Meet county commissioner candidates: Candelaria, Lambert, Utrup

All three candidates in the Montezuma County commissioners race have offered their individual insights on how to tackle multiple issues.

Including federal service roads and public lands, the Dolores River Valley plan, budgetary concerns and mitigating natural disasters, to name a few, The Cortez Journal sent a 15-question survey to each candidate. Question 11 asked what ideas each had to create or attract more jobs to the county.

Republican candidate Jim Candelaria, who garnered the Republican nod from county delegates, said he'd work to promote the county in order to create jobs.

“We have to be proactive in getting out information to all, so they can see the gem that exists here,” said the 53-year-old general contractor and business owner.

Candelaria added that he'd also focus on ways to assist new business owners with the process of launching their own enterprise, and he'd reach out to the county's top tax contributor, Kinder Morgan, to determine additional support the company might need, such as workforce training.

James Lambert, who petitioned onto the GOP primary ballot, said his plan for local job growth depends on a strong partnership between the city of Cortez and the county. He added thar the county's rural setting could be better utilized to attract businesses with the right imagination.

“Transportation of goods is one of the biggest stumbling blocks that I see,” said Lambert. “I would suggest that the commission sit down with the trucking interests in our area and see what kind of manufacturing could best be accommodated by our current transportation system and then seek that kind of business.”

Lambert, a retiree, didn't list his age on the questionnaire.

Unaffiliated candidate Bill Utrup said his job plan included working with outside agencies to better understand which businesses would most benefit the area.

“I'd work with the different manipulable (sic) organizations to facilitate job growth that is sustainable and productive for the county,” said the 65-year-old realtor.

Asked to list their top priorities, Utrup said finances should be the county's greatest concern.

“There is a time to spend, to save and to balance the budget,” Utrup said. “I would be working to brainstorm how we can start saving money in areas within the county's management system.”

Lambert responded that his priorities would include preventing federal encroachment on county property owners and improving county roadways.

When questioned about the county's RS2477 efforts to take over U.S. Forest Service roads, he said:

“So far as I am concerned, all roads in the county not designated as U.S. or state highways already are county roads. RS2477 is a law. It should be adhered to.”

Candelaria listed the priorities of strengthening relationships that would lead to economic development, supporting tax contributors and creating infrastructure.

“As we get stronger, the entire community will prosper,” he said.

Candelaria and Lambert will face off in the Republican primary on June 24 to determine which candidate makes the ballot for the Nov. 4 general election. Utrup will only appear on the November ballot.

Donnie Tanner dropped his campaign for Montezuma County commissioner after losing the local GOP delegate election.

The three remaining candidates are seeking to fill Montezuma County Commissioner Steve Chappell's post, which expires this year.

The Journal questionnaires were sent to the candidates this month. Allotted a full week to reply, all the candidates were informed that their responses were subject to editing for length in printed versions of the Journal

The candidates were promised each questionnaire would be published online in their entirety without editing.

To view their full replies, visit