Key Issues

Finding Practical Solutions for Today

Ryan Gordon will find a way to bring together the diverse groups in Garfield County to work collaboratively towards solving our issues.

It won’t be easy, but we can do it.

Affordable Housing

“I want people to be able to buy or rent a home that they can afford, located near their place of work. I want people to spend less time commuting and more time with their families.”

 

 

Expanding the inventory of affordable, owner-occupied housing across Garfield County is our No. 1 issue.

 

The Garfield County Commissioners must step up as leaders on this top-priority need.

 

Funding is essential to tackle this problem, but creative ideas are equally important.

 

We must do more than just requiring developers to allocate a small fraction of units at below-market rates.

 

I support:

 

Participating in talks with neighboring counties to find large-scale solutions. Our shortage of affordable housing is a regional problem that begs for a regional solution. We can’t and shouldn’t solve this problem on our own.

 

Bringing a community land trust to Garfield County. These trusts can build new homes and acquire existing homes, re-sell to median-income households, and make sure the homes remain affordable in perpetuity.

 

Close collaboration with affordable housing organizations. For example, Habitat for Humanity of the Roaring Fork offers an excellent model for building affordable, energy-efficient new homes for median-income buyers.

 

Helping mobile home park tenants purchase their parks. County staff could help residents get organized, understand the costs and responsibilities of ownership, and seek financing.

 

Finding additional ways to develop housing based on actual costs for labor and materials — without the profit margin.

 

 

FEEDBACK: Are there other issues related to affordable housing that concern you? Please let me know what is on your mind so I can learn more.

Public Health

“There’s no place for politics when it comes to our health.”

 

The health of our residents is essential in supporting economic vitality, engaged communities and overall quality of life.

 

The work of Garfield Public Health spans a broad range of needed services not offered by clinics and hospitals.

 

As a Garfield County Commissioner, I will champion the work of this vital county department and seek evidence-based policies to advance public health.

 

I support:

 

Adding medical professionals to the County Board of Health. Board decisions should be informed by objective medical and scientific advice from practicing professionals.

 

Rebuilding public trust in Mind Springs Health. Garfield County needs a comprehensive care provider for mental health, mental illness, substance abuse and related challenges.

 

Fighting fentanyl on all fronts. This dangerous drug is ruining lives and families. We need strong public education, broad coordination among law enforcement agencies, and expanded availability of Narcan/naloxone fentanyl antidotes.

 

Consistent, focused efforts to contain Covid. Public education and vaccine clinics must continue as we transition from a pandemic disease to an endemic virus.

 

“My family had Covid this year. Because we were vaccinated, we got nowhere near as sick as we might have without the vaccine.”

 

FEEDBACK: Are there other issues related to public health that concern you? Please let me know what is on your mind so I can learn more.

Food Security

“When we invest in food for our kids, they will learn at a higher rate and ultimately be better human beings.”

 

Hunger and poor nutrition are unacceptable in our modern society, yet it’s a daily risk for many families and seniors.

 

For decades, Garfield County has shared its resources to fight hunger and boost nutrition through a variety of effective food programs. Count on me to continue this long-standing commitment to helping our neighbors.

 

I support:

 

Funding for Meals on Wheels and Senior Nutrition Program meal services. Offered from Parachute to Carbondale, these are vital resources for seniors and disabled residents, and wonderful opportunities for volunteers.

 

Funding to assist school districts in providing free meals for all students. Children can’t focus and learn when they are hungry. Separating kids by their family economic status is unfair.

 

Funding and in-kind support for Food Bank of the Rockies as a regional supplier and Lift-Up as our county-based distributor. These organizations make sure families, couples and singles of all ages have access to food in times of need.

 

FEEDBACK: Are there other issues related to food security that concern you? Please let me know what is on your mind so I can learn more.

Latino Equity

“By providing information in languages that everyone can understand, we create a more intertwined community where people feel free to engage with the government and their leaders.”

