Election Day, November 3, looks to be the date that could determine the direction our country is headed. On the national front, we will be making our choice for President, Senator and US House of Representatives. On the state front, we will choose our state Senate and House representation, as well as CU Regent. On the home front, 2 of the 3 Board of County Commissioners seats are up for grabs, as is the Treasurer’s seat, vacated earlier this year when Christina Whitmer retired. 

Multiple candidates are vying for these local roles, so we asked the candidates to tell us more about themselves, share their ideas and describe why they are best suited to meet the needs of the citizens of Grand County.  

Mail-in Ballots should be received soon and are due by November 3 at 7 pm. There are drop-off locations in Fraser (Grand Park Community Rec Center); Granby (Town Hall); Grand Lake (Town Hall); Hot Sulphur Springs (County Admin Building); and, Kremmling (CSU Extension Hall). If you opt to mail your ballot in, it will take additional postage and should be mailed by October 27 to ensure delivery by Election Day.

The Winter Park & Fraser Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a virtual Candidate Forum, with state and local candidates, on October 14 from 4:30-7:30 pm; and, the Winter Park Times will also host a series of Candidate interviews on KFFR 88.3 FM – watch the website for more details.

Richard Cimino – District 1 County Commissioner

Born in 1971, I grew up in the small town of Raton New Mexico.  I played football, basketball and baseball in school, but grades were my number one focus.  I was admitted to the Air Force Academy in 1990.  My first visit to Grand County was a 1991 squadron ski trip.  While standing on a balcony in Meadow Ridge overlooking Winter Park, I told my classmates I would live here someday.  I met Nicole Doucette of Hot Sulphur Springs in 1993 and we fell in love and got married in 1994 right after my Academy graduation. 

I served over 20 years as an Intelligence Officer and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.  Nicki and I moved 10 times through my many assignments.  We have three children, two are Middle Park High graduates attending college in Colorado, and our youngest is a Junior at Middle Park High School. 

My Air Force duties included reporting on enemy Air Forces, operating satellites, building global communication networks, and teaching at the National Intelligence University in Washington DC.  I earned three college degrees during my career.  In 2004 I deployed to the Middle East for U.S. Central Command delivering maps and Imagery to combat forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Uzbekistan, and the United Arab Emirates.  I retired from the Military in 2015.  I maintain the military core values of Integrity First and Service Before Self.

I ran for County Commissioner in 2016, and was blessed to be chosen to represent the people of Grand County.  

What duties do you feel are most important in a commissioner’s role?  

The most important duties are #1 earn and keep the public’s trust, #2 become an expert in public policy, and #3 use our Commissioner position to lobby State government to help Grand County.  

To earn the public’s trust I am transparent and welcome public input, I include my personal cell phone and email on my postcards and they are (970) 531-8812 and richcimino@gmail.com.  I explain all my votes.  I listen.  I analyse.  I evaluate.  I forecast the public policy outcomes.  I am willing to change positions if the data support that.  To become an expert in public policy, I earned one Bachelor’s Degree and 2 Master’s Degrees and I was admitted into the PhD Program for Public Policy at George Mason University.  While an unexpected Air Force assignment prevented me from finishing my PhD, I dove deep into Public Policy and I am prepared to understand the complex woven fabric of our society.  I have used my Commissioner position at the state level to SIGNIFICANTLY lower health insurance costs in Grand County on the individual marketplace, as well as impacting legislation regarding short term rentals both for increased powers to control their effects, and protecting this economically vital component to Grand County tourism.   

What should the county commissioners be focusing on right now?  

The Grand County Quality of Life!  It includes many facets including water quality and quantity, affordable housing, intense focus on County Roads, first responders, improved internet, STRs, and property taxes.  In Colorado, county government has many responsibilities.  Counties are an arm of the state administering public health, human services, law enforcement and judicial services, water law and many many other things.  A singular focus is not a luxury County commissioners or our County employees have.  There is always a wide breadth of mission areas and statutory responsibilities that we are responsible for.  But in the end, it all comes down to quality of life and I will preserve our quality of life while we grow our population and economy.    

