Questions for City Council

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Questions for City Council Candidates

*Answers from Pearce were never submitted

 

In your opinion, what is the biggest issue facing our community and how can the city of Grand Junction partner with local non-profits to address this issue?

 


Duke Wortmann

The biggest issue facing our Community is Youth Suicide. Yes I believe we should take the leadership role and run with it, doing everything we can to let the young adults know care and get awareness at a heightened and listening peak. Relentless Leadership should never take a day or night off. That being said we can also come together to get the needed $$ for our Schools. Before the Board stated then thought GJHS needed replacement I had been saying that for 2 weeks. Let’s not be afraid to ask if we want things, the ask has to be positioned correctly and it will be received that way.

 

Rick Taggart

The biggest issue facing our community at present is a sluggish economy. There are a great number of efforts in place, within the community, to improve our present state and the seeds of a more diversified economy are being planted. Unfortunately, at this point in time tax revenues continue to shrink while the demands on services continue to grow. Our tax revenues at the city are off 1% in the first two months of 2017 and as we all know; last year was not great.

 

I have confidence in our Economic Partners, they are working very hard on behalf of our existing businesses. The recruiting and development efforts of our partners have a great deal of energy. Similar to the city, the non-profit organizations are critical support partners to GJEP, the Chamber, the Incubator and even the Innovation Center at CMU. We all need to be on call when the leaders of these Economic Partners reach out to us for support. The requests could be as simple as being welcoming partners when perspective companies come to town for a visit or city with these clients and reviewing your services.

 

Phyllis Norris

Public Safety continues to be an issue in our community, homelessness in a big part of this issue.  We have and need to continue to partner with non profit organization to help people in this situation. We developed a plan with the help of community agencies, the plan identified what the City will implement to help with the issue and what falls to the agencies.  We need to continue to work to make the plan a reality. This won’t solve “everything” but it is a start.

 

 

Jesse Daniels

Mental and Physical health are leading in the issues facing the community in my opinion. The city can help to identify nonprofits that directly and indirectly benefit the Mental and Physical health issues of the Valley. Creating open dialogue between the City and nonprofits to hear their needs, the communities thoughts, and being aware of efforts and short falls.

Duncan McArthur

I believe the most pressing issue is determining a consistent source of funding for the 911 Call Center. The Call Center serves over 26 agencies and it is vital to public safety but the increased usage is causing the cost allocated to those agencies to exceed their ability to pay for the service. This service is vital to public safety.

 

Martin Chazen

I believe the biggest issue currently facing our community is the condition of our local economy.  A weakening economy can lead to broken homes, homelessness, domestic violence, alcohol/drug abuse, hunger and depression.  Our most vulnerable populations and children are usually the first to suffer and seek aid from non-profits.

The City has an important role to play by making sure the right policies are in place to encourage economic growth, attract investment and diversify our economy.

A properly funded police and fire department is critical.  As first-point-of-contact, our law enforcement and fire department personnel can effectively connect those in need with the right non-profit.

 

As the economy declines, the need for nonprofit services increases. How will you work with nonprofits to provide the most public benefit in hard economic times, with limited budgets?

 


Duke Wortmann

Economy & Non-Profits, tell the story, don’t candy coat it unless we need to with only the top 5% of the toughest issues. We should promote the positive also and not be afraid of some cheerleading at times.

 

Rick Taggart

This is a very difficult question and my answer relates to the first question. Services in many areas do increase with an economic downturn. I would love to say we have the funds within the city budget to support all of the needs of our non-profits, but we have to be realistic, we do not. Our foremost responsibilities are centered around public safety and infrastructure and we barely have enough money within the budget to fund these two critical areas adequately. Ballot measure 2B is an indication of our budget woes.

 

Does this mean we ignore the requests from non-profits? The answer is absolutely not. We try to be as creative as possible. We have taken money from our economic development funds to help, we waive development fees wherever possible and we try to spread grant funds as equitably as we can. I know this is not enough so doing everything we can to move the economy forward is critical.

 

Phyllis Norris

When the economy is declining it is difficult for everyone… citizens, nonprofits and the government. All have to tighten their belts and try to do more with less. Often there are grants available (even those are declining) we need to work together to take advantage of those that are available. The city does support non-profits as much as we can, however, during those times it is usually less than in a strong economy. As a city we need to do what we can to grow the economy so all will be better served.

