The race is on for commissioner’s Republican nominee

RBC | Two local Republicans, Gary Moyer and Mike Hoke, are vying to be the candidate on the November ballot for the next Rio Blanco County Commissioner, replacing current chairman of the board Shawn Bolton. Only Moyer’s name will appear on the primary ballot, to be mailed next week. Hoke is running as a write-in candidate.

Even if you are independent or unaffiliated voter, you can vote in the primary.

The Herald Times has printed each candidate’s responses to our questions in full, submitted via email.

The questions:

Please provide a brief bio and local history.

What kind of Republican do you consider yourself, from a party standpoint? (i.e. fiscally conservative, centrist, moderate, etc.)

What decisions has the BOCC made in the last 5 years with which you disagree? What would you have done differently given the information you had available to you at the time?

What are the greatest challenges currently facing the county and how do you think we can address those challenges to the benefit of all?

In your opinion, where should economic development be focusing its efforts and why?

What’s your position on transparency in government and how do you think it could be improved for RBC?

What industry is the most important industry for the county to support?

What potential conflicts of interest or challenges completing your term could you see arising if you were elected?

Anything else you’d like to share that’s not mentioned here?

 

MIKE HOKE

Mike Hoke

Please provide a brief bio and local history.

I moved to Meeker 41 years ago and worked at the Colowyo mine. I retired after 31 years at the mine. When the school was having problems obtaining drivers I decided to come out of complete retirement to drive a school bus. We raised our children here and they all graduated from the Meeker schools. Now half our children still live here as well as  five of our 13 grandchildren. After a couple of years in Meeker I became an EMT and served on the Meeker Ambulance Service as well as out at Colowyo. I also served on the Town of Meeker Planning Commission for several years and was vice chair for the last couple years when I served on the commission. I was elected to the Meeker Sanitation District Board of Directors in 2009 and have served as the chairman for the last four years. I was elected to the Pioneers Medical Center Board of Directors in 2010 and served as board president for two of those eight years. With my position as president of the PMC Board I also served on the Pioneers Healthcare Foundation and the Freeman Fairfield Trust. With my service on these different boards I gained a lot of knowledge and experience that I believe definitely qualifies me for the position of county commissioner.   

What kind of Republican do you consider yourself, from a party standpoint? (i.e. fiscally conservative, centrist, moderate, etc.)

I consider myself a fiscal conservative who believes in smaller government and in letting the people have a greater voice in the decisions that have to be made. I also believe you must take care of your employees and community needs, but at the same time you have to be fiscally responsible.

What decisions has the BOCC made in the last 5 years with which you disagree? What would you have done differently given the information you had available to you at the time?

One of the biggest mistakes made was the underestimation of the broadband and having to continue it at a cost of $14 million. I do not have all the facts but it seems oversight on the installer appeared fairly lax. They seemed to hop all over town with no clear plan or direction. That had to eat up time and money. The justice center was a project I feel should have been done with more input from those employees who knew the needs of their departments and the long term consequences of a flat roof in snow country should have been seriously considered. Having just finished the hospital project not too long ago, I recognize there are two things that need to be done right the first time: the foundation and roof. A pitched roof will shed snow, ice and water and will last much longer then a flat roof. They are a little more expensive, but will payoff in the long run.

What are the greatest challenges currently facing the county and how do you think we can address those challenges to the benefit of all?

The economy and jobs are by far our greatest concerns. Although there is a plan in place to help local entepreneurs with work spaces, I believe we can expand that help with those that might have ideas that are non-competing with some expanded services and limited financial grants. We have to do more to encourage other businesses and small manufacturing to come into our communities to utilize the infrastructure we already have. Also, we need to approach the present administration to help expedite the Wolf Creek dam project and try to complete the OHV trail between Rangely and Meeker.

In your opinion, where should economic development be focusing its efforts and why?

We should be focusing on the infrastructure we presently have and what the college can do to help train employees of small industrial companies that may want to come here as well as local entrepreneurship. Meeker and Rangely each have their own unique attributes and resources that need to be utilized and advertised. We have a lot to offer and we need to get the word out. It is a fact that people are leaving big urban areas for smaller communities because they are tired of the crime and congestion they have to deal with on a daily basis. I believe it is possible to add to our community without compromising our quality of life.

