The Commish

Shawn Bolton visited with customers at Meeker Cafe the morning after the Aug. 10 primary election. Bolton will be sworn in as a county commissioner, replacing the retiring Joe Collins, in January.

Commissioner-elect Bolton ‘trying to get a handle on things’

Shawn Bolton visited with customers at Meeker Cafe the morning after the Aug. 10 primary election. Bolton will be sworn in as a county commissioner, replacing the retiring Joe Collins, in January.
MEEKER I Shawn Bolton won’t be sworn in as Rio Blanco County’s newest commissioner until January.
But even when he officially takes office, he’ll still be a businessman at heart.
“I’m not a politician,” Bolton said “I’m a businessman.”
The pro-business theme was a central part of Bolton’s campaign message throughout the months leading up to August’s primary election.
“I guess campaigning was just getting out and talking to people. That’s basically what it is,” he said.
Bolton, who finished third at the Republican Assembly in April, won a close three-way race in August, edging out fellow Republicans Pat Hughes and Wendy Gutierrez.
Bolton complimented his fellow candidates in the August primary.
“I thought it was a good race,” he said. “Nobody got nasty with each other. That was a good thing. It wasn’t like all the crap you see on TV with people slinging mud.”
Bolton will replace four-term commissioner Joe Collins, who is retiring.
Since the August election, he has begun the process of familiarizing himself with county business.
“I’ve been going to the meetings when I can, just trying to get a handle on what they’re doing,” he said. “Any person can go to those commissioner meetings and ask all the questions they want. It’s not a closed-door deal.”
Like other government entities in Colorado, the Rio Blanco County commissioners are awaiting the results of Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101, which are on the ballot for November’s general election.
Supporters say the proposed measures would make government more efficient and cut government spending. Opponents say the measures would be devastating to local governments and the services they provide, as well as cost jobs in Colorado.
“That has everybody scared,” Bolton said of the ballot issues. “There’s so much uncertainty right now. Pretty much everything is on hold. I don’t think you’ll see anybody make any decisions until after the election. It’s just hard to say what will happen. People just don’t know.”
Like his fellow commissioners, Bolton is concerned about what will happen if these proposed measures pass in November. County Commission Chairman Ken Parsons wrote a letter to the editor opposing the measures that was published in last week’s Herald Times. The Meeker and Rangely school boards have letters to the editor in this week’s newspaper, voicing their opposition.
“If these pass, government will have to get smaller,” Bolton said. “You’re going to have revenues that are going to drop off quickly.”
Bolton understands the frustrations of voters, but said Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 are not the answer.
“Is it responsible? Probably not,” he said. “But people are tired of having things rammed down their throats, like health-care reform.
“But it’s the people on the other side of the hill (Front Range) who vote stuff in and out,” he said. “We’re kind of the silent minority out here. Well, not the silent, but the minority.”
As a business owner himself, Bolton understands what many businesses in Colorado are experiencing because of the sluggish economy.
“You have a lot of work going on in some other places, like North Dakota,” he said. “Colorado is just kind of flat right now. You watch one news channel and they say the recession is over. You flip over to the next channel and they say the recession isn’t over. Nobody knows.”
In 2001, Bolton went into business for himself, starting Bolton Fencing and Construction. He’s experienced the ups and downs associated with the energy industry, which is crucial to the economy in northwest Colorado.
“You go where the work is. That’s why they have trucks,” Bolton said. “Next week, we’re going to send some guys to North Dakota to work. You do what you gotta do.”
When he first moved to Rio Blanco County, Bolton worked for ranchers Sam and Ginny Love.
“Working on a ranch, that’s what I’ve done my whole life,” he said.
Bolton was born and raised in Fruita. He moved to Meeker in 1996 from Delta.
“I’m not far from home,” he said. “I’ve stayed on the Western Slope of Colorado. That’s been it for me.”
As Bolton prepares to assume office, his wife, Misty, and her son, Danny Moody, have assumed more of the day-to-day operations of the construction business.
“Things are falling into place,” Bolton said of the transition. “They’ve got things handled very well.”
Bolton will bring that business-minded approach to his role as a county commissioner.
“I just want to do a good job,” he said. “You need to put yourself in their shoes and treat people the way you want to be treated. I know I’m not going to be able to please everybody all the time. But my goal is to please the majority.
“It comes down to the bottom line,” he said. “That’s the way it works.”
Just like in business.