-being of the community.

• Jeff Eskelson
Please tell us a little about your background and how long you have lived in Rio Blanco County?
I was born and raised in Meeker Colo. I have lived in Rio Blanco on and off my entire life. I worked as an engineer in Heavy Industrial Manufacturing for almost twenty years. I have a background in Project Management, Personnel Management and Financial Controls. I have worked extensively in the oil and gas arena, from roustabout crews to project management for mid stream projects right here in Rio Blanco County.
If elected, what’s the one thing you would hope to accomplish?
Create a more business centric culture within the entire county. I want to enhance and propagate strong business relationships both with companies that already exist in Rio Blanco County and potential businesses looking for a future, great place to do business.
What is your vision for Rio Blanco County in the next four years?
• Stronger business oriented solutions.
• Goals and objectives that move not just business development forward but also address the customer service and satisfaction that the tax payers deserve.
• A quantified organizational structure utilizing the same methods, tools and processes to achieve common goals.
How are you different from the other candidate?
My business background is more extensive than that of the incumbent. I also have more experience developing and managing projects, people and large scale financial systems.
Describe your leadership style?
Tough but fair. I think anyone drawing a paycheck needs to be accountable for the dollar they are making. I also think that common metrics should be employed to facilitate monitoring of employee productivity.
In one sentence, why should voters elect you?
I will work diligently for the taxpayers of Rio Blanco County, I will do so without waffling on major or minor decisions and I will make the tough decisions keeping the overall picture of Rio Blanco County’s fiscal and natural resource management at the top of the priority list.

• Jon Hill
Please tell us a little about your background and how long you have lived in Rio Blanco County?
I graduated from Rangely High School in 1971 and attended The National College of Business in Rapid City South Dakota the winter of 1973-74. I was named president of our family ranch operation in 1975 and have been running it since then. I have served on cattlemen’s association boards since 1974, served on the Columbine Park Board, the Rio Blanco County Planning Commission, the White-Green-Yampa Roundtable, and the Northwest Resource Advisory Council. I have been in 27 states and 13 foreign countries. My wife Fran, grew up on a Bookcliff ranch, we have three sons, Tim [Carrie], Jake [Brenda], Logan [Jen] and seven grandchildren.
If elected, what’s the one thing you would hope to accomplish?
If elected my main focus will be to hold the bottom line. Nationally we are in a bad economic situation. The natural gas industry is at the bottom of their cycle. Tourism is always dependent on someone making extra dollars in another part of the world before they will come to Rio Blanco County to spend them. On the other side, the livestock industry is in a good financial position, but expenses are catching up. The outside forces of drought, the Front Range wanting our water, state and federal regulations, endangered species, taxes, will make the next four years a real challenge. A commissioner’s job should be to take care of public safety, transportation, and allow people the ability to better themselves.
What is your vision for Rio Blanco County in the next four years?
My vision for the next four years is for the county to come together as a whole to stand up to the outside forces and get back to being in charge of our own destiny. There are too many regulations and mandates forced on the county by the feds and the state. If we can get back total local control of our schools, the land and water then we will be better able to attract new business, take care of our resident’s needs, and continue to live the multiple use lifestyle we enjoy in this county, and also that our children would be able to stay and have secure employment.
How are you different from the other candidate?
All my life I have lived a nomadic lifestyle, following the cattle from the winter range to summer range and back, first with tents, then sheepcamps, and now with travel trailers and fifth wheels. In May and November we caged the chickens and the cats and loaded them on pack horses and drove the milk cows with us in and out of Bitter Creek. We got electricity and a man on the moon the same year, 1969. Now we have a satellite dish for the Internet, cell phones and the roads allow us to go to the grocery store for eggs and milk any time we want.
Describe your leadership style?
When I set policy I have done my research and have my arguments in place before the meeting. I prefer to listen to other proposals in public meetings or from employees and have time to think before giving an opinion or making a decision. I do want people to have emphasis on the greater good rather than their own pet projects. When a decision is made then I expect to hear better reasons for not doing something than it is hard or they just don’t want to do it.
In one sentence, why should voters elect you?
I should be elected because I understand the basics and have a desire for a better life for all our citizens.

• Kai Turner
Please tell us a little about your background and how long you have lived in Rio Blanco County?
I was born in Rangely in 1962 and raised in Meeker. After graduation from Meeker High School, I worked for The Industrial Company (TIC) and attended a two year Construction Management program sponsored by TIC at Colorado Mountain College. Working in several intermountain western states, I supervised approximately 50 people, including two concrete crews, one rebar crew and a structural steel crew. I also coordinated and scheduled equipment and manpower for mechanical and electrical construction work. I returned to Meeker in 1990 and worked for Colowyo Coal until 1994. My lifelong interest in Rio Blanco County’s outdoors led me to purchase a guiding and outfitting business. With the help of my family, I operated and expanded the business. I sold it in March of 2012, but continue to part time contract as a professional fly fishing and elk hunting guide.
If elected, what’s the one thing you would hope to accomplish?
There are numerous challenges ahead. If I have to narrow it down to just one thing, I would have to say water storage. In order to diversify our economy and attract new businesses and industry, Rio Blanco County must secure a reliable supply of water in storage and not risk having the lack of a reliable water supply being the limiting factor not only for maintaining our existing industries, including agriculture, recreation, and energy, but for promoting future economic development opportunities.
What is your vision for Rio Blanco County in the next four years?
My vision is to keep Rio Blanco County debt free while maintaining one of the lowest county mill levies in the state. By maintaining conservative operating budgets and insisting on well thought out long range planning, we can continue to save money and complete needed capital projects without incurring debt or raising mill levies. Our low mill levy has encouraged energy companies to build large scale industrial facilities in our county and will continue to encourage future development. We must maintain support for the multiple use and development of our abundant natural resources. Our natural resources are vital to our future economic well being.
How are you different from the other candidate?
I am experienced at county government. During the past four years I have worked hard to gain valuable experience and knowledge on how county government works. I have learned that managing the local operation of the county government is only a fraction of what it means to be a county commissioner. Rio Blanco County’s relationship to the state government and the federal government is vital to our survival. I have established relationships with a number of key state and federal officials and am involved on several organizations at the state level. I am a member of the board of directors of the Colorado River District and serve as the Rio Blanco County representative on the Yampa/White River Round Table. I am an effective representative for Rio Blanco County. I have been able to head off many unfunded mandates and unneeded regulations, helping to maintain local control. I have successfully strengthened Rio Blanco County’s relationships with many industries currently operating in our county. I have worked to promote teamwork within county government. I have worked with staff members to streamline and simplify our planning and building processes. I know being an effective county commissioner is a full time job. I have given it my full attention the past three and a half years and if re-elected, I will continue to do it.
Describe your leadership style?
My leadership style as a county commissioner is to, with the other commissioners, decide and set policy and direction and then step back and provide guidance as needed, to the county’s competent staff. I believe effective teamwork is essential to a properly functioning county government. I do not believe in or have time to micro manage the county staff. I do believe in active involvement with county departments to maintain my awareness of how well we are functioning in providing effective service to the residents of Rio Blanco County.
In one sentence, why should voters elect you?
I believe I have proved during the last three and a half years that I am an effective commissioner, willing to give whatever effort is needed to efficiently manage Rio Blanco County government while at the same time effectively representing Rio Blanco County in state and national politics.