What’s your position on transparency in government and how do you think it could be improved for RBC?

I am a very strong advocate of transparency in government or any taxpayer based organization. I also believe that the board consent agenda should not be used to hide important information from the public.

What industry is the most important industry for the county to support?

Agriculture and energy (oil, gas and coal) hold an equal value of importance in this county. We also need to recognize the economic contributions of Natural Soda, our federal government entities, and outdoor recreation. 

What potential conflicts of interest or challenges completing your term could you see arising if you were elected?

I cannot foresee any conflicts of interest since I do not have a personal agenda. The major challenges would be educating myself on current projects and initiatives and making informed decisions.

Anything else you’d like to share that’s not mentioned here?

Rio Blanco County does not have a strategic development plan at this time making decisions for the future more complicated. I believe this needs to be done before any new major projects are started.

 

GARY MOYER

Gary Moyer

Please provide a brief bio and local history.

I grew up near Meeker where my family operated a logging and sawmill business. I graduated from Meeker High School and then completed a Bachelor of Science degree in forest products at the University of Minnesota. Since returning to Rio Blanco County, my wife Betty Lou and I raised three children while owning and operating a small business for the last 35 years. From 1983 to 1995 I owned and managed Moyer Lumber, a retail building materials business. In 1989 I started a wholesale tree farm that produces and distributes nursery grown trees throughout Colorado and surrounding states. Betty Lou has worked as a nurse for Pioneers Medical Center for more than 30 years and continues to manage Pioneers Medical Center Home Health. My oldest daughter Kelly works as the director of institutional effectiveness at CNCC in Rangely, and her husband, Matt operates the wholesale tree farm they recently purchased from my wife and me. I’m continuing to assist with the farm as needed. Our first grandchild was born a couple months ago and is the sixth generation of our family in Rio Blanco County. Jessica, my middle daughter, works at Family Dollar and Jamie, our youngest daughter, works at Mountain Valley Bank, both in Meeker.

I have served our community by representing the landowner and being a strong advocate for the citizens of Rio Blanco County (RBC) at the local, state and national levels through the following volunteer activities:

Mid 1980s – Vice President of the Meeker Chamber of Commerce

2006-Present – Board Member on the White River Conservation District

2008-2011- President

2012-Present – Vice President

2006-Present – Board member Upper Colorado Plant Material Center

Served in all officer positions

2009-2017 Colorado Association of Conservation Districts (CACD)

2009-2017– North Platte, White and Yampa Watershed Representative on the CACD Board of Directors

2010-2011 – CACD Vice President

2012-2015 – CACD President

2011-Present – National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD)

2011-2014 – Colorado Delegate on NACD Board of Directors

2011-2014 – NACD South West Region (CO, WY, UT, NV, AZ, NM)

Chairman

2015-Present – NACD Executive Board Member, representing the South West Region

2015-Present – Chairman of the NACD Natural Resource Policy Committee

My background has proven that I am knowledgeable and experienced with not only hearing the concerns of the public, but then putting them into action.

I have effectively and professionally communicated the concerns and ideas of the citizens of RBC by speaking and testifying before state and national elected officials. Many of these concerns are related to natural resource topics such as oil and gas, rangeland health, forest health and water rights. These experiences, combined with 35 years of owning and managing small businesses in RBC has provided me with the opportunity to listen and understand the concerns and ideas of the county residents. I have been vested in Rio Blanco County my entire life and look forward to serving in this new capacity.

What kind of Republican do you consider yourself, from a party standpoint? (i.e. fiscally conservative, centrist, moderate, etc.)

I am a strong conservative and believe in a limited role of government. I support minimal regulations and a free market economy.

What decisions has the BOCC made in the last 5 years with which you disagree? What would you have done differently given the information you had available to you at the time?