 

Jesse Daniels

A vote for me is a vote for creative change, by way of increasing relationships between nonprofits and economic drivers! No is not an answer I accept, sometimes an issue needs fresh eyes and creativity to get it done. I’ve done this personally with my businesses in the past, my creation of Colorado West Pride NPO, and development of other entities and businesses! Funds can always be found either by way of sponsors, donors, and community efforts all of which I’m willing to exhaust for the betterment of our community!

Duncan McArthur

Funding is a challenge for so many aspects in the city and county and it is very difficult to allocate funds to nonprofits from general funds. CDBG funds are a vital source for assistance to nonprofits by the city but the budget proposed by the administration would eliminate CDBG from the federal budget. I spoke with Rep. Tipton and felt some assurance that these funds will be maintained but we must keep an eye on CDBG as the federal budget goes through the adoption process.

 

Martin Chazen

The City has a long history of effectively administering Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), a flexible program that provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs.  These funds can be used for capital improvements, program costs and there is even a provision for economic development.

 

Community messaging is also important, the City can help get the message out that the most effective way to help is through donations of time and funds to non-profits

 

 

Local non-profits benefit the community with limited budgets, what opportunities are there to increase the collaboration between Grand Junction and local non-profits, for the betterment of our community?

 

Duke Wortmann

Put the numbers out there for total payrolls and economic output you all achieve. See what that kind of Political Capital that will gain you.

 

Rick Taggart

Collaboration is vital between the local non-profits and the city and it starts with education and understanding. The more we know about a non-profit, the better we understand its mission and vision the more we can lend a hand. Lunches, coffee and events with the leadership groups of these organizations go a long way for me personally. It enables me to better understand the needs and gets my mind working creatively to see how I can help.

 

Phyllis Norris

I don’t believe there is an easy answer to this question. The Community Impact Council plays a role by working with all agencies and prioritizing the needs. Sharing those priorities with everyone will help us all focus on the most critical issues.

 

Jesse Daniels

Being visible and active in the community helps to create positive change as well as donors. If the City was to encourage nonprofits to unify their causes so that a clear message from each sector could be delivered with updates to the council, I believe a deeper impact could be made. This could also create avenues for funding that have not been realized.

Duncan McArthur

I believe the city’s role is one of a facilitator. For example, I believe that a housing first project would be a benefit to the community in dealing with a portion of the homeless issue. While the city would not be able to fund such a project, that would not be necessary as these projects are usually completed via a partnership between a nonprofit and a developer utilizing income tax credits. I had proposed the city making a parcel available north of the Orchard Mesa cemetery for such a project but I have not been able to garner enough support on the council to go forward.

 

Martin Chazen

As a member of the Vagrancy Committee, I have worked with non-profits to define the role of the City and outside partners.  By defining responsibilities and coordinating efforts, our vulnerable populations will be better served.

 

The City role is focused on police patrol and enforcement, directed assistance as necessary, camp cleanup, promotion of environmental design, park modifications, pubic messaging and a traveler aid fund.  This frees non-profits to focus on permanent supportive housing, mental health treatment, provision of necessities and detox programs.

 

All our member agencies work to build a healthy and strong community.   What is your idea of a healthy and strong community? 

 

Duke Wortmann

Healthy and Strong economy is nothing some of us can accomplish. If we could get a “plus” rating of what is being accomplished then all of us win. Standard answers such as low unemployment and vibrant construction of commercial and residential will tell its own story. My concept is that No Profits are not out of business too, bit speaking the story and living the mission.

 

Rick Taggart

A healthy and strong community has a vibrancy about it with its citizens demonstrating a great deal of pride in where they live, work and play. There is a caring attitude to do the right thing and treat one another as we want to be treated. There is a glow that resonates in all of us. There is a strong desire to give of ourselves. I know we have gone through some tough times in this valley, but this is a resourceful community and if we support one another we will get through these tough times and come out all the better.

 

Phyllis Norris

A healthy and strong community is a community that works together (citizens, non-profits and governments) to identify the most urgent issues and together coming up with solutions.

 

Jesse Daniels

A healthy strong community is one that is unified in its goals, mission, and dedication. For example prior to forming Colorado West Pride, the LGBTQ community was severely underrepresented. Since our organizing 5 years ago we’ve grown from a core of 500 attendees to 2,500 attendees and growing! The entities that exist within the community like GSA’s, CAP, and One Colorado have also made a deeper reaching effect on the community, due to being a united front. We’ve also seen growth by way of new organizations like PFLAG, MOGII, and Western Rockies Shining Star Pageant.

Duncan McArthur

That subject could cover so many things and could be personal to each of us. In the end, I think, to me, it would mean everyone is housed and has enough to eat. That children are able to get an education so they are prepared for their future.