Prioritize each of the following topics and explain your reasoning: Transportation, Attainable Housing, Economic Development, Growth and Infrastructure. 

  1. Growth and Infrastructure: Grand County has now been fully discovered, and while growth is inevitable, we can control it and drive growth towards our towns and invest in infrastructure like Red Dirt Hill and the Fraser Valley Parkway to help improve safety and reduce traffic backups.  Infrastructure includes internet access, speed, and reliability.  We should welcome distance workers.  A variety of professionals, engineers, artists, and builders will be the future of the Grand County workforce.
  2. Transportation: The four unavoidable big costs of living in Grand County are: 1. Housing, 2. Health Care, 3. Transportation, and 4. Quality of Life: including food, child care, entertainment, recreation, religion, charity, etc.  Transportation is a major factor.  Public Transportation with a public bus system might be the key to affordable living in Grand County. Every quality of life cost is related, so maybe with your savings on health insurance you can now afford the payments for a good 4×4 vehicle with snow tires.  A regional housing authority willing to ask the voters for approval for revenue for affordable housing projects could improve the housing stock in Grand County.  Transportation, like infrastructure, like health care, is a key component to overall Quality of Life in Grand County and I have increased funding for transportation since 2018.  We provided County land to the Winter Park bus system for their new bus barn.  we subsidized a portion of the first year of the new Winter Park to Granby line.  We did all this without raising taxes.
  3. Attainable Housing: Grand County has reached a stage in growth where government subsidized and enforced affordable housing projects are absolutely necessary.  A regional housing authority in cooperation with all Grand County incorporated towns is the best way to increase the amount of affordable housing in a sustainable way that meets the needs of the East and West ends of our county.
  4. Economic Development: I prioritize this last not because it is not important, it is, but because economic growth is occurring just fine with out government interference.  Government help could be focused on efforts to diversify our economy.  Tourism is great and we will always be a tourism County, but diversification will make Grand County more resilient and more business friendly.  The key is to welcome professionals who can work virtually.  Improved internet is what we need.  I fought for two years to put a question to the voters if they will allow County funds to be used to improve internet speed and reliability.  The voters overwhelmingly said YES. I will work for the next four years to help diversify our already growing economy!

What would you like Grand County to look like in 20 Years and what steps will you take to realize this vision?  

Grand County in the year 2040 will have a workforce with a majority of virtual workers.  Tourism will still be strong, but there will be a higher ratio of locals to tourists on the slopes, rivers and trails than there are today, because our full time population will grow.  We will be energy neutral with a hydro power plant on Wolford Reservoir and lots of solar energy.  We will be low light, making us the stargazing capital of the world.  We will have regular airline flights and train stops.  I will invest in the infrastructure and professional ecosystem and water resources of Grand County.  Fast reliable internet will be ubiquitous.  I am already helping to build an ecosystem of diversified professionals through Grand Innovators.  I am investing in infrastructure to supply the backbone our future will be built upon.  I realize no one person or county government or business or any town can lead this alone, we need to all work together.  I will continue to reach out and cooperate build relationships that can contribute to making this happen.              

Why do you feel you are the best choice for county commissioner? 

I have helped the BOCC improve County Roads, increase funds for transportation, and lower health insurance costs.  The response to COVID-19 has been community wide, and I am thankful to Public Health, the towns and fire districts and all who helped with the IMT.  The County invested $130,000 through the Grand Foundation for business relief and PPE supplies.  We provided county land for a solar energy project in cooperation with Mountain Parks Electric.  I will continue working on health care, roads, internet, transportation and affordable housing.  I will constantly improve our water quality and quantity. I would like to take steps on becoming energy neutral.  I have built relationships locally and across the state legislature and the governor’s cabinet.  Simply put, I understand local government and I will keep improving public policy for Grand County.  

James Newberry – District 1 County Commissioner

I have been involved in the community since I came here in 1980, coaching and officiating in the recreation league all the way to the high school level. I was elected to the FVMRD Board and during my tenure the Sports Complex was constructed and nine holes of golf were added to Pole Creek without a tax increase.

