Former Grand Junction City Councilman and Mayor Bill Pitts died this week.
Bill Pitts was a successful inventor and a non-stop, die-hard booster of our town. As a long-time private pilot, he started trying to draw the public’s attention to the corruption occurring on Grand Junction Regional Airport Board years before the FBI raided it for fraud allegations in November, 2013. He invented the magnetic plastic covers people put over their swamp cooler ceiling vents in the wintertime to keep drafts out. He started the Security Alarm Company, and a camp ground and RV park at 22 and H Roads. He started Dinosaur Days. He had a relentlessly positive view of Grand Junction, put in hundreds of hours of his own time to promote it and gave up several big job offers and promotions and sizable salary increases to be able to live here full time. Pitts left a huge legacy of accomplishments for which his family can be very proud.
But despite all his good deeds and positive accomplishments, Bill Pitts also suffered from the very worst treatment that Grand Junction’s dominant local leadership could dish out.
Stabbed in the Back by the Chamber
The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce turned on Bill Pitts, their long-time member, when they put Rick Brainard up as a candidate against him in the April, 2013 City Council election. The chamber, through its secret money group the Western Colorado Business Alliance, poured over $10,000 into getting Brainard elected over Pitts. If you put the track records of the two candidates side by side, anyone could see that Bill Pitts, with his past experience, accomplishments and history, was the stand-out candidate who was far better for Grand Junction. But people listened to the chamber and elected Brainard over Pitts. Brainard’s arrest for assault four days after his election just added an exclamation mark to the horrible choice the chamber made in selecting and backing him as a candidate. The incident demonstrates yet again why the chamber is so very bad for Grand Junction. Pitts confided that he believed that prominent Grand Junction businessman, Doug Simons, owner of Enstrom Candies, who sat on the Grand Junction Regional Airport Board, was the driving force behind the GOP and Chamber’s effort to oust him from Council, believing it was done in retaliation for trying to draw attention to the fraud Pitts suspected was occurring at the Airport.
After being a die-hard booster and dues-paying member of the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce and the Mesa County Republican Party for over 44 years, at the May 1, 2013 City Council meeting Bill Pitts announced that he was withdrawing his memberships from both organizations.
Read the full story of how these groups stabbed him in the back, and why Pitts fled the chamber and the Mesa County GOP here.