Grand Junction City Council candidate questionnaire responses

The Business Times sent questionnaires to the 10 candidates in the Grand Junction City Council election asking the same six questions:

1. Why do you seek election (or re-election) to the city council?

2. What, in your view, are the roles of city government and the council?

3. What are your top priorities and how should the council and city government pursue them?

4. How would the city budget reflect your priorities, and how should the city fund major projects?

5. What can, or should, city government do to help or promote business in Grand Junction?

6. What is your opinion on the city’s role in, and handling of, the Brady Trucking issue?

 The following are candidate responses:

Tom Kenyon

District A

Tom Kenyon

1. If re-elected, I would like to complete the implementation of the comprehensive plan and continue to support taxpayers and business with a solid, fiscally conservative budget each year. 2012 budget was $154.3 million. 2013 budget is $145.8 million.

2. City government’s role is to provide quality services to all aspects of their responsibility. City council’s role is to set policy; pass ordinances as needed; review major purchases; provide a vision for the future with the comprehensive plan; review and approve the budget; direct the city manager, city attorney and municipal judge in the conduct of their duties; and defend our home rule charter.

3. I am always looking for ways to improve our business economy, add jobs and improve public safety. During my first term, we signed a 25-year deal for the Junior College World Series and improved the stadium, signed a deal with the Grand Junction Rockies, supported Colorado Mesa University’s growth, built a new 911 emergency dispatch center and police administrative building and renovated the fire station.

4. Items in the budget I strongly support are water, sewer and transportation infrastructure; a new fire station for Pear Park and continued support of Colorado Mesa University and our park system.

5. We should continue support and invest more in our economic, visitor and convention services and increase the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, Business Incubator, chamber of commerce and special events such as USA ProCycling. Continue support of CMU and the new Community Hospital development.

6. Brady Trucking should not pay the price for the city council’s lack of action before Brady Trucking bought the property. Council made a business friendly decision to zone it industrial to attract the business and jobs. This was in direct conflict with the direction and vision of previous councils and desires of many citizens. Citizens get to consider this issue on the election ballot. My opinion is that Brady has paid a very high price to do business in Grand Junction. We should support them and see if we can in the future find ways to further protect our riverfont

Phyllis Norris

District A

Phyllis Norris

1. I am a Grand Junction native who retired from the position of president at City Market. I have a great interest in the way our city is run and how it spends money. Now I have the gift of time to use the leadership skills I developed at City Market to make Grand Junction a safe and viable place to raise families. 

2. Our city government should work to encourage good jobs through business growth, keep our community safe for raising families and spend taxpayers’ money wisely without drawing from funds set aside for emergencies. 

3. Our city should promote business and job growth.  With the economy the way it is, I would not agree with increasing fees for business growth.  I would encourage the work with the ED Partners and support business and job growth with them. We need to make sure our city is safe. We are down several police officers and have had to remove important units just to have enough officers on patrol. We expect a 10 percent turnover this year, yet we have only budgeted to place one officer in training. Our budget should place public safety at the top of the priority list.

4. Our budget should reflect the above priorities first. If we create jobs, we will have more taxes and be able to spend on other important projects. Most projects can be paid for from taxes we currently collect. However, if a project is very expensive (example: beltway), we should go to taxpayers and request bonding. If we ask for bonding, it should be for a specific amount and be paid off in a specified number of years.

5. The city government should not only promote new business, it should support the growth of existing business.  Now is not the time to increase fees … now is the time to help business find a way to expand and build. Now is not the time to take money out of economic development for pet projects.

6. The city council, four years ago, was correct when they originally annexed Brady into the city. The planning department worked with Brady and developed a project that provides jobs and our riverfront trail. It is unfortunate the issue has been held up in court until now, but the city should encourage citizens to vote yes on the Brady question. We can have this great business, great jobs and our riverfront trail.

Bonnie Beckstein

District D

Bonnie Beckstein

 1. My prior experience and knowledge will be an asset in working with the needs of the community.

2. City government is an extension of the community, and the council (members) are the representatives that the community relies on to get their message to city government.

3. Top priorities are to get the infrastructure back on schedule. This should be addressed before other issues are discussed or planned on. The council should work on prioritizing the current needs and working with the city to get a schedule developed.

4. The needs to be reconciled to the budget, the most urgent down to the lesser needs. These priorities need to fit the budget that is available without affecting the need to keep the budget balanced. The city needs to look at all options when funding a major project. And when funding these projects, the city needs to be job-specific. And if it becomes a need to take that project to the voters, it needs to cover one project at a time.