I was first elected to the Board of Commissioners in 1996, within six years the county was debt free. During my service we built a new maintenance shop in Fraser, upgraded the jail, constructed the Judicial Center and remodeled the Administration Building, upgraded the rodeo grounds in Granby and Kremmling, made major improvements to both airports, established a full time Veterans Service Office, expanded EMS to a high professional level, and supported the Sheriff’s Department, Search and Rescue and first responders all with no tax increase. I will again bring this same concern for the tax dollar to the budget. In addition, I was heavily involved in obtaining a permanent conservation easement on the land between Tabernash and Fraser.

What duties do you feel are most important in a commissioner’s role? 

Managing resources to provide the health, safety, and welfare to the people of Grand County.

What should the county commissioners be focusing on right now? 

Dealing with the issues created by COVID-19. Protecting citizens, employees, and guests while getting businesses back up to speed.  The budget has obviously been impacted by COVID-19. Conservative budgeting will be a key in being able to provide county services for the next few years.

Prioritize each of the following topics and explain your reasoning: Transportation, Attainable Housing, Economic Development, Growth and Infrastructure.

All of these topics are intertwined with a common factor, employee shortage. If we want people to live and work in Grand County, it is imperative that the County work together with the towns, special districts, Chamber of Commerces, and regional resources like Northwest Colorado Council of Governments.

What would you like Grand County to look like in 20 Years and what steps will you take to realize this vision?  

It is my hope that the county will resemble what has been laid out in the Grand County Master Plan.  Development would be in growth areas which in turn would allow us to preserve open space and view corridors throughout the county.

Why do you feel you are the best choice for county commissioner?

Experience and the ability to bring people together to do what is best for Grand County.

Travis Wildeboer – District 1 County Commissioner

My name is Travis Wildeboer. My wife Alyssa and I moved to Grand County from Iowa 2 weeks after we got married in 2003. Our first years were spent gaining experience by working in every industry possible. From teaching snowboard lessons, driving the airport shuttle, tuning skis, to working in the local restaurants, we did it all. In 2005, we contended first-hand with the challenge of finding affordable property in Grand County. With fervent willpower and a strong desire to establish roots, we purchased a vacant lot in Winter Park and built our own home from the ground up. We eventually started our own small businesses, with myself building homes and Alyssa operating a small cleaning business.   

With a higher calling to public service, in 2013 I went through the EMT program offered by Grand County EMS and have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working for and serving the county full-time for the past 7 years. Since then, our family has doubled in size with the arrival of our 2 children, Topher in 2015 and Tilly in 2017.  

I enjoy skiing/snowboarding in the winter and competing in ultra-distance races in the summer. I find the greatest satisfaction in pushing myself through challenging circumstances, such as my time through-hiking the Appalachian Trail, climbing all of Colorado’s 14ers, and competing in organized long distance foot and mountain bike races. Mostly I enjoy spending time with my family and friends who are ultimately the real reason I call this place home.        

What duties do you feel are most important in a commissioner’s role?

As the lead policy makers in our county our commissioners must have a complete understanding of all our local issues. From water rights to attainable housing, no voice can be left unheard. They are only able to do this if they genuinely listen to members from across our diverse communities. When this is done successfully, we as a county move forward with a clear vision. Through ensuring we follow a balanced budget, and transparency at all levels of government; the county commissioners can help the county realize our highest aspirations and chart a steady course for the future. 

What should the county commissioners be focusing on right now?

In the midst of this pandemic, our immediate focus needs to remain on keeping our community safe, our economy open and our businesses thriving. How we respond to the pandemic will affect the opportunities we have as a county going forward. We must do this by empowering our Public Health department and supporting or local businesses.

Prioritize each of the following topics and explain your reasoning: Transportation, Attainable Housing, Economic Development, Growth and Infrastructure.  

Attainable Housing- Because the success of our local business is increasingly being limited by lack of local workers. Economic Development- Local business are what allow our community to sustain itself. Without them there would be no Grand County.  Growth and Infrastructure- Prioritizing attainable housing, and economic development, helps us understand our infrastructure needs and plan for the future. Transportation- As a rural community our transportation needs and are ultimately driven by our approach to addressing the previous topics . 