It is not productive to second guess decisions that have already been made, but as we move forward I believe it is critical for us to manage the county with a common sense, conservative fiscal policy. It is also important that we have continued strong representation by knowledgeable and qualified people at every opportunity. For example, the appointed representatives for affiliated organizations like Club 20 or the Resource Advisory Council should be a true reflection of the majority of the people of the county. As 75 percent of the land in Rio Blanco County is federally owned, the county should always play the lead role in representing the concerns and interests of its citizens, promoting a multiple use approach. This representation should be consistent with the majority of the values, customs and cultures of the area.

What are the greatest challenges currently facing the county and how do you think we can address those challenges to the benefit of all?

The biggest challenge facing Rio Blanco County today is the decline in assessed property valuations. This results in decreased tax revenue that the county and special districts collect, making it challenging to balance the budget and maintain all operations. During the most recent boom, assessed valuations increased but now they are declining. Currently our revenues are approximately the same as were collected in 2008, prior to the boom, but our spending is still roughly at 2010 levels. We have to get our spending in sync with our revenue. To address this, our revenue should increase through economic growth by taking an “all of the above approach,” but especially by promoting multiple use of our resources.

Special districts on the west end of the county are facing more significant shortfalls than those on the east end of the county due to their comparative lack of reserves. I am optimistic that the financially strong special districts on the east end of the county can voluntarily work together for the benefit of the entire community.

In your opinion, where should economic development be focusing its efforts and why?

Economic development’s purpose is to promote a higher level of sustained economic activity. As explained in question 3, a multiple use approach to the management of public lands is the driver of much economic activity in Rio Blanco County. By encouraging all uses of the lands, we can help create a higher level of economic activity. Economic development should assist anyone attempting to create or grow an endeavor that will contribute to the economy by minimizing overly burdensome regulations and helping to maneuver through the red tape.

We need to focus on strengthening who we are and what we have, not try to be something we are not. For example, CNCC has a first class aviation flight program in Rangely with other institutions interested in partnering with them to grow the program bringing more students and more employees to the county. We need to consider what the county can do to strengthen existing assets.

What’s your position on transparency in government and how do you think it could be improved for RBC?

I strongly believe that any unit of government that uses taxpayer dollars has an obligation to be transparent to the public, since we are the ones funding them. All books should be open, from Rio Blanco County to the special taxing districts. Board members should be available for any questions about the finances or operations to ensure accountability.

What industry is the most important industry for the county to support?

It is not the county’s role to be more supportive of one industry over another. We should be supportive and appreciative of all industries as they all contribute to our communities and economies. It is well known that the energy industry pays approximately 85 percent of the property tax in RBC and they deserve our sincere appreciation, but so should every industry from agriculture to recreation and everything in between as each one is vital to our economy. It is not the county’s role to pick and choose which industries we are supportive of. We should treat all industries with equal respect and appreciation, offering support for all industries.

What potential conflicts of interest or challenges completing your term could you see arising if you were elected?

I have no immediate family members employed by the county. Should I be elected as county commissioner, I will step down from my position as a board member of the White River Conservation District. Due to the way the White River Conservation District is funded, I believe it would be a conflict of interest to remain on the board should I be elected so I will resign that position. I foresee no issues or challenges that would prevent me from completing the term as county commissioner.

Anything else you’d like to share that’s not mentioned here?

My decision to run for county commissioner was not last minute or spur of the moment, but instead was long thought-out and, well-planned. Prior to making my decision to register with the Secretary of State’s office in November, I did my homework. I took the time to visit with many of Rio Blanco County citizens to better understand their concerns and hopes for the county.

Following the discussions I had, I filed my paperwork. This decision was made based on my  experience serving on boards, representing Rio Blanco County at the state and federal level, as well as being a local small business owner and county citizen for more than 35 years.

Finally, I would like to add that I am very excited about the opportunity to serve and represent the citizens of Rio Blanco County in this new role. Just like you, I am an honest, hardworking member of the community and am passionate about leading Rio Blanco County into the future. Listening to the concerns and hopes of the citizens, I will do my best to reflect the values, customs and culture of those who elect me. I look forward to continuing to serve the people  of Rio Blanco County and would greatly appreciate your support.