 

Latinos make up more than one-quarter of our population. They are essential members of our workforce and boost the economic health of our county and region.

 

We must engage and involve the Latino community — children, students, workers, volunteers and elders — in the life of our communities.

 

Garfield County has been slow to listen to the concerns of Latinos, and to open doors for their full participation in government.

 

As a Garfield County Commissioner, I will listen to Latinos, advocate for their voices to be heard, and seek ways to recruit bilingual staffers for all public-facing county departments.

 

I support:

 

Spanish language access for county functions. Important meetings and times for “citizen comment” on the commissioners’ agenda should have a Spanish interpreter present or readily available.

 

Bilingual dispatchers for emergency services. The sheriff department’s 911 dispatch center must have a bilingual dispatcher on all shifts, 24/7.

 

Emphasizing the work of the Latino Community Committee. This group, organized in 2021, has yet to see even some of its most simple recommendations enacted. I will keep this committee working, add new members, listen to their recommendations and get busy on finding workable solutions.

 

FEEDBACK: Are there other issues related to Latino equity that concern you? Please let me know what is on your mind so I can learn more.

Child Care

“With two young daughters, my wife and I experienced the child care shortage directly. Families have to make tough choices these days between earning a living and raising a family.”

 

At its root, affordable child care is an essential part of economic development. Parents of young children need safe and affordable child care so they can participate in the workforce.

 

Garfield County has been short on child care options for many years. It’s time for our county government to invest in programs that support and grow quality child care centers and provide salary incentives for early childhood educators to work in this vital field.

 

I support:

 

Helping child care centers supplement salaries for workers. Higher pay will increase the quality of care and reduce staff turnover.

 

Provide additional subsidies for infant and toddler care. Extra staffing is required to care for very young children, so centers need support to provide this service.

 

Enhanced training in early childhood health and wellness. Paid training for staff at child care centers and for individuals who provide child care in their homes will improve the quality of care for all youngsters.

 

Facilitate a countywide working network of child care providers. Sharing information on best practices, connecting with substitute teachers and learning about financial trends are just some of the advantages of providers talking with providers.

 

FEEDBACK: Are there other issues related to child care that concern you? Please let me know what is on your mind so I can learn more.

Farms and Ranches

“My professional experience runs deep in water conservation and water infrastructure projects. I can work with irrigation districts to find realistic and pragmatic solutions. We must be efficient in our use of water in the face of drought and higher temperatures.”

 

Agriculture in Garfield County boosts our economy and our quality of life. Farms and ranches produce food and fiber, protect our land resources and open spaces, and offer families a rewarding lifestyle. Our farms and ranches help define who we are as a community.

 

Longstanding traditions, such as 4-H, the Garfield County Fair and Ag Day, and vital partnerships with our local soil conservation and irrigation districts, are essential supports for our ag community.

 

I support:

 

Regenerative agriculture practices. By using our partnerships with soil conservation districts and CSU Extension to work with farmers and ranchers in regenerative practices, we can increase productivity and protect our ag lands from erosion, depletion and weed infestations.

 

Using modern techniques to conserve irrigation water. Garfield County should actively partner with landowners and irrigation districts to expand the use of water conservation pracitices, like piping ditches, to make wise use of a precious resource.

 

Control of noxious weeds and invasive species. Helping all landowners treat their lands to reduce the spread of weeds and invasive trees makes good sense, year in and year out.

 

The Garfield County Fairgrounds and the County Fair & Rodeo. Our county facilities must be maximized to support the local and regional farm and ranch community and their many interests in farm-related events, competitions and shows.

 

 

FEEDBACK: Are there other issues related to agriculture that concern you? Please let me know what is on your mind so I can learn more.

Water

“In the West, water is everything. We must be responsible caretakers of water as it moves through our hands and across our lands.”

 

Water quality — clean, fresh water — and water quantity — enough water to meet our needs and maintain healthy rivers and wetlands — are two sides of the same coin.