What would you like Grand County to look like in 20 Years and what steps will you take to realize this vision?

Twenty years from now I envision a strong local work force enabled by countywide approach to attainable housing. I imagine our local business thriving from The County, towns, and chambers all focusing on economic development. Our trails, lakes and rivers are better protected, stemming from the stewardship our community has invested in. Lastly, I see my children having the same opportunity to call Grand County home that my wife Alyssa and I have had.

Why do you feel you are the best choice for county commissioner?

My success in life has always been a result of my unmatched work ethic. From being the 13th person in history to finish the 100-mile Barkley Marathons, to hand building my home in the midst of raising two babies all while working full time at Grand County EMS; it has been hard work and determination that allowed me to reach my goals. As your commissioner I will bring that same drive and determination to serving you and helping Grand County build a strong future.

I am running for District 1 County Commissioner so that I can help ensure that my children have the same opportunities to build healthy, productive lives here that my wife and I have had.  

I am running as an unaffiliated candidate because my interests are in doing what is best for our community. I take pride in seeking out diverse viewpoints and educating myself on issues before making decisions. As your commissioner, I will be committed to addressing your concerns and will remain focused on the needs of our county. We need to invest in sustainable economic growth, preserving Grand County’s natural resources, and most importantly our people. It is critical that we attract and retain the brightest Teachers, First Responders, and Civil Servants while supporting and empowering them at the same time.  

As your commissioner I will bring an unrelenting drive and passion to leading our county. 

Shanna Ganne – District 2 County Commissioner

Many of you know me as a nonprofit leader, a community advocate, a horse woman, an artist, and a mother of two, but I would like to introduce myself as a Grand County Commissioner Candidate in District 2. As a nonprofit leader, my greatest achievement to date is working with the Grand County Historical Association to preserve our community’s wealth of history and help our organization thrive. History is the soul of a community and is a common ground under which we can all find our roots and unity.

I have lived in Grand County for 16 years, finding a job at the Winter Park Resort switchboard upon moving to the Fraser Valley. From there I moved to the nonprofit world working for Northwest Rocky Mountain CASA, a local nonprofit that advocates for the best interest of children involved in the court system due to abuse and neglect.

As a single mother living in income-based housing, I worked my way through my masters in nonprofit management, met the man of my dreams, grew our family, and bought a house. Through this journey, I experienced the real Grand County. The Grand County of working families and of having a side gig (or two). The Grand County of soccer Saturdays and Friday family ski days. The Grand County where you find community and lifelong friends.

My journey to become a candidate for commissioner began upon recognizing that Grand County is experiencing change and that it is time for the BOCC to change with it. I will bring an open mind and heart that will hear the needs of Grand County. I promise to operate with transparency and thoughtfulness. I will bring the voice of the working people to our county government.

What duties do you feel are most important in a commissioner’s role?

I feel the most important role of commissioners is to set the tone for the community as leaders, and to engage that community in proactive, productive dialogue. Commissioners should support our communities in their success and provide the support for those communities to reach success. In particular, prioritizing initiatives that support working families and the growth of a year-round economy that isn’t 100% tied to the ebbs and flows in our tourism-based economy.

What should the county commissioners be focusing on right now?

I believe commissioners should be focusing on bringing Grand County communities together to work collectively on addressing issues such as access to health and mental health care, community housing, transportation, fostering economic development, and supporting education.

Prioritize each of the following topics and explain your reasoning: Transportation, Attainable Housing, Economic Development, Growth and Infrastructure.

To me, each of these issues are connected. Not one is more important than the other. With investment in housing, affordable and attainable, we can retain quality workers. Transportation in the form of a countywide bus system, will allow workers flexibility in where they live giving access to areas of affordable housing Investment in economic development will provide support for our businesses to survive the economic effects of COVID-19 and allow room for growth and increased income. Our community is growing and changing, we may allow this growth to happen to us, or we can take the reins and choose what our future looks like. With investment in growth and infrastructure, we make informed decisions about our future. We choose what our community will look like and how it will grow.

What would you like Grand County to look like in 20 Years and what steps will you take to realize this vision?

