Dick Hodges
Candidate for
Park County Commissioner
District 2

Where I stand on the issues.

The district I live in has a concentration of residents who travel daily to the Denver area for work, and this district is growing. But that is not the end of the story because a Commissioner represents the entire county.  Other areas of the county face unique challenges as well, such as the need for improved roads, better internet communication, residential development and attracting new business.  For example, some rural are exclusively rural residential.  Residents there do not necessarily want business development.

With all this in mind, we face special challenges in planning for a future that recognizes the diversity of needs with respect to government services and infrastructure.

We are next to one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States. This means we face special problems in planning for the future in order to retain the quality of life we enjoy. Most of us have very similar reasons for living here and are concerned for what the future holds.

We cannot stop growth, but neither can we ignore its impact.  We are responsible for the future and how our County is to develop and grow.  It means that we have a great need for long range planning and for working toward a consensus on a vision for our future.  It looks like quite a challenge to me and I have always enjoyed a challenge.

ROADS

We all know that the roads in the County are the number one concern of our citizens and while there is no single, simple solution, I believe we have some valid alternatives to explore.  Most importantly, we need to be absolutely certain that all County expenditures are providing us with the most cost effective use of revenues.  It is a complex issue.  We need to evaluate the interaction between organizational structure, capital equipment issues, communication with the citizens of Park County, and the annual budget. 

  • What roadblocks does the Road and Bridge Department face that prevents them from doing their job properly or, more importantly, doing it better?

  • What is the condition of capital equipment (graders, trucks, plows, loaders, etc.) and how much money is needed to reach full efficiency through repairing or replacing essential road equipment?

  • Are there other sources of revenue (grants to the county, or revisions to budgeted allocations) that would accelerate road improvements and repairs?  

  • Does the public truly understand and endorse the current long range planning for our roads?

  • Communication:  We need to find better and more reliable avenues for citizens to provide their ideas, concerns, and complaints about our roads.

It is important to clearly communicate to our citizens not only a long range plan for our roads, but also the reasoning behind that plan.   We need to find better and more readily available avenues for citizens to provide their input, ideas, and concerns about our roads.

This issue did not pop up overnight and it is going to take more than one person to get the job done.   It is going to take a concentrated effort by many people and it needs to be one our highest priorities.  I consider it one my top priorities and I believe it is a Commissioner’s job to get the ball rolling.   

LURS

The backbone of Park County’s future lies in consistently applying the LURs. Rarely should the Commissioners make an exception to the LURs and then, only for good and sufficient business reasons. It is too easy for exceptions to become the rule, and a Commissioner should be on guard for that possibility.  The issue of land use is a major responsibility of the Commissioners and it consumes a considerable amount of their time, as it will mine, if elected.

In Park County, we have a dedicated knowledgeable regulatory staff and a dedicated Planning Commission.  Both seem to always keep the best interest of the County and its citizens foremost in their minds. Because of their support, the Commissioners have an excellent resource for guidance at their fingertips. While it is not necessary to be an expert in the LURs, it is a Commissioner’s duty to give the utmost respect and weight to the recommendations of the regulatory staff and Planning Commission.  Finally, consistency in application of the LURs seems to me to be the most important guiding principle in evaluating land use and zoning questions. 

PROPERTY RIGHTS

Property rights are a fundamental right for every citizen and these rights require the greatest level of protection.  It is important that property owners have the freedom to enjoy the right to determine the highest and best use of their property with as little constraint as possible.  At the same time, property rights must be guided by the Land Use Regulations, codes and other applicable laws.  As a Commissioner, it requires being certain that regulations are never used to deny the legitimate rights of a property owner, and that the legitimate rights of their neighbors are not harmed.  Protecting these rights shares an equal place with enforcement of codes and regulations.  For me, property rights are an inherent right of ownership and should never be regarded as a privilege.

TAXES

The voters of Park County have clearly spoken about new or increased taxes.  Tabor puts the decision for increasing, or adding, taxes squarely in the hands of the voters where it belongs.  Time after time, Conservatives find ways to remove or reduce taxes and nearly always, it improves the economy while producing more jobs.  It is up to a Commissioner to find new ways to make the budgeted revenues work.  Increased taxes or new tax schemes are not an option for solving our problems.   And that means, we will have to work smarter and more efficiently within the existing tax revenue framework.

LONG RANGE PLANNING – VISIONING FOR THE FUTURE

Park County will face ever increasing demands for change driven by growth from the outside and we must do our best to meet the challenges of the future and what that may bring.  And most importantly, we must insure that there is a favorable climate for small businesses and development where appropriate. We have much in our favor, a beautiful spacious mountain environment, almost unlimited opportunities for outdoor recreational activity, and a largely conservative population that is attractive to prospective employers.  We need to look for more and better ways for the County to become a destination for tourism rather than allowing visitors to drive to other destinations. We need to work closely with other local agencies to promote and attract new business and increased tourism.

Our current long range plan is up for review and I see this as a chance to work toward a shared vision for the future. We need to develop an even more favorable climate for small businesses, tourism and residential development that respects the natural beauty of Park County and our way of life. The planning process will require leadership that looks to the future with foresight and optimism.

A vote for Hodges is a vote for Park County