As a County, We Must Expand our Horizons
by Bill Wenger, Republican Candidate for
San Miguel County Commissioner
Oct 16, 2008 | 383 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
GUEST COMMENTARY

Hello voters:

Who am I? My name is Bill Wenger. I am a former San Miguel County Commissioner

District 2 (Elected 1990 served through 1994). My family moved to Telluride in 1894. We have owned property in the Telluride area since 1895. Because of this property ownership I have personally spent a part of every year of my life in the Telluride area. I moved here permanently in 1985.

During my term in office, virtually all of the remaining private land of any significant development potential in the Telluride planning region came across my desk. The developments of Aldosoro, Lawson Hill, San Bernardo, Final Plat of Mountain Village, several conceptual phases of West Meadows, and an infamous fax relative to the Valley Floor showed up one after another. To deal with this flood of development pressure I voted and passed a rewrite of the Land Use Code, the passing of some of the strongest wetland protection regulations in the U.S. and pursued a very aggressive affordable housing program.

Why am I running? I believe District 3 should have a commissioner that they would choose to have if they were given the opportunity to choose their own commissioner. I believe I am that person. When you have a County such as ours where there is a definite difference in ideology and philosophy between districts, an odd district out can have people elected that don’t represent them. The result is they have no voice. San Miguel County is larger than Telluride and Down Valley. It goes all the way to Utah. These people deserve and need a voice in their government. I can provide that voice.

I also see we are on the cusp of a time of change. We have enjoyed a prosperity driven by cheap energy and resources, a high inventory of developable lots, and a bull market generating high-end disposable income. These parameters are rapidly becoming a thing of the past. The cost of commodities (steel, copper, energy) is becoming China’s domain; build-out is a designed expectation; and the stock market is quivering like a house of cards. We need to put in place a strong foundation to deal with an iceberg that could sink many a “Titanic.”

Why me? I am a very diverse person. Part of my professional background blends well with the West End. I am a Colorado School of Mines Graduate, BS Mining Engineering 1975. I worked in the mining industry until 1990. I am a licensed professional blaster having done the blasting for the Ski Area expansion as well as several ski runs. I have excavated house sites, done both structural and architectural welding and am a skilled mechanic. Although I am very skilled in the trades my greatest skills lie in management.

I was able to transition from an executive management position in Industry into local government. I represented a district that was under extreme development pressure. I demanded a place be made for the working class and that developers respect what makes this place special. I know the east end of the county issues and yet my roots are solid West End. I can talk to a rancher or miner and speak their language. I understand issues of resource management and development. It has its place. I believe in balanced environmental stewardship but not radical obstructionism.

We have experienced a wave of prosperity due to a robust construction and real estate economy with money to burn. The bulk of the County’s economy is based on an unstable foundation of extreme excesses; including excess disposable income that is going to be harder to come by. As the region builds out we need quality and far-seeing planning to transition to a sustainable future retaining jobs for our citizens. What will provide our citizens with long-term sustainability has only partially been written. We are going to need to supplement it with tourism and other opportunities for those tourists to experience in addition to skiing and looking at the mountains. We must expand our horizons.

I would appreciate your vote on Nov. 4.
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