Op-ed by Kathryn Bedell, candidate for Mesa County Commissioner, District 1 – from the 4/21/20 Daily Sentinel (Please support our local paper)
As a Western Slope appointee to the State of Colorado Agriculture Commission, I continue to address issues related to our local farm economy and food security. As I was isolating at home, reaching out to fellow farms and ranchers to see what they are thinking and what kind of help they might need, it occurred to me I haven’t heard a peep from our Mesa County commissioners.
I searched for recent comments from them and only found one advocating against a national popular vote, which has absolutely nothing to do with the current state of the county. I looked on the county’s Facebook page and saw nothing from our commissioners but noticed that Mesa County Public Health is keeping the county informed. I looked at the county website and the last update was 19 days ago and that was a link to Mesa County Public Health and Human Services.
The city of Grand Junction has been having a very public discussion of how to best help the members of our community. Mesa County Public Health has been doing daily briefings, but the commissioners have not been very vocal in their support. Garfield County just approved a $500,000 transfer to a fund in public health to directly assist residents affected by the impacts of the virus, including direct grants of up to $3,000. But where are the Mesa County commissioners? Are they thinking about how to help county residents? Are they reaching out to engage the community? Where is their leadership in the stay-at-home orders? Don’t they want to encourage residents to wear face masks? Just what are they doing? And where is the leadership we need right now?
In turbulent times like this when so many community members are not working, worrying about rent and mortgage payments, health insurance, home-schooling and feeding their families, we need leaders to step forward and calm fears.
Mesa County Public Health is providing daily updates but not referring to the commissioners’ activities. Andrew Cuomo has led New York with a loud empathetic voice that has comforted the community and given direction to the solutions needed to emerge from tragedy. Dr. Fauci has spoken truths and been transparent about what the nation faces and how and we might resume business and work.
What would be nice to hear? Public support for the wearing of masks and physical distancing necessary to slow the spread. Assuring that the community has nutritious food and will continue to have food. Engage our farms and ranches and all small businesses to support them and see what help they may need. Voicing concern and support for hospitals and health-care workers. Assurance that they are working to update the budget for the reductions in revenues, asking for public input on cuts necessary to sustain essential services. Reviewing the federal programs and disseminating information to people and businesses it could help. They should be looking to the future to see what we might do to make our future more secure in the face of this type and all threats. And most importantly, are they planning for the day we release restrictions, and avoid a relapse. What about testing for the virus or for the antibodies to the virus, are they or will they be available? What are our county commissioners doing? I have no idea because we haven’t heard from them.
Kathryn Bedell is a state agricultural commissioner, veterinarian and rancher. She is running for Mesa County commissioner, District 1.
Candidate for County Commissioner, District 1 (Fruita, Loma, Mack, Glade Park and the western end of the county)
To learn more about Dr. Bedell go to KathrynForMesa.com