 

Careful stewardship of both water quality and quantity is essential to protecting our way of life.

 

I support:

 

Protection of wetland and riparian (river corridor) areas. These biologically rich areas near water serve as active filters to keep our streams and rivers clean. I will work with farmers, ranchers and large-acreage landowners to preserve and expand wetlands.

 

Joining regenerative agriculture with efficient irrigation for sustainable water use. Innovative practices are working today to make the best use of irrigation water and to generate healthy return flows to our streams and rivers.

 

Protecting our Western Slope water. The Front Range is proposing new trans-mountain water diversion projects. Garfield County must collaborate with our Western Slope neighbors to oppose new diversions.

 

Purchasing the Shoshone power plant and its critical water right. Again, in collaboration with other Western Slope water organizations, it’s time to press Xcel Energy to sell the plant and its water right. We must ensure that those flows remain in the Colorado River.

 

 

FEEDBACK: Are there other issues related to water that concern you? Please let me know what is on your mind so I can learn more.

Clean Air

“Garfield County is spending tons of money on lawsuits to fight oil and gas regulation. Why not work with our operators to mitigate methane leaks and meet current regulations, as opposed to fighting them?”

 

Air quality is essential to our health and our climate.

 

Air pollution emissions come from across our county and from most sectors of our economy: cars and trucks, gas wells and pipelines, homes and buildings and landfills.

 

Garfield County should continue monitoring air quality and the air pollution that endangers public health, and be a leader in advocating for better practices in all sectors.

 

I support:

 

Continued efforts to reduce vehicle emissions. Compressed natural gas (CNG) still makes sense for RFTA buses, and more charging stations are needed for the coming growth in electric vehicles. We should consider electric buses and electric vehicles for county and government fleet vehicles.

 

Strong measures to seal up methane leaks. There’s a strong economic argument for capturing methane by monitoring leakage and repairing leaks. It’s far better for the air and for company profits to repair leaks and deliver natural gas to the customer.

 

Ending Garfield County’s lawsuit opposing Senate Bill 181. I don’t think a one-size-fits-all policy works, and different policies are needed for rural areas. However, the goals in SB 181 seem sensible and should be given a chance to work.

 

FEEDBACK: Are there other issues related to clean air that concern you? Please let me know what is on your mind so I can learn more.

Public Lands

“There is an intrinsic value in open space and land preservation. Wildness and places where you can get away from people are valuable to all of us.”

 

 

The interaction between federal public lands and local communities will always be a top-of-mind issue for Garfield County. Public lands surround our communities, and serve as a primary reason why many of us choose to live here.

 

In 2022, key public lands issues are development of Sweetwater Lake, protection of Thompson Divide, opposition to the limestone mine expansion near Glenwood Springs, forest health, and the nationwide “30 x 30” proposal for open lands.

 

I support:

 

Taking time to craft an appropriate plan for Sweetwater Lake. Preservation of the lake as open space and protecting it from private development that could be damaging or exclusive, is a positive step.

Two issues are at play here: how best to develop a new state park, and the ripple effects a park will bring to the Sweetwater residential community. We need to work with the local community, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Forest Service to absolutely make sure the historic character of the area is maintained.

 

Protection of Thompson Divide for its existing uses. Dispersed recreation, grazing, wildlife habitat and hunting are the best uses for this land. A permanent solution to protect Thompson Divide is contained in the proposed CORE Act, which I fully endorse.

 

Use of county regulations to govern the limestone quarry and its proposed expansion. Continued enforcement of the quarry’s special use permit is the county’s responsibility today; use of the new 1041 mining regulations will be essential if the mine expansion plan moves forward.

 

Advocating for forest health to prevent catastrophic wildfires. Many county residences are near public lands in the wildland interface, and communities depend on forested areas as watersheds. Carefully planned and properly timed prescribed burns, combined with appropriate forest thinning, can be employed to protect our rural neighborhoods and water resources.

