Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Hayden resident Jeff Fry, owner of Bears Ears Excavation Inc., will be on the Republican primary ballot as a candidate for the board of county commissioners; he secured 63 percent of the vote at the Routt County Republican Assembly held May 8.
Fry needed 30 percent to make the ballot for the District II seat representing West and North Routt county. He beat out former Routt County Building Chief Mark Marchus, who received 27 percent of the vote.
The outcome of the assembly did not surprise Fry, who thought that Marchus' problems with the county might influence delegates' votes.
"I think Mark has got a pretty full plate as it is, and the delegates thought he was tied up with that now," he said.
Marchus, who had clashed with the county over his termination earlier this year, was not available to comment on whether he will seek to petition his way onto the primary ballot.
A Routt County resident for 39 years and a 1976 graduate of Steamboat Springs High School, Fry will run against incumbent Doug Monger, a Democrat.
Fry, 45, lives with his wife and three children on a small cattle ranch north of Hayden.
The need for new leadership that takes better care of taxpayers' money inspired Fry to run for the county commissioner seat, he said.
He is particularly critical of the $15.5 million price tag on the planned county justice center.
To help fund the center, he said the county has taken $1.4 million from money used to maintain the county's roads and bridges, which are seeing more wear and tear with the area's growing population.
"That's a lot of gravel or equipment to do that job with. ... We'll never see that money again," said Fry, adding that someone with his experience in building roads has never been on the board of commissioners.
In terms of growth, he's confident that his 30 years in the construction and excavation business will provide valuable insight into the development facing Routt County.
Fry also wants to initiate more connection between county commissioners and their districts. Meetings should be held every two months between commissioners and their constituents because "you just lose touch with the general working people if you don't," he said.
Another important issue on Fry's list is the proposed Emerald Mountain land swap, which he opposes. The three-way deal involves 14,000-plus acres of scattered Bureau of Land Management parcels throughout the county that would be sold to private owners in order to purchase and conserve the State Land Board-owned Emerald Mountain, which is 6,345 acres.
Fry said proposal contradicts the county's anti-sprawl mindset.
"They are opening up sprawl when those BLM parcels are sold. ... There's going to be a lot more building going on if people buy that land," he said.
Incumbent Monger has been involved in moving the land-swap proposal ahead.
In a speech to delegates, Fry also said that if elected, he would work to protect water and property rights and seek federal dollars for state highway and county road expansion.
Further expansion at the Yampa Valley Regional Airport also needs to be addressed, he said.
Also at the Republican Assembly, incumbent Nancy Stahoviak, an Oak Creek resident, received 80 percent of the vote as a candidate for the District I seat.
Stagecoach resident Bea Westwater, who received 15 percent of the vote, plans to petition to get on the primary ballot for the District I seat.
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