Home New mexico economy In two key Mesa County races, economy and housing among top issues

In two key Mesa County races, economy and housing among top issues


In June, Charlie Pink was asked by another Grand Junction union member to consider running as the Democratic nominee for Mesa County Commissioner in District 2. When Pink learned that Republican nominee Bobbie Daniel was running presented without opposition, he answered the call.

The last Democrat to be elected Mesa County Commissioner was Doralyn Genova, who served from the 1980s until her retirement in 2005. Genova was also the first female Democrat elected to the body.

“I’m here because democracy is not served when candidates run unopposed,” Pink, 47, said during a July 28 gathering at Edgewater Brewery in Grand Junction, an event hosted by the vice – President of the Mesa County Democratic Party, Charley Allan.

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About 60 people attended the rally, where Damon Davis, a Democrat challenging Republican Rick Taggart for the Colorado House District 55 seat, also spoke.

Charlie Pink, Democratic candidate for Mesa County Commissioner in District 2, speaks during a meet July 28, 2022 at Edgewater Brewery in Grand Junction. (Sharon Sullivan for Colorado Newsline)

Pink decided six weeks ago to run for the position currently held by Scott McInnis, whose term expires in January 2023 – meaning Pink is behind in name recognition and fundraising, but, at three months November elections, he hopes to gain ground in this mainly Republican enclave.

His opponent, Daniel, announced his candidacy over a year ago and has raised $24,000 to date. She has hosted more than 50 events over the past year, she said.

Born and raised in conservative Montrose by “staunch Republican parents”, Pink registered as a Republican at the age of 18, before eventually finding himself more aligned with Democratic Party policies, he said. . In 2008, he became a state delegate for then-candidate Barack Obama.

His experience with county government stems from his work with Mesa County inspectors as an electrician and the knowledge he says he gleaned growing up with a father who worked for Montrose County.

“The county commission is a big deal,” Pink said. “I grew up with a dad who had several departmental commissions during his career. He saw the control they have.

“My opponent was groomed by the Republican Party. It would be nice for the county to have someone like me, he said.

Bobbie Daniel, center, the Republican nominee for Mesa County Commissioner in District 2, attends U.S. Representative Lauren Boebert’s primary election watch party on June 28, 2022, at Warehouse25sixty-five Kitchen + Bar in Grand Junction. (Sharon Sullivan for Colorado Newsline)

Initially, Daniel, 42, was the only candidate, after beating Mesa County Assessor Ken Brownlee in the Mesa County Republican Assembly in May. Brownlee failed to meet the 30% threshold to add to the June Republican primary ballot.

Daniel grew up in Palisade after his family moved to the Grand Valley from the Meeker area. She often touts her working-class background as the daughter of a coal miner and hairdresser.

She said various people over the years have suggested she run for public office — particularly the county commission. Daniel is currently a stay-at-home mom of four children. If elected as commissioner, Daniel said she would focus on keeping the local economy healthy and vibrant by promoting business opportunities and keeping local taxes low.

Pink said he would focus on land, water and other local issues if elected. He is a Journeyman Electrician with Quality Electric and Controls and a North American Board Certified Energy Practitioners Certified Solar Installer.

When asked if he believes the 2020 presidential election is fair and accurate, and if Joe Biden is the duly elected president, Pink replied, “Of course I think so. And I will be upset if they take away my drop box,” he added half-jokingly.

When asked the same question in a separate interview, Daniel paused, before replying, “That’s such a tough question,” then added, “I think that was fair and accurate. and Joe Biden is our president.”

House District 55

Davis grew up in Palisade and practices law with Killian, Davis, Richter and Kraniak in Grand Junction. As a lawyer, he spent his career representing workers in Mesa County, he said.

“Therein lies my loyalty,” he said. “My career has been representing the people of Mesa County – I’ve been their advocate and I want to continue to be their advocate” as a state representative.

Damon Davis, a Democrat running for the Colorado House District 55 seat, appeared for a meet on July 28, 2022 at Edgewater Brewery in Grand Junction. (Sharon Sullivan for Colorado Newsline)

Davis, 45, said one of his priorities as a lawmaker would be to increase the supply of affordable housing in Grand Junction, where housing prices have skyrocketed. Reducing zoning roadblocks to high-density housing would be one step toward achieving that goal, he said.

Taggart, Davis’s opponent, served seven years on the Grand Junction City Council, including two as mayor. He said the city has set aside federal stimulus funds and formed a committee to address the affordable housing issue.

Taggart said he would also like to see regulations kept to a minimum to reduce the cost of building homes. The city is currently considering waiving fees for the redevelopment of the vacant former City Market store in downtown Grand Junction – although the proposed apartment complex is not affordable. However, the project is expected to benefit downtown business owners, while increasing housing in the city core, Taggart said.

“The City Market project is an economic development project – not affordable housing,” he said. “We have to do both. A development like City Market becomes an anchor (for downtown merchants). It is not at the expense of affordable housing. We need both.

As a representative, Taggart, 71, said he would seek to be a “rational voice of reason when it comes to government overreach”.

Republican Grand Junction City Councilman Rick Taggart is running for the Colorado House District 55 seat in the November 2022 election. (Courtesy Rick Taggart)

“Companies are more effective in terms of self-regulation than if the government puts regulations in place,” he said.

Davis also cited criminal justice reform as a priority if elected representative. He mentioned the possibility of adding in-house mental health professionals to detention centers to treat inmates with substance abuse or mental health conditions – which he said could help reduce recidivism rates.

Davis also raised the prospect of making college more affordable for Colorado residents. He mentioned how New Mexico offers free tuition to its residents. Colorado could do something similar, he said.

If elected, Taggart said he would step down from the city council in late December, to begin serving as state legislator in January 2023.

Although often described as a moderate Republican, Taggart stressed that he was “very conservative” when it came to fiscal policy. And, he said he can work collaboratively with lawmakers across the state.

“I am a firm believer that good legislation requires negotiation, discussion and may require compromise,” he said. “I understand that and respect that process. There are many issues on which we can find common ground.

Davis said he’ll have to win over independents and perhaps some moderate Republicans in a region that favors the GOP.

“I plan to bring in the independents,” Davis said. “Especially those who work for a living. I have a blue collar job. I have a plan for affordable housing.

Both candidates agreed unequivocally that the 2020 presidential election was fair and precise and that Biden is the duly elected president.

The House District 55 seat is currently held by Republican Janice Rich, who is running for the Senate District 7 seat.