5. City government needs to work with businesses and organizations that are attempting to aide expansion of existing business and creating an environment for new business. The best way is to offer assistance with infrastructure and not always monetary.

6. The city’s role should be to support this business in the need to develop their land as the original code had allowed. To interfere in the landowner’s right to do so is wrong and puts the city in a bad light for inviting growth, whether from expansion of a business or from working to bring in new industry.

Martin Chazen

 District D

 Martin Chazen

 1. I am seeking office because I believe if we spend the right amount of money on the right things for the right reasons, we can have public safety, maintained infrastructure and a business-friendly community that provides quality jobs for our families and graduates. I also believe that we can achieve this with a budget that allows us to live within our means.

2. City governments serve a variety of roles that include police and fire protection, street maintenance, utilities and other public works. Traditionally, these responsibilities are most efficiently handled at the local level. The city government can also encourage private-sector growth with business-friendly policies designed to accommodate growing companies and businesses looking to relocate to our community.

The role of the city council is defined in Article VI of the Charter of the City Of Grand Junction, Colorado. Generally, the seven-member council is the legislative and policy body for the city and is charged with providing overall leadership by enacting laws that allocate resources for projects, services and activities. I interpret this as setting policy and budget priorities.

3. I believe the top priorities start with those services traditionally provided by a municipal government, which include public safety, maintenance of infrastructure, public works and planning policies that encourage the growth of a thriving private-sector economy. These goals should be pursued within a conservative financial framework, a balanced budget and low taxes.

4. Dollars should first be directed to public safety (police, fire and emergency services) and maintenance of infrastructure (streets) before spending on discretionary items. I would make a special effort to catch up on deferred street maintenance. Ideally, I would like to avoid borrowing for major projects by budgeting and setting aside funding in advance. However, if borrowing is needed, it must be put before the voters in accordance with TABOR. And the ballot initiative must meet the criteria of a specific project for a specific amount for a specific period of time.

5. In addition to keeping taxes as low as possible, the city should be flexible as to planning and land use restrictions with special emphasis on allowing developers to use low-cost alternatives for materials and improvements while still complying with codes. I would also have the city actively participate in initiatives and partnerships designed to encourage businesses to relocate to Grand Junction.

6. I approve of the wording of Ordinance 4295 and the City Council decision to put the Brady Trucking issue on the ballot. I am voting for Measure A and encourage residents to do the same. By voting for Measure A, voters can support the Riverfront Trail and preserve the property rights of Brady Trucking.

Laura Luke

District D 

Laura Luke

 1. There are several reasons that I am seeking re-election. The first is because of my unique combination of education and financial experience. And when that is combined with my experience as the incumbent city council candidate, I am notably set apart from my opposition.

As a young woman, I worked to help build my father’s business. And I’ve helped others locally with advice while starting their businesses. I’ve spent time working directly in manufacturing, building prototypes and working with some of this country’s best patent attorneys. I’ve dedicated much of my career working as a financial consultant at Wells Fargo, American Express Financial Advisors and handling investments at U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray. My education includes a master’s of business administration degree from CMU. I also have a bachelor’s of business administration degree with a double major in finance and management. That academic history began while majoring in accounting. I’ve also carried securities licenses, appraisal licenses, insurance licenses and completed education in mining and energy resource drafting. Yes, numbers are clearly my strength. But my comprehensive credentials go far beyond numbers.

There’s an incredible amount to learn when you first begin working on council. Because I’m the type to roll up my sleeves and learn what I must to be fully informed, it translates into being a solid, caring representative for our citizens. It’s vitally important that voters understand having the most current council experience means that in my next term, I’ll be hitting the ground running at a much faster pace than my opponents who either have zero council experience or have been out of the mix for a while. Our citizens simply cannot afford those types of setbacks — especially in this weakened economy. People understand that time equals money. Time lost to train or retrain my opponents would be costly.

I’m very driven and passionate about listening to the needs of our citizens and community. I’m not afraid to make the hard decisions. And if you review the past two years, you’ll find my record shows that. When it comes to setting policy, I believe in keeping the emphasis on our citizens’ best interests and going the extra distance when it comes to follow through. 

Lastly, I have lived in Grand Junction since 1966. I’m not a recent transplant from California. My great grandparents arrived here in 1926. This is home. I began this journey to represent you and not the opposing agendas of select groups. I am emotionally invested in our community. My commitment is steadfast, and I am passionate about continuing my post to serve you.