 

The “30 x 30” concept, along with the preservation of wilderness. “30 x 30” simply recognizes our existing public lands and open spaces as essential for balancing the natural world with the impacts of human development. Wilderness protects our most pristine wild places for future generations of people, plants and animals.

 

FEEDBACK: Are there other issues related to public lands that concern you? Please let me know what is on your mind so I can learn more.

Wildfire

“Alternate escape routes are essential when a wildfire is blowing up. Let’s figure out multiple ways of getting people out of high danger areas.”

 

Garfield County is no stranger to catastrophic wildfire. From Battlement Mesa to Glenwood Canyon, wildland fires have charred thousands of acres of open lands and burned dozens of homes in the last 30-some years.

 

As drought continues in the West and as temperatures rise during more days of the year, wildfire remains an ongoing danger.

 

Proactive leadership is needed to make sure our communities and our firefighting resources are prepared for wildfire.

 

I support:

 

We need continuous coordination between all local fire districts. Regular meetings, planning sessions and shared trainings would strengthen bonds between Garfield County’s four fire protection districts, which are the first responders to almost all wildfires.

 

Updating the Garfield County Community Wildfire Protection Plan. The plan was adopted in 2012 — 10 years ago. Much has changed in the world of wildfire, including a longer fire season, higher temperatures, continued drought, and an expanding population.

 

Countywide and regional evacuation planning. Planning to get people and livestock safely out of the path of an oncoming wildfire is essential. Public outreach is needed to make sure all residents know their primary evacuation routes and alternate escape routes.

 

Advocacy and tools for creating defensible space. Garfield County can lead annual campaigns to encourage residents, businesses and utilities to clear combustible materials and to make buildings fire-resistant.

 

Use of our two airports for firefighting activities. The Rifle Garfield County Airport is an established center for regional firefighting, and the Glenwood Springs Airport is a valuable additional aviation resource. These airports are a key piece of our firefighting infrastructure that should be protected.

 

Advocating for forest health to prevent catastrophic wildfires. Many county residences are near public lands in the wildland interface, and communities depend on forested areas as watersheds. Carefully planned and properly timed prescribed burns, combined with appropriate forest thinning, can be employed to protect our rural neighborhoods and water resources.

 

FEEDBACK: Are there other issues related to wildfire that concern you? Please let me know what is on your mind so I can learn more.

Roads, Bridges and Buildings

“I’m an engineer. My preference is to be proactive, not reactive, in maintaining and repairing county-owned infrastructure.”

 

Providing a safe network of county roads and bridges is a fundamental responsibility of county government. Garfield County also manages a landfill, plows snow and owns buildings and facilities across the county.

 

I support:

 

Prioritizing the highest-need repairs for our Road and Bridge Department. We need to be proactive in replacing aging infrastructure — particularly bridges and culverts.

 

Testing innovative materials and techniques in road maintenance. We can tap into nationwide research to use new materials and methods that make projects last longer and are better for the environment.

 

Incorporating energy efficiency and renewable energy in buildings. Let’s make sure county buildings are running at maximum efficiency, year-round, and take advantage of renovations to add solar panels and electric vehicle chargers.

 

Collaboration with CDOT on state and interstate highway issues. The I-70 ramps for both New Castle and Silt, for example, need upgrades and new ways to alleviate congestion. County leadership can help find workable solutions to these bottlenecks.

 

Safe roadway crossings for wildlife. Too many deer,elk and wildlife die along our roads and highways, and too many motorists have to deal with costly vehicle repairs from these collisions. I will work with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to warn motorists, facilitate safe crossings, and reduce conflicts between wildlife and vehicles.

 

Emphasizing waste separation, recycling and composting at the county landfill. Diverting materials for re-use and recycling is good for the planet and for our economy.

 

 

FEEDBACK: Are there other issues related to roads, bridges and buildings that concern you? Please let me know what is on your mind so I can learn more.

