Q&A with Bill Auer, candidate for Oak Creek town trustee
Occupation: Major, U.S. Army retired; owner and operator of The Wine Rack in Ski Time Square for over 20 years until it was demolished; aquatics, sports instructor, manager and coach for over 10 years.
Prior political experience: Citizen Advisory Committee of a city of 100,000 and Trustee in Oak Creek.
Civic involvement: Enlisted infantry, OCS, training officer, company command, medivac helicopter pilot, public affairs officer including HQDA staff; FAA commercial instructor pilot license.
List your top three priorities as a town council candidate and talk about how you would go about accomplishing them.
To re-connect with the residents of Oak Creek through open discussions of our problems and re-energize our neighbors and friends to get involved.
To develop a town/community plan to address the empty portions of our business areas and develop solutions to the affordable housing problem.
To look into the changes in the coal industry and create energy alternatives for our community.
The COVID-19 outbreak has had unprecedented impact on our county. How has it impacted Oak Creek and what role do you believe the town needs to play to navigate those impacts?
The COVID-19 has taken its toll on our nation and our local environment. We need to take a leaf from our “Greatest Generation.” First, do not panic or let ourselves be frightened or cowed. This is our challenge, and we need to set an example for future generations. Stay home if not required for work, shopping or other necessities. Whenever possible, practice 6-foot spacing when in public. Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands, and try not to touch your face. Find constructive tasks, activities and
challenges, as much as possible when at home. We are Americans, and these should be “our” responsibilities that should not be dictated to us by any well meaning government.
What goals do you have in terms of economic revitalization of some of the empty commercial spaces on Main Street?
The neglected development of our downtown/business area has got to end. We need to market our town. Living in the middle of the gorgeous Rocky Mountains should be a boon. We have spend years, staff time and money on our town “national park.” Our attentions and efforts need to be spent on working to bring business and industry to our community. We have a wealth of empty building, shops and rooms/space to fill with active marketing and sales. This same energy directed to bringing business to Oak Creek would reward us with products, jobs and revenue.
Looking ahead, how is Oak Creek preparing for the changes in the coal industry, both in terms of tax revenue and jobs?
Newcomers to the Yampa Valley, are probably not aware of the changes to our coal-fired power plants. In the ’90s, there was a big campaign to clean up our air. The retrofitting of the plants in Hayden and Craig cleaned up our environment and made them two of the cleanest anywhere. Now we must prepare for more changes. The future will bring autos, personal devices, communications equipment, demanding more and more energy. Our community has so much potential in wind, solar, geothermal and hydro-generating possibilities. If tapped these would bring us jobs, a cleaner environment, lower our costs and provide independence.
How do you want to see Oak Creek change, and how do you want to see it maintain its unique small town identity?
Oak Creek will change. However, we do not have to become the housing solution as the holding area for the ski/tourist/outdoor industry. Our town has a number of neglected and unused building that could be rehabilitated. There are also many vacant and unused homes along with vacant lots that could be utilized. We need a forward-looking plan to avoid being a dumping ground for low-income workers. We need to upgrade our entire town, including businesses, residential/family and recreation remakes. We can develop Oak Creek into a prosperous and modern small town.
There are very few options for early childcare in Oak Creek, what would you do to address this?
Although my family days and worries about child care are behind me, I have considered this as a serious community need. Perhaps we could organize a small task force, mad eup with concerned parents, educators and recreation/physical activity folks to work on this issue. Why not organize and support a child care business for our entire community. This could produce jobs, organized and licensed staff, and relieve our younger families of this most stressful responsibilities, locally.
I have lives in Oak Creek since 1994. First in Willow Hills and now rebuilding/remodeling my log home on Bell Avenue. I love this town. Considering all these projects and goals, we need to get our entire community behind a new board with positive goals for our
town. This has been sorely missing the last decade. Public notices and announcements need to be posted in more than town hall and the post office. This should include at thel east our grocery store, drug store, community center and Soroco High School. Our students are our future leaders. Notices of meetings must include the issues and items to be covered. An informed public would likely generate citizen participation and enthusiasm. I moved back here where I grew up . . . a small Colorado mountain town. Leaning on my background in a warehouse/steel fabrication/sports and recreation/Army leadership and as a business owner, I believe I can contribute and intend to help improve and develop our town. Our town mayor, six trustees and administration can accomplish tremendous progress and feats with total cooperation and coordination with our neighbors and citizens.
Editor’s note: The town of Oak Creek will be holding an election Tuesday, April 7. Voters will be able to drop off their ballots from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Oak Creek Town Hall, 129 Nancy Crawford Blvd., if they haven’t already mailed them in. There are seven candidates running for four open trustee positions, and two candidates vying for mayor. Trustee candidates include Wendy Gustafson, Charli Hollingshead, Rhonda Crawford, William “Bill” Auer, Kelly McElfish, Lynda Hoskinson and Benjamin Turati. The two mayoral candidates are Bernard Gagne and Nikki Knoebel.
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