2. I’ll start with the role of council. The members of the city council are to make policy decisions and laws consistent with the oaths they have taken to represent our citizens. Under the city charter, we are required to follow a city-manager form of government. It’s a good system because it combines political leadership with day-to-day managerial expertise. The city is operated by professional staff members trained in government administration. The city manager, city attorney and municipal judge report directly to city council, and the city council reports directly to constituents. In short, it’s designed to foster a system of checks and balances and works well when council ensures that it does.

3. My top priorities include listening to constituents, embracing local values and providing the leadership necessary to implement the vision of our comprehensive plan. The mission of our comprehensive plan is to become the most livable community west of the Rockies. To reach that vision, the Plan includes six guiding principles, 12 goals and 30 policies designed to shape growth through 2035.

I’m an advocate for the community and the issues that are important to my constituency, which include maintaining a balanced budget, responsible spending and investment, aggressive economic development and helping to resolve homelessness.  

4. Since I have been on council, there has been a significant shift in the approach to the budget. After my appointment, it was my mission to become well acquainted with the budget and make sound, data-driven financial decisions. 

One of the changes that has helped to ensure full and complete access to data is a joint council-staff budget review process. We now have two council members meet with all department heads and staff every quarter to review every budget. I am one of those council members. Those detailed reviews allow for more in-depth understanding of the city’s operations, expenditures and revenues. Through our meetings, we have reinforced the lines of communication between council members and staff. Because the expenditure of money is the most significant expression of policy, our reviews have promoted trust and demonstrated a greater level of budget accountability to our citizens.  

There are various means of funding major projects. The city has had a long history of careful capital planning. I generally support seeking citizen approval through ballot questions — particularly in our recessionary economy.

5. We need to recognize the importance of keeping an open mind as well as thinking outside of the box — particularly when it comes to marketing our community. Marketing must be done both nationally and internationally. We are blessed with incredible natural resources that draw significant tourism to our valley. We need to explore options that offer a wider variety of events and encourage recreational businesses to want to expand or relocate to our city. Because we contend with cyclical industries that impact our region, it demands we not lose focus on cultivating other opportunities in agriculture, education, technology, communications, medical and aviation. We also want to make sure we are working very closely with vital partner organizations, such as the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, the Business Incubator Center and Colorado Mesa University — all of whom are dedicated to job growth and community betterment.

6. The Brady issue is complex. It is also a great example of the strength and importance of local involvement and decision making. For me, the bottom line is fairness, which I believe all parties have had. I wasn’t on council the first time zoning was considered. But because the process allows for it, I was supportive of referring the question to the ballot. It is now going to be up to our voters to decide, and that is exactly the appropriate course of action. 


Harry Butler

District E

Harry Butler

 1. I am seeking re-election to city council because Grand Junction is a great place to live and (offers) quality of life you can’t beat. And I want it to be a safe community for families and kids. I want to see  29 Road connect to I-70 and development of Matchett and Las Colonias Park.

 2. City government deals with infrastructure. City council deals with policy.

3. First of all public safety — police, fire and ambulance service.

4. First of all that we have a strong police and fire department. Sales tax, grants and TABOR.

5. We have a strong VCB who promotes Grand Junction, also a chamber and GJEP.

6. That question is going to be answered by voters.


Duncan McArthur

District E

Duncan McArthur

 1. Running for city council was not something I had ever aspired to do. But with the direction the council has taken over the last few years, it was something that I felt I needed to do. I see the council establishing unfair burdens on property owners — commercial property owners in particular.

As I have said during the campaign, those establishing land use regulations in the city must not lose sight of the fact that it is not their property and they must be judicious when placing regulations on other people’s property.

2. It has been established in the city charter that council is to set policy. The city manager and his staff have the task of implementing those policies.

3. The overlay zones that are being established in areas of the city are incomplete without a process available for the property owners to implement the requirements. Otherwise, planning’s vision of the city becomes the property owner’s burden and serves to devalue their property. By that I mean that real incentives or a financing program should be in place at the time of adoption.

In the budget process, we must prioritize between those items we need and those items we want. As with any business or even family budget, you must take of your needs first.

We must do a better job of preparing for a ballot issue and bring the appropriate information to an issue to avoid appearing to be asking the taxpayers for a blank check. By that, I am referring to Referendum B on the April ballot. When the voters approved the TABOR override for Riverside Parkway, they were told how much the cost was and the time frame for repayment. None of that appears in Referendum B.

