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Editor's note: Westside Pioneer's Q/A with District 3 county commissioner candidates

       With term-limited Republican incumbent Sallie Clark stepping down as District 3 county commissioner after 12 years, Stan VanderWerf from her party hopes to succeed her in the Nov. 8 general election.
       The candidate for the Democrats is Electra Johnson.
       VanderWerf defeated Karen Cullen in the Republicans' June primary.
       Johnson was selected by her party to challenge the Republican hold on District 3, going back nearly half a century.
       Neither candidate has previous elected experience.
       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 the candidates for basic personal information and to respond to the same three questions (150-word limit for each). The personal information pertained to age, family, years lived in their districts and career outside politics.
       The three questions were:
       1. Both of you are new to elected office. Why is county commissioner the office you are seeking?
       2. Should the county allow recreational marijuana?
       3. If elected, would you propose increasing county taxes to enhance services? Explain why an increase is or isn't necessary.

County Commissioner District 3 candidate:
Stan VanderWerf

Courtesy of Stan VanderWerf
       Party: Republican
       Age: 55.
       Years in District 3: Seven.
       Type of career: Military career; since then has founded and run businesses.
       Family info: Married, two children.

       1. Why commissioner. My experience can best serve our community as county commissioner. With a background in large public budgets, disaster planning, disaster recovery, public policy development, and large organization leadership, I have the experience, principles, and passion to serve as commissioner. I also have 28 years of service in the Air Force running large and small organizations, and know the value of a well-run public agency. I have an industrial engineering degree, which specializes in improving private and public efficiencies. I have two master's degrees, one which specializes in public resourcing.
       I am interested in helping our county be the best in the nation and wish to work with our community on infrastructure improvements, multi-industry economic development, job growth and improving community services. I see a statutory role, the specific tasks of a county commissioner, and a moral role in helping us work together to solve our needs.
       2. Recreational MJ. Amendment 64, passed by our citizens, permits recreational marijuana and also allows local jurisdictions to opt out. The current El Paso commissioners voted against commercial sales within county jurisdiction, and I will continue this policy. Research shows the danger and social costs from marijuana use. Not only is marijuana harmful to people and especially children, our law enforcement community has seen an increase in related crime and gang activity. Many jobs are off limits to marijuana users, and we risk our long-term good relations with our military bases.
       I do support medical marijuana use. Unfortunately current Colorado law has been abused and our legislators need to work to reduce this problem. Those that can benefit most from medical marijuana are not the majority of users.
       3. Taxes. I believe county taxes do not need to be raised. The county has developed an innovative spirit that can be tapped further to find efficiencies. These savings can be applied against pressing needs like infrastructure investment, services access, growing our economy, improving public safety, improving resiliency to natural and manmade disasters, protecting our parks for citizen and tourist use and dealing with homelessness and vagrancy.
       While working on these issues, we must be careful to ensure county government does not grow trying to solve problems that can best be solved privately. As such, I will work with other public agencies, non-profit/for-profit companies, and community leaders to improve our community in these and other areas.
       I am optimistic we can make serious progress with the right approaches. I care deeply our community and know that, working together, we can solve or minimize many of these problems.

(Posted 9/13/16; Politics: City/County)

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