In 20 years, I would like Grand County to have a year round economy that complements the existing tourist economy. I would like every family who wants to make Grand County their permanent home to be able to. I would like to see our public lands preserved and cared for. To make this vision a reality, we, as a community, must work collaboratively to take action now to support programs, fund initiatives, and enact policy that will make our vision a reality and protect our small-town way of life. We can no longer sit silently as change occurs in our community.

Why do you feel you are the best choice for county commissioner?

I am the best choice for Grand County as I have lived in Grand County, not on acres of land or in a million dollar home, but in income based housing working multiple jobs to make ends meet. I have worked in the nonprofit community to bring collaboration to address issues, hearing all voices. I have the personal and professional skills to facilitate productive, ethical and transparent communication and open dialogue with constituents and local agencies and governments.. I believe in transparency in and accessibility to county government.

Merrit Linke – District 2 County Commissioner

I am a Grand County native and live near the place that my Great grandfather homesteaded in 1883. Although I was gone for nearly two decades teaching, coaching, and working, I chose to come back to Grand County to raise my family, educate my kids, operate a business, and be involved in the community. I have a varied and diverse background, from being a teacher and coach for thirteen years, a 4H Leader, to being a district sales rep for the livestock feed division of a global corporation. I currently run a cattle and hay operation. I am a husband and father of three; all MPHS and University graduates. I am a Grandfather to one and an uncle to twelve.

What duties do you feel are most important in a commissioner’s role?

Ultimately, at a high level, commissioners are responsible for only two things; land use and the stewardship of taxpayer money.  The details are where the work comes in. What conditions must apply to a new subdivision? What do we want Grand County to look in like in the future? To what level are we taking care of our county roads? What is the highest priority for taxpayer money to be spent on? What is the balance for these priorities?  How can we effectively use citizen input for help in making these decisions?

What should the county commissioners be focusing on right now?

The commissioners deal with a myriad of tasks every day. Those include; fielding and addressing complaints about blight, potholes or dusty roads just to name a few.  At a purely literal level, today and within the next couple of weeks, we are in budget season. We hear from all the departments, and with the collaboration of the county manager, ask for adjustments, explanations or support as is.  This is really the most important function of a county commissioner in that it is the process where our goals and our mission are backed up by funding-putting our money where our mouth is.

Prioritize each of the following topics and explain your reasoning: Transportation, Attainable Housing, Economic Development, Growth and Infrastructure.

Everything is connected to everything.  This is a mantra I learned and adopted over 25 years ago and I’ve preached it to every class I taught or anyone else that would listen.  It’s come full circle as the topics listed are all interconnected and interdependent. Fixing one doesn’t work, all must be addressed holistically or we just create problems somewhere else. A booming economy is great; sales are up, tax revenues are rising, but our infrastructure doesn’t always handle it. Bumper to bumper traffic on two lane state highways is not most people’s idea of a great quality of life. The current seller’s market is great but it’s not really helping the attainable workforce housing problem. This all needs to be looked at holistically. There is always a balance, always tradeoffs, when we make decisions on these issues. Keeping all that in mind and not to dodge the question, I believe that Transportation is the number one issue in terms of what county government can and should do. We have to have roads that are safe and accessible. In addition, I support where practical, mass transportation such as the Lift. It moves people from “a” to “b” and in a lot of cases, can reduce congestion.  Number two is economic development, but I can argue that all of these issues are economic drivers. Attainable workforce housing=good workers=successful businesses. Steady growth=good paying jobs=economic development=money for roads and housing.  Addressing these is a combination of things that involves community collaboration, partnerships and creative solutions. 

What would you like Grand County to look like in 20 Years and what steps will you take to realize this vision?

We know growth is coming.  What it looks like and managing it is the hard part. I’ve said many times that we’re two hours away from 5 million people. It’s easy to get here, it’s easy to commute, shop, or fly all over the world from here. The answer to that question is twofold. First, it’s critical that we hear from our residents about what they want Grand County to look like; what is important in terms of quality of life, raising our families, having opportunities for success, and safety of our citizens. We have 8 zip codes and 6 incorporated towns in Grand County. Each of these places and towns has a diverse and unique character that I believe is important to recognize and preserve. Secondly, I would do everything in my power to support a steady, sustainable, diverse economy that provides opportunities for success for businesses and the hardworking people that own them, run them and work in them.