4. During the budget deliberations this year, the line item for street overlay was reduced from $5 million to

$2.5 million, with another $1 million being taken from the reserve fund with the total being designated for the Avalon Theatre and Los Colonias Park.

This is an example of what I refer to when I call for prioritizing between wants and needs. Maintaining streets is much cheaper than replacing streets. We must think long and hard about getting behind on maintaining infrastructure.

 5. The first thing any governmental entity can do to promote economic development is get out of the way. Regulations that place economic burdens on property make that property less attractive to potential buyers. Excessive fees are a deterrent to new businesses.

In Mesa County, community leaders have done an excellent job in forming an effective partnership between the city, county, Business Incubator and the Grand Junction Economic Partnership. The city should continue to support this effort.

6. The City of Grand Junction followed its existing procedures with Brady Trucking. While city council was deadlocked over the initial approval of the zoning change, the deadlock was broken and the request approved.

The problem was with the opposition attempting to impose “mob rule” on Brady Trucking and then taking the issue to the courts when their petition was found to be flawed.

Hindsight is always 20-20, but the city was offered this property years ago but turned it down. The property did not become of any value to anybody until Brady Trucking purchased the site and started cleanup operations by removing the former rendering plant. The right thing to do is to allow them to go forward with the expansion of their business.


Robert Noble

District E

Robert Noble

 1. First, I worked 34 years in public service, and I found that very satisfying. Second, a council representative should represent the entire community, not just the well-connected. Small projects are being neglected in favor of big ticket pipe dreams. Our neighborhoods are being neglected. I want this imbalance corrected.

2. City government must deliver those services that citizens expect: water; garbage pickup; clean, well-maintained streets and parks. The council is responsible for these services being delivered efficiently and economically. The council also encourages and manages the city’s growth for the benefit of hard-working taxpayers. It should not spend money on expensive projects benefiting only a few influential insiders.

3. The council should put greater emphasis on the smaller projects that more directly affect the taxpayers. Let’s breathe new life into the North Avenue and Horizon Drive projects as they will create a more vibrant commercial district and better show our viability as a business community. We need to pursue projects that contribute to livability, such as developing trails and bike paths, the riverfront project and a community recreation center. These would especially benefit families and retirees. The 29 Road corridor project will be extremely expensive. That project would primarily benefit the contractors and developers and those few who own property along that section of road. Let’s do projects that will make a difference for more of our community sooner.

4. I would work hard to ensure projects would benefit neighborhoods and the people who live in them. I would make sure working families and retirees are not forgotten when city hall makes decisions. The city has a number of funding options available. We must examine them in relation to the size and priority of each proposed project, meanwhile making sure the taxpayers are aware of the implications of our decisions. The city should make keeping taxes low a priority.

5. The city government can do the most by making sure the infrastructure is in place to make our city attractive to new business. Keeping our tax rates low is a key incentive for businesses to move here. Public-private partnerships, enterprise zones, the incubator center, the industrial park and the Downtown Development Authority are very important in encouraging economic development. Council should foster a climate of stability so that existing businesses can grow and flourish. City government should also aggressively promote the city through the Visitors and Convention Bureau.

6. The city had to make a zoning decision regarding this property as it was annexed after it was purchased. The zoning decision was disputed by petitions signed by enough citizens that the city was required to reconsider that zoning decision. This process was complicated by a lengthy legal battle to determine the validity of the petition. The issue is now on the April ballot so that voters can decide whether the original zoning ordinance should be repealed. This is part of a process prescribed by the city charter. It appears to me the matter has been handled both legally and responsibly. Mr. Brady is entitled to a fair return on his investment. No one disputes that. I understand there are negotiations underway to resolve the matter by outright purchase or by a land swap. Either course could represent a practical solution to this problem. Smart development of the Riverfront could create a new economic anchor in the downtown area. Council’s actions on the Brady issue should be part of a long-term vision for the riverfront.


Rick Brainard


Rick Brainard

 1. I am seeking a seat on city council because I believe our city council needs more pro-business leadership. I am a huge believer that when our local businesses are strong and their business thriving, that it will create more jobs for the citizens of Grand Junction. I have demonstrated throughout my career the ability to successfully grow businesses and create jobs. I can do the same thing for the City of Grand Junction.

2. I am not sure about your differentiation between city government and city council. I see both of those as one in the same. Our council-manager configuration is common across the United States in home rule cities like Grand Junction. Therefore I see the role of council as policy making and legislative authority. I see the role of administration as the managers’ responsibility.

