Editor's note:The Republican primary June 28 will decide who will face Democrat candidate Electra Johnson in the general election Nov. 8 for District 3 county commissioner. The Pioneer plans a Q/A before that election with Johnson and the Republican primary winner.
The two Republicans in the D-3 primary are Karen Cullen, who made the ballot through the petition process; and Stan VanderWerf, who was selected by delegates at the Republican county assembly in March. Neither has previous elected experience.
The election winner will replace Republican Sallie Clark, who is term-limited after serving for 12 years.
District 3 covers western El Paso County, including the Westside, Manitou Springs, Green Mountain Falls and north to the Air Force Academy and south along Highway 115 (across from Fort Carson).
The Westside Pioneer asked both candidates for basic personal information and to respond to the same three questions. The personal information pertained to age, family, years lived in their district and career outside politics. The three questions were:
1. How does your experience prepare you for being a county commissioner? (150-word limit)
2. Sallie Clark has held this seat for 12 years and is now president of the National Association of Counties (NACo). In what ways would you try to be like her/unlike her? (200-word limit)
3. Is there a specific initiative you're proposing on how to make county government more efficient/ effective, whether in providing services, protecting rights or stimulating the economy? (200-word limit)
Q/A: Stan VanderWerf, Republican primary candidate, El Paso county
commissioner, District 3
Family: Married, two children.
Time in district: Seven years, 11 total in Colorado Springs.
Type of career: 28-year military career, then five years founding and running businesses.
1. Experience. My experience, passion and principles easily make me the most qualified candidate. As a former Air Force commander and director, I served around the world, including Iraq, and ran large industrial and contracting operations. I have run large public budgets three times the size of our county budget. I am experienced in assessing/designing public safety plans to protect people from fires, floods and terrorist attacks. My industrial engineering degree and organizational leadership skills uniquely qualify me to improve public operation efficiencies. I have created several successful companies and know the challenges of running small businesses.
I am a community volunteer, graduate of the Leadership Program of the Rockies and serve on several boards. I am an expedition mountaineer with summits to more than 130 peaks in Colorado and around the world. I love our community from microbrewing to mountain biking and live our Colorado lifestyle.
2. Sallie Clark. I thank Commissioner Clark for her service. I wish her well. If elected, I will focus on issues in three broad categories.
· Improve county operations: Ordinances - remove unneeded/harmful policies/ordinances and streamline others. Vagrancy/homelessness - work with nonprofits, community partners and cities to build lasting solutions. Better service - improve organizational efficiencies so county employees can serve you better. Disasters - build more robust planning/mitigation to protect the public from fires, floods, and terrorist attacks. Fiscal restraint - the county is solvent and has not borrowed money. That will continue.
· Grow our economy and jobs: Revitalization - work to accelerate downtown revitalization in several communities. Improved infrastructure - expand I-25, repair/replace county streets and make our transportation network more efficient. Multi-industry/multi-region economic development - expand tourism, aerospace, defense, sports, start-ups and more. Quality of life - support parks/trails and improve connections between them. Vets and military bases - as a vet, I am uniquely positioned to improve county relationships/support.
· Increase openness and transparency: Citizen awareness of county operations is low. I will support town halls, evening commissioner meetings, an improved website and better access to citizen ombudsmen.
3. Specific initiative I have specific initiatives in every area. Efficient government protects rights, improves services and grows the economy. My degrees/ experience are perfect for building efficient public agencies. I will work with the county administrator to evaluate processes and eliminate steps that deliver little value. Some of my key initiatives are below.
· Providing services and stimulating the economy: replace the outdated county IT system to improve service through greater internal efficiencies; work with public agencies like the City of Colorado Springs to combine operations where possible and share costs; Use innovation to solve problems (for example, a well known single “1-800” number will improve service access); reduce waiting times for permitting and licensing; work with the community to permanently reduce vagrancy; and deliver a multi-industry growth strategy to grow wealth and jobs.
· Protecting rights: This is the primary reason for government. I swore to defend the Constitution at every military promotion and will continue to defend it. Every citizen has a right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. I support the Bill of Rights including freedom of religion, gun ownership, free association, and property rights. I will provide the leadership to ensure the county complies with constitutional principles.
(Posted 5/24/16; Politics: City/County)