Effective local leadership is critical during economic boom times, which we are enjoying now.  Growth must be managed effectively, and financial reserves bolstered in recognition of inevitable tougher times in our future.

The upcoming West Grand commissioner race, voted on by all Grand County residents, provides a stark choice between experience and the inevitable risk of introducing another political newcomer into our local leadership.  The race also raises questions concerning commitment to a political party.

Bill Thompson is a long-time Republican running on the Democratic ticket against incumbent Republican Commissioner Kris Manguso. The method used to gain a ballot spot in a party he has no prior commitment to was complex. The fact a Republican chooses to run on the Democratic ticket says much about Thompson.

After winning the Democratic primary against Commissioner Jane Tollett, I sat in on many County Commissioner meetings in preparation for my unsuccessful run in the 2016 Commissioner race.  I also sat in on several years of Commissioner’s meetings while covering the county beat for the now defunct Winter Park Manifest newspaper.

My direct observations and knowledge of the office convince me Manguso has provided an experienced, reasoned voice during her first term on the board. Her past experience as the head of the County Planning department also gives Manguso an excellent understanding of Grand County land use regulations and challenges.

Effective land use planning not only preserves the landscape quality critical to attract visitors; it is the key to maintaining the quality of life we all enjoy. Manguso is the only present board member with extensive experience in this critical realm, losing her input would gut the Board’s ability to effectively deal with difficult land use issues.

Recently, she has been pushing back hard against consideration of moving the county jail to Granby.  It is nearly impossible to understand why the county might again try to pull the rug out from under the small town serving as our county seat.

Thompson, a Kremmling rancher, has served as the West Grand Water Commissioner for nearly 40 years.  Knowledge of the enforcement of water rights is certainly important, but this is a small part of the myriad administrative roles of a County Commissioner.

The BOCC has always been well represented by a member of the ranching community.  This segment of our county economy – critically important for the preservation of basin water rights and for conservation of open spaces – can only flourish if our tourism based economy also remains vibrant.

My nearly 40-year involvement with local politics, presently as a Fraser Town Trustee, has shown our wonderful county constantly struggles to meet the challenges presented to our community because of our close proximity to the Front Range.  As our water disappears, as I have said before in this column, residents will continue to pay increased water and sewer rates because of our increasingly depleted watershed. This year’s Fraser budget sees us sharing in a $6 million upgrade (with two other sanitation districts) to the regional plant brought about because of low river flows.

Bill Thompson told the Middle Park Times in April he fully supports the Colorado River Cooperative and Windy Gap Intergovernmental Agreements.    Manguso has consistently questioned how we are presently dealing with further diversions from a nearly dry watershed. Although these agreements provide a first step toward funding basin impact solutions, visionary thinking will be needed to find monetary sources to fully mitigate damages caused by low water flows.  

Granby Commissioner and local rancher Merritt Linke continues to provide a strong voice for his segment of our community.  New Fraser Valley representative Rich Cimino appears to be coming up to speed as our representative, but his short time in the county and lack of political experience continues to present him with a difficult learning curve.

Manguso’ s in-depth understanding of both rural values and her land use planning background provide the broad-based experienced board voice we cannot afford to lose. Democrats should join Republicans to re-elect Commissioner Kris Manguso.

Miller will likely scratch the last of his hair from his shiny dome trying to figure out the complicated November ballot.  His main message for November? Vote! You can register anytime up until 7 p.m. on election day, Nov. 6. Govotecolorado.com Reach Miller at lonesomehut@lonesomehut.com