Q&A with Doug Monger, unaffiliated candidate for Routt County commissioner, District 2
Q. Why do you want to serve on the Routt County Board of Commissioners?
A. I love our county and have always felt a calling to be a public servant, utilizing my background, expertise and experience for the betterment of our great county. I’m driven to leave this county better than it was when I started as a commissioner. I feel my history, breadth of experience and understanding of Routt County have benefited our community, and I feel that my work is not yet done. I champion responsible, open and inclusive government. I welcome partnerships as no one entity can solve the issues of our changing landscapes and demographics. Partnerships with municipalities, landowners, special districts, nonprofits and civic organizations are critical as we welcome new residents, visitors, lifestyles and ideals.
Q. What do you believe are the biggest issues facing the county in the near and short term?
A. Our largest issue continues to be getting past the COVID-19 pandemic by recovering our community and bringing a healthier balance between public health while restoring our economy. We have learned a lot of lessons from the challenges of 2020, which will make Routt County much more resilient and prepared to pave a path for a brighter 2021 and beyond. As county commissioner and a lifelong rancher in Routt County, I acknowledge the virtues of personal liberty and the negative impact that government regulations can have on our community. I am a person who has always lived by the code, “do it right,” and that applies to ensuring Routt County remains a healthy and thriving community grounded in individual liberty, respect for the environment and economic freedom.
Being No. 5 in the healthiest communities in the U.S. does not happen by accident, it is due to community partnerships, community planning and foresight into what we want to have our community look like. The positive result is also evident in the rise of the senior age demographic in our community. People are choosing to move and live here because of the quality of life, the great place it is and the preservation of our proud character and traditions.
Q. How would you address these issues?
A. I will continue to strengthen all that Routt County has accomplished and has to offer while addressing our challenges in a thoughtful, responsible manner that represents the interests and concerns of our community. As a member of the Routt County Board of Health, I will work to improve the balance between public health orders and economic sustainability. In this effort, I will partner with local and state health agencies to apply risk-based public health guidance that will protect our most vulnerable citizens while allowing working families and businesses to return to a normal standard of living. I will encourage personal responsibilities based on public guidance and utilize the power of government only as a last resort to keep our community safe. In the long term, I will continue to ensure Routt County growth is managed in a way that is sustainable and reflects our heritage, values, love of the outdoors and respect for the environment. Planned growth should be thoughtful and concentrated in growth centers to better manage concentration of government services, to keep our rural lands rural and protect our public lands for the benefit of all.
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Q. The county is working with the city on a climate action plan. What is your stance on this plan and what would be your role in this area if elected?
A. I support continued climate action work and have been an advocate for responsible occupancy on this Earth. I have supported the county’s investment into renewable energy as we were one of the first to have solar on the Routt County Justice Center, and we are working proactively toward getting solar at Yampa Valley Regional Airport. We have invested in renewables including auto recharging. I do not support winners and losers in the climate discussion and am upset with the low-hanging fruit of closing the power plants while we continue to entice and expand tourism climate impacts. Coal-power built Routt County and America, and I believe Routt County has an obligation to have a realistic, achievable transition plan for a new energy alternative while keeping utility costs affordable for working families and small businesses. I will advocate for that. I also believe that our county master plan is a climate change positive in that we discourage rural sprawl and mandate responsible building techniques.
Q. The county is undergoing a major economic transition, particularly with the reduction of coal-based energy. How would you prepare the county for these future changes and diversify the local economy in response?
A. The county has been preparing for the switch of our economies for decades. I will partner with neighboring counties and state agencies for assistance in implementing a thoughtful, responsible transition plan that accounts for working families, government tax rolls and businesses that currently depend on Routt County’s energy industry. As we become more dependent on recreation and tourism, we must take advantage of new opportunities through technology and rural broadband, which will draw a more location-neutral/remote workforce. I am most proud of the county’s successes with the Yampa Valley Regional Airport, and the role it will play in transition.
Q. How would you help lead the county in its response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic?
I would work with my fellow county commissioners, local public health professionals, school districts and local business leaders to apply best science practices to address the state COVID-19 public health order. I would advance a local public health order that is risk-based, using hospitalization and mortality rates, not simple COVID-19 case counts. We need a thoughtful, reasonable and responsible COVID-19 public health order that protects our most vulnerable — those with comorbidities and the elderly — while allowing our community to return to a healthy, safe and relatively normal standard of living. Currently, our suicide rate has equaled our death rate from COVID-19. Our calls to mental health crisis lines are much greater than they were before the pandemic. Our drug and alcohol abuse is on the rise. Our restaurants and small businesses are beginning to close for good. We need to reimagine our response to COVID-19 and account for the large number who are not at risk.
Doug Monger is running for Routt County commissioner in District 2 as an unaffiliated candidate.
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