Educator and businessman square off for open Colorado Mountain College board seat
A former K-12 schools superintendent and longtime education consultant, Peg Portscheller of Battlement Mesa views her run for the open western Garfield County seat on the Colorado Mountain College Board of Trustees as a natural extension of her lifetime work.
“This is my 47th year in public education, and it has truly been an amazing opportunity,” Portscheller said of her decision to run for the six-county college district board. “Being an educator was my dream in life, and it’s my hope to keep that shining.”
For Randy Winkler, a former Rifle councilman, mayor and longtime business owner, it’s a chance to give back to a community institution that has served his and other businesses in the region and supports the area’s economy in general.
“I have been involved with CMC at many different levels over the last 15 years and have developed a great respect for the organization and learned how important they are to our communities,” Winkler said. “To me it is very important for the person representing this district to have lived here, been involved with the community and have a good understanding what the people want and need in Garfield County.”
Portscheller and Winkler square off in the only contested race for elected office that’s on the mail ballot for next Tuesday’s election. They seek the west Garfield District 3 seat that is being vacated by Mary Ellen Denomy due to term limits.
Incumbent college trustee Charles Cunniffe and former trustee Doris Dewton are also on the ballot, but are unopposed for two other seats on CMC’s governing board.
A three-year resident of Battlement Mesa and Colorado resident since 1990, Portscheller served as superintendent of schools in Lake County from 1995 to 2000 and was a school district administrator in Eagle County prior to that.
She worked in education research and development for a stint, working closely with the Colorado Department of Education. Later, she was executive director for the Colorado Association of School Executives, an organization that serves the needs of principals and superintendents.
Portscheller also spent a couple of years in higher education at Adams State in Alamosa, helping with continuing education programs for teachers and helping school districts attach college credit for teacher relicensing and training programs.
More recently, she has owned her own education consulting business, Portscheller and Associates–Pathways to Results, working with schools, districts and other education entities around the country.
“In Eagle and Lake counties I had the opportunity to partner with CMC on many things,” she said. “It’s great to have a resource like CMC in the heart of the Rocky Mountain area, and I’m a passionate believer in higher education opportunities that are both accessible and affordable.”
With changes in the workforce and automation of many types of traditional jobs, there’s a big focus in both K-12 and higher education on jobs of the future, Portscheller also observed.
Maintaining that affordability and accessibility at all of the CMC campuses, and through partnerships with outlying areas such as Salida and Buena Vista, is an important part of that, she said.
Winkler was on Rifle City Council from 2010 until this past September, serving in the mayor’s seat for the past four years.
He purchased Micro Plastics from the aunt and uncle of his wife, Jody Winkler, who had owned and operated the business since 1980. The company now has locations in Rifle and Glenwood Springs and two additional partners, Dwight and Shermette Esgar.
“I learned that the CMC seat for western Garfield County needed to be filled because of term limits of the previous member, so I wondered who was going to fill it,” Winkler said of his initial interest in the seat. He believes his longstanding involvement in the community gives him a unique perspective.
“I believe CMC has one of the best college presidents in Carrie Hauser and the best staff in the country,” Winkler added. “I want to be part of a group that gives them the tools and support they need to continue this success and be even better in the future.”
Winkler also noted that each CMC campus has its own personality.
“It is important to keep an open mind and be flexible with each location,” he said. “The most important word to any successful board is teamwork.
“This doesn’t mean always agreeing, but respectfully disagreeing,” Winkler added. “There will be many challenges in the future for CMC that will take many minds to solve.”
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