 

Martin Chazen

A healthy community means empowering people to eat healthier foods, engage in physical activity, live in a safe environment and provide a wide range of healthy choices.

 

A strong community is accomplished by helping to build strong neighborhoods, empowering residents to become active, enhancing their leadership and improving access to neighborhood-based programs.

 

What do you see as one of the biggest social problems in Grand Junction and how would you address that/those issues in conjunction with non-profits?

 


Duke Wortmann

I addressed this in #1.

 

Rick Taggart

There are number of social problems within our community, the two that are most personal to me are the plight of homeless people and those individuals that feel so destitute that they would consider taking their own life.

 

You asked that I focus on one social issue and I how I would address this with local non-profits. For me this issue would be suicide prevention. I lost one of my best friends to suicide and to this day I question what I could have done differently, what did I miss.

 

I served for many years as a founding board member on the Suicide Coalition, today I have the incredible opportunity to work with students on a daily basis and I let them know that my door is always open to talk about anything. I have been known to reach out to students that are struggling suggesting people that can counsel them. I always want my students to know that I am in their corner.

 

We as city council members are not experts in mental health so we have to do everything we can to support the agencies that are addressing this critical issue. With city funds at a minimum we have to be creative and collaborate to find other sources of capital. Equally we have to make ourselves available to personally help and mentor whenever we can.

 

Phyllis Norris

I believe the homeless issue is the biggest we face today as I stated in #1. I also believe we have a tremendous drug issues and we need each take a roll to do what we can to correct the problem.

 

Jesse Daniels

The suicide rates for Western Colorado are staggering. Combining the efforts of nonprofits, to have healthy dialogue, work together not independently, and informing the council on how the city can participate. Whether it’s in the form of after school programs, outdoor recreation partnerships with the GJ Parks and Rec., or the development of a Community Center. I’m willing to listen to and help the community as much as I’m capable of and encourage the council to do the same.

Duncan McArthur

I find drug use to be very disturbing and I do not feel the legalization of marijuana was a benefit to our communities. I have traveled to Denver several times this year and see that homelessness is overwhelming their police and care facilities. Grand Junction, as I understand it, is the only city between Denver and Salt Lake City that provides services for the homeless. I fear legalizing retail sales here will open a floodgate for more to come here.

 

Underage use has increased. Rather than bring illegal sales to an end, they have increased. That is not even to mention the opioid crisis that the nation as a whole is facing.

 

Martin Chazen

Vagrancy is a big and chronic problem in Grand Junction.  Besides impacting the image of our community, vagrancy is connected to homelessness, substance abuse, mental health and law enforcement.

 

Using City employees (police, fire) to connect those in need with providers is critical and it is important to focus on the segment of this population that can derive a lasting benefit from services received.

 

 

Which non-profit organizations do you personally support (as a volunteer, donor, board member, etc.) and what does it mean to you personally?

 


Duke Wortmann

On the last year of 6 at Hilltop, REC support is near and dear to me. Local School issues too.

 

Rick Taggart

This is a very personal question that I am uncomfortable writing about. Like all citizens I have causes that are very important to me and my family.  We volunteer our time and donate to these causes. Our donations in particular go to education, arts and culture and efforts to protect our natural environment. I would rather not list the organizations, this is very personal issue to me and my family.

 

Phyllis Norris

I am a big supporter of Hilltop, Center for Children, Family Health West Alzheimer’s Hospital, Hope of The Grand Valley, Hope West, Goodwill, and United Way. I have served on the boards of Hilltop and St. Mary’s Hospital.

 

 

Jesse Daniels

I’m the Co-Founder and Event Director of Colorado West Pride est. 2011. I was a consultant and volunteer for GJ CAN during the formation of their 501-C-3 and creation of their ballot measure, est. 2016. A member of Black Lives Matter Grand Junction chapter est. 2016. I volunteer yearly as a Chauffeur for the Special Needs Prom. I also dedicate time to Delaney Donates, Delta Pride, and One Colorado.

Duncan McArthur

Much of my volunteer efforts have been through my church. I have participated in the volunteer effort in the Catholic Outreach soup kitchen. Also, food drives as part of the overflow program including volunteering to stay the night. I am also the city’s representative on the Homeless Coalition meetings.

 

Martin Chazen

I am a member of the Downtown Rotary (Paul Harris Fellow) and my family has donated to Salvation Army, Food Bank, Latimer House and non-profits outside Grand Junction.  I serve on the Vagrancy Committee.

 

On a personal level, it is gratifying to share some of our good fortune with organizations that efficiently target specific populations and have a record of delivering good results.