Why do you feel you are the best choice for county commissioner?

While I’m no fan of career politicians, I do feel that there is value to experience in leadership positions. This experience consists of connections, knowledge of how the process works and how to get things done.  I have that experience and background to make holistic, objective decisions that are fiscally responsible, sustainable, and based on community input and needs.

I have a diverse, professional background, have served for nearly 8 years, have a record of finding solutions, listening, and being an objective voice of reason. 

Thank you for your support and I’m asking for your vote. Thank you, Winter Park Times, for providing this special Candidates section.

Frank DeLay – County Treasurer

My wife, Kristie, and I have called Grand County home since 2003 when I helped start Grand Mountain Bank.  We have 2 boys who have grown up in Grand County. Will attends Midland University in Fremont, Nebraska and Ethan attends Middle Park High School.  My career background is banking related with over 34 years of experience. Upon graduation from CU-Boulder with a finance degree, I worked for the US Department of Treasury as a bank examiner. I then moved to Salida, Colorado as the Chief Financial Officer for a community bank prior to serving as President of Grand Mountain Bank. After the sale of Grand Mountain Bank earlier this year, I left banking and am now working with Kristie in her real estate brokerage, NextHome Choice. I also currently serve on the non-profit boards for the Colorado Headwaters Land Trust, Middle Park Medical Foundation and Moffat Road Railroad Museum Association. I enjoy the recreational opportunities that Grand County provides including skiing, running, biking and hockey.

I am the best choice to be Grand County Treasurer because the skills and experience I bring to the job from day one will continue to build on the efficiency of this office for Grand County citizens. The Treasurer position is known as the “County’s Banker.” While my background fits this part of the position, that isn’t the whole story.  The Treasurer invests the County’s funds and currently the income on those investments is 40% less than it was last year. With my banking background, I will bring a focus on improving investment income with an emphasis on safety, liquidity, and yield. The Treasurer interacts with the other elected officials and department heads. I will bring an unbiased approach to collaborate with these individuals for the betterment of the County. I also want to ensure that there is transparency from the Treasurer’s office in its operations and for everyone that it serves.  



Teri Tanton – County Treasurer

I grew up in Lakewood, CO and moved to West Palm Beach, FL for a few years where I married my soulmate and both my children were born.  In 1996 when my youngest was 2 months old my husband and I decided to move back home to Colorado to raise our children and picked Grand County for its small town family values.  Both of our children attended the Kremmling Preschool where I also sat on the Preschool board as their Treasurer. Both kids are graduates of the West Grand School district. 

I have sat on many boards during my time here in Grand County including: The West Grand School Board for 8 years, The West Grand Community Education Foundation for 6 years and was chair to the board 2 of those years.  I have also volunteered on many school related committees such as the DAC and PTA.  I was the Treasurer for the Kremmling Cattle Kings Hockey League for 12 years as well. 

When I first came to Kremmling, I worked for Rocky Mountain Realty Surveys as the office manager.  I was responsible for all aspects of accounts payable, accounts receivable and payroll.

I have worked for Grand County for the past 18 years and 15 of those as the Deputy Treasurer and Chief Deputy Public Trustee. I have worked with all aspects of the Treasurer’s office and have a solid base and knowledge of all the statutes we are required to follow.  

Why am I Running for Grand County Treasurer? The Treasurer’s office is a very specialized office and is highly mandated by state statutes. It takes years to learn the complexity of the state statutes, and I have spent years learning them. There is not a lot of “wiggle room” on how we apply the laws that direct our office. In short it is not a political office.

I have a lot of pride in how the Treasurer’s office has run efficiently and honestly over the years I have worked here.  Since the retirement of Christina Whitmer, I have been the appointed Treasurer and feel that it has been a very smooth transition.  My goal is to maintain the high integrity our office runs on, to keep up on the automation we have implemented and to provide a high level of customer service to the citizens of Grand County.