Mesa County voters will finally have intelligent candidates to choose from for Mesa County Commissioner!
Dave Edwards, Mayor Pro Tem of Palisade, Colorado will officially announce his entry into to the race for Mesa County Commissioner at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, February 29, 2016 at the Mesa County Workforce Center, 512 29 1/2 Road, Grand Junction. (See map to the Workforce Center at the bottom of this article.)
Edwards is challenging incumbent Rose Pugliese for the District 3 seat, which represents the east valley, between the Gunnison River and I-70, and includes Orchard Mesa eastward to the county line.
District 3 Incumbent Puglliese Beset with Legal Trouble
Pugliese, an attorney, is currently beset with legal problems and is facing a lawsuit in which former clients have charged her with malpractice. Mesa County District Judge David Bottger ruled in 2014 that Pugliese gave incorrect legal advice and invalidated a settlement agreement Pugliese had written for her clients. The family at the center of the case is continuing to prosecute the case in court. Pugliese is also notorious for her efforts to ban the teaching of global warming in Mesa County classrooms. She gathered signatures on a petition that she presented at a District 51 school board meeting in May, 2010, that was signed by people who dismissed global warming as “junk science.” The petition demanded the District stop teaching students about global warming. Pugliese insisted that there is “no evidence” to support global warming. Her current term as Mesa County Commissioner expires in January, 2017.
Edwards, who has a law degree from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota and is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), worked in various financial positions at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, where he was chosen as “Outstanding CPA in the Twin Cities.” He was Chief Financial Officer of Minnesota Health Plan (MHP) for eight years, where he earned notoriety for turning the organizations’ finances around in the first year and making the plan profitable each year afterwards. While at MHP, Edwards improved enrollee benefits, lowered service costs and improved internal operations while improving employee morale throughout the organization. He is a Palisade Trustee, Vice Chair of the 5-2-1 Drainage Authority and was elected to the Executive Board of the Colorado Municipal League in 2013. Edwards says he is a “socially progressive, fiscally conservative voice in Mesa County.” Dave Edwards is a man of education, intelligence, experience and rationality who is greatly concerned about the poverty and loss of jobs in Mesa County, and the lack of effort by current Mesa County Commissioners to act to benefit the local economy, make this area prosper and pull us out of our economic slump.
Another Intelligent Candidate Running in District 1: Mel Mulder
At the same time Dave Edwards will announce his candidacy for the District 3 (East Valley) seat, Mel Mulder of Fruita will announce his candidacy for County Commissioner in the District 1 seat currently held by John Justman, who is running for reelection. District 1 is the west are of the Grand Valley, starting at about 26 Road (and 5th Street in town) and running west to the Utah border. District 1 encompasses Glade Park, Fruita, Loma and Mack.
Mulder has served two, eight-year terms on Fruita City Council, eight years as a Drainage District member, six years on the 5-2-1 Sewer District Commission, assisted with the revision of Fruita’s master plan, served for six years on Fruita’s planning commission, and worked in the health care industry. He worked at the state home/Regional Center, where at one time he was falsely accused of crime, but was cleared by a jury in record time. Mulder has also worked at a water treatment plant, and was businessman and worked in the restaurant business.
District 1 Incumbent Justman Has Troubles of His Own
Mulder challenges incumbent John Justman, who got into hot water with taxpayers last year after charging Mesa County taxpayers $2,500 for a trip he took to Hawaii May 20-22, 2015, to attend a meeting about public lands. The tab included a charge of $148 just for breakfasts on the short trip.
“Public lands are such a big deal for us. That was the primary reason I wanted to go,” Justman said of the Hawaii visit. “I really wanted to go to that conference; I really wasn’t gung-ho to go because of the location.” The County was suffering substantial financial hardship at the time from falling property valuations and hence lower property tax collections.
Justman, who portrays himself a a staunch opponent of federal interference in local affairs, himself took over $195,000 in farm subsidies over a 15 year period while working as a farmer. Justman also claimed he would seek development of so-called “clean coal” as a way to bring jobs to Mesa County, but in December, 2015, the dean of the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business gave a lecture to the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce in which he pronounced that western slope coal mining is “dead.” Today’s headline in the Daily Sentinel affirms as much, with its front page headline describing the shutdown of the Bowie coal mine No. 2 in the North Fork Valley near Paonia.
So much for Justman’s vision of prosperity for Mesa County.
Mel Mulder and Dave Edwards are forward, not backwards thinkers like Justman and Pugliese have been. They will be dedicated to the best interests of Mesa County citizens, and will finally bring much-needed, fresh new ideas, thought, dedication and creativity to the Mesa County Commission.
Voters finally have a prospect of bringing intelligent life to the Mesa County Board of Commissioners!
The election will be in November.