County commissioner announces reelection campaign with focus on climate change, energy transition
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger announced his reelection campaign on Monday.
This marks the fifth time Monger has run for office but the first time he is running as an independent, following his departure from the Democratic Party last year. He made the decision to disaffiliate in reaction to the increasingly polarized political environment, which he sees as an obstacle to progress.
Asked about how his independent affiliation might affect his policies, which range from water conservation to open space preservation, Monger emphasized that partisanship does not play a significant role in his leadership decisions.
“I work for Routt County. I don’t work for the democrats or (the republicans),” he said.
Monger is the second commissioner running for reelection, following Tim Corrigan’s announcement in February. So far, Monger is running against one opponent, democrat Tim Redmond, the mayor of Hayden.
Among Monger’s campaign promises include a commitment to implementing the county’s joint climate action plan, in collaboration with the city of Steamboat Springs, and a plan to address a changing energy industry.
Monger has served five terms on the Routt County Board of Commissioners. In that time, he has overseen significant developments in the county, from population growth to a recreation boom.
One of his proudest achievements has been improving the Yampa Valley Regional Airport, which he considers a “crown jewel” of the county. A member of the commission that oversees the airport, Monger has supported efforts to enhance its facilities and grow business to the extent that the airport is now financially self-sufficient. Airport officials are preparing for a $3.2 million terminal expansion, which will accommodate the addition of Southwest Airlines to its roster of carriers.
Airport Director Kevin Booth said Monger has taken a keen interest in the airport and has been deeply involved with improvement efforts.
“He’s a great supporter of what we do,” Booth said.
A lifelong, fourth-generation rancher, Monger has a deep understanding of local agriculture, one of the county’s foundational industries, according to Michele Meyer, executive director of the local Community Agriculture Alliance. He has worked to conserve water and open space in an effort to protect the rural integrity of Routt County and support the farmers and ranchers who depend on the area’s natural resources.
Meyer highlighted Monger’s avid involvement in various leadership groups as a testament to his commitment to addressing issues facing the area.
The commissioner currently serves on 10 boards and commissions, according to the county’s website, ranging from the Colorado River Water Conservation District and the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado.
While he wants to preserve elements of the past, Monger also wants to plan for a vastly different future in Routt County. With climate change posing an ever-greater threat to residents’ way of life, he has embraced the local climate action plan as a way to make measurable improvements in areas like waste management and emissions reduction.
But the move to cleaner energy poses concerns in a county heavily reliant on coal mines and coal-fired power plants for revenue and jobs.
“They have been paying the bill for a long time in West Routt and Moffat County,” he said of the local coal businesses and the tax revenue they generate.
With an eye to the next decade, Monger knows that the move away from coal is inevitable, and efforts should focus on transitioning the county to a cleaner energy grid. This week, he has been involved in several discussions centering on a just coal transition, joined by local and state officials as well as members of the public.
“We have some crucial things we need to do to minimize the impacts of moving away from these usually reliant industries,” he said.
On Friday, Monger plans to attend Just Transition Advisory Committee’s meeting in Hayden, which Gov. Jared Polis also is scheduled to attend.
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Did you know that the U.S. Senate passed a bill to officially make Oct. 6 Energy Efficiency Day in celebration of the economic and environmental benefits driven by energy efficiency improvements?