3. My priorities are:

Energizing as many pro-business initiatives as it takes to get our local business healthy. I’m serious. I have worked firsthand with previous councils to this exact affect. And those of us in business need to do our part as well to help identify how the city can help them to become stronger — when our businesses are stronger, so is our community.

Re-assess current city spending versus revenue. There are many projections, initiatives and maintenance needs that should be considered in our city. Effective leadership and management can manage a budget to spend within their means and still achieve those goals that need to be completed.

Public safety and infrastructure. It is critical in any city for its citizens to feel safe in their neighborhoods. This safety is not only the boots on the street in the form of the police department, but fire and rescue services as well as citizen awareness and support. Timely response is critical for the citizens to feel the required level of safety throughout our community.

Cultural development. Every city, as it grows, should embrace the arts and do its part to grow its cultural assets. I’ve been fortunate in that my career has sent me all over the world to economically diverse cities and communities that didn’t do just a few things well — they supported their communities with venues for cultural development as a key part of their economic growth and success. Grand Junction deserves to have a balanced approach to access all of those things our citizens expect for a well-rounded and diverse lifestyle necessary to attract and grow the types of job-creating enterprises our community is ready for.

4. As I mentioned previously, creating conservative budgets, combined with a healthy business environment, is paramount to Grand Junction’s ability to grow into the economic powerhouse it can be. The city, like any business or organization, needs to live within its means. At the same time, the city can leverage its business assets to foster growth and, therefore, revenue. By doing this well, we can have both aspects: living within our means and funding the projects necessary for that economic growth.

I do not believe it is appropriate to use financial reserves to fund non-budgeted projects. Financial reserves are just that, emergency use funds to deal with the unforeseen. If we use those funds for day-to-day projects, we are setting our entire community up for a terrible failure.

The same goes for TABOR. There have been recent examples of good uses of excess TABOR funds to be used for a specific project that our city needed. This project was well defined in scope. It had a start and an end date and was well declined. The idea of using TABOR to fund poorly defined projects with poorly defined scopes is wrong.

Furthermore, to embrace the idea that TABOR funds are there for the taking by putting it on the ballot for the voters to decide in 2013 when the authors of the ballot measure know quite well there will be no excess TABOR funds until at least 2015 is deceitful and misleading.

The bottom line? The excess TABOR funds can be a useful tool when appropriate with well-defined projects. But it should be last-course approach rather than the means to further exceed what the budget will allow.

5. I cannot even begin to fully answer this question. It is critical that businesses bring their issues and their ideas to the city to evaluate if and how they can work together to foster economic growth.

I can tell you I have done this personally. I came to the city with a problem and a plan. I laid it all out for the council and the council that was in place at that time saw the value and executed the plan. That decision over the next three years warranted more than 100 new jobs to the community, millions of dollars into the community, and everybody won — and they still are.

So together, private business and the city developed a solution that leveraged a business asset for economic growth. There are a lot more opportunities like this. We just need to encourage more businesses to come to the table.

6. I believe the Brady Trucking issue has been greatly taken out of context. Everything Brady Truck has done has been done properly and by the rules. In addition, Brady Trucking has demonstrated over and over that they are willing to do the right thing and are a good community partner. I also believe that Brady Trucking will do everything they have promised to make sure their co-existence with the Los Colonias Park is resolved in a manner with which everyone can live.


Bill Pitts


Bill Pitts

 1. I am seeking re-election to the Grand Junction City Council because I am passionate about Grand Junction.  I wasn’t born here. I wasn’t transferred here. I came here because I liked it and it was the place I wanted to raise my family. I left the largest manufacturer of security equipment in the world after declining two promotions from Denver to relocate first in Los Angeles and the next in Chicago in order to move my young family to Grand Junction and start my own business ventures. Most of my family live here, and I want this community to continue to be the best place on Earth to live.

2. City government’s purpose is to provide services necessary to maintain a sustainable community and plan for its future. The council’s responsibility is to set the policies to put in motion the steps necessary to provide those services.  

3. Today’s top priority is the TABOR question which will be on the April 2 ballot. The council’s responsibility is to adequately inform the public about the ballot question and how TABOR affects our community.

4. The city budget would directly reflect the outcome of the ballot question as referred to as the TABOR Amendment. Major project funding is directed by public input.

5. To promote business in Grand Junction, the city government should resolve the airport controversy. The airport management is discouraging private business. A lot of businesses have left the community because of airport management. There are several ingredients for a prosperous community: an interstate highway, an airport, education and medical care.

6. The city government should continue to negotiate with Brady for an agreeable solution prior to the April 2 ballot.