Climate Resilience

“With every decision we make, we must weigh how it will affect the climate in the present and the future.”

 

Our climate is changing, generally growing more hot and more dry, punctuated by storms of greater intensity, wildfires and water shortages.

 

Garfield County should provide leadership to help rural communities and neighborhoods plan for a diminished water supply, wildfire evacuation, and alternate sources for water and power.

 

I support:

 

Developing drought mitigation plans. What do we do when water becomes scarce? Each watershed has unique resources and needs, calling for in-depth evaluation and planning.

 

Helping our farmers and ranchers implement water efficiency measures. Investments in measures such as piping irrigation ditches can stretch an increasingly limited supply of water.

 

Identify cooling centers. This may become a real public health need in a hotter future. We can collaborate with school districts, Colorado Mountain College and churches to offer public cooling centers during heat wave events.

 

Continued leadership in Garfield Clean Energy. This collaborative effort among Garfield County, its six towns, Colorado Mountain College and others is an excellent resource for growing our energy efficiency and developing more renewable energy.

 

FEEDBACK: Are there other issues related to climate resilience that concern you? Please let me know what is on your mind so I can learn more.

Energy Production

“Instead of spending county tax dollars fighting oil and gas regulations, we should spend our money and efforts to expand renewable energy.”

 

Garfield County is an energy producer, with thousands of producing natural gas wells, about 20 megawatts of solar energy, and the 15 megawatt Shoshone hydropower plant in Glenwood Canyon.

 

Globally and locally, we are moving toward a decarbonized future. As natural gas production continues to decline, employment and tax revenues from that industry will also decline. To backfill that lost revenue and employment, we’ll need to encourage clean energy development and broader economic diversity.

 

I support:

 

Strong measures to seal up methane leaks. There’s a strong economic argument for capturing methane by monitoring leakage and repairing leaks. It’s far better for the air and for company profits to repair leaks and deliver natural gas to the customer.

 

Ending Garfield County’s lawsuit opposing Senate Bill 181. I don’t think a one-size-fits-all policy works, and different policies are needed for rural areas. However, the goals in SB 181 seem sensible and should be given a chance to work.

 

Investing money and efforts to expand renewable energy. Garfield County’s rural lands hold great promise for community-scale solar arrays. Options for raised banks of panels would allow solar energy to share space with livestock.

 

Open our doors to test new clean energy and storage technologies. Let’s explore opportunities with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and others to test innovative technologies such as solid state batteries, pump storage and sand storage.

 

FEEDBACK: Are there other issues related to energy production that concern you? Please let me know what is on your mind so I can learn more.

Economic Diversity

“Lack of affordable housing is the No. 1 barrier to attracting businesses and retaining qualified trained employees. It’s the logjam.”

 

Garfield County is an attractive location for business. Given our proximity to I-70 and the railroad mainline, we have ample opportunities to attract light industry, active recreation and more renewable energy.

 

To succeed at business growth, we must resolve the affordable housing problem. Our existing businesses can’t hire enough staff because of the housing shortage, and it’s difficult to attract new business for the same reason.

 

I support:

 

Practical, scalable solutions to the affordable housing shortfall. These include regional collaboration, using community land trusts, and finding ways to build and sell homes at cost.

 

Stepping up our game in renewable energy. Private lands in Garfield County could host as much as 175 megawatts of community-scale solar projects, producing clean energy and extra income for landowners.

 

Expanding outdoor recreation. A network of boat ramps, campgrounds, and hiking and biking trails that build on today’s resources will spread out usage and boost the county’s visibility as a recreation destination and provide increased access for all county residents.

 

Assistance for oil and gas industry workers as the economy transitions to clean energy. Workers are needed for related tasks, such as detecting and repairing methane leaks and cleaning up abandoned oil and gas wells, and to shift into clean energy projects.

 

 

FEEDBACK: Are there other issues related to economic diversity that concern you? Please let me know what is on your mind so I can learn more.