Colorado Mesa University hosted City Council candidates for a question and answer forum Wednesday evening in the University Center ballroom. The candidates discussed CMU subsidizing, the Grand Valley Transit strike and the Red Flag bill.
The Associated Student Government and the Political Science Club co-hosted the event, which was organized by ASG Vice President Jeff Vela and catered by Sodexo. Supreme Court Justice Ta’Lor Jackson acted as one of two moderators.
Four candidates, Chuck McDaniel, Dennis Simpson, Anna Stout and Aaron Michelson introduced themselves to the audience, consisting of CMU students, faculty and community members. McDaniel and Simpson are running for the at-large seat, Stout is running unopposed for District C and Michelson is running for District B.
After introductions, Jackson asked the candidates about supporting CMU education opportunities for underprivileged populations through grants and scholarships. Michelson said he was in favor of supporting CMU. “You’re what makes this town livable,” Michelson said.
Stout, a former CMU student, said it is important to focus on the younger
generation. Stout said investing in CMU is helpful for the community.
Simpson, who criticized spending money on things other than roads and emergency services in his introduction, said he it was hard for him to justify subsidizing CMU. “We really can’t afford everything. We have to make choices,” Simpson said.
“[CMU]’s been a great asset to our community,” McDaniel said, pointing out it was a matter of $900,000 in a multi-million dollar budget. “And we get a great return on that investment,” McDaniel said.
Jackson asked the candidates about a potential GVT strike that could affect CMU student’s ability to get to school. McDaniel said he didn’t think the transit workers would strike. Michelson said he was with the strikers. Referencing the wage complaints, Michelson said, “It can impact someone’s ability to be self-sufficient.”
One question from the audience referred to the Mesa County sheriff speaking against the Red Flag bill and asked if the candidates supporting enforcing it. Simpson wouldn’t weigh in on the issue, saying it’s a state bill, not a city issue. McDaniel said, “people having access to weapons and using them is very regrettable.”
Stout said she didn’t think it was the fundamentals of the bill that people oppose. “It’s how it’s enforced,” Stout said. She said there’s a real correlation between mental health issues and access to firearms.
“It’s pretty common sense; you don’t want someone drunk or crazy having a gun,” Michelson said. Michelson went on to highlight some problems with the bill, including placing police on the front lines of mental health, “because we’ve criminalized mental health.”
Stout closed the forum by speaking on behalf of all candidates present. She thanked the audience for attending and asking questions. The 2019 Regular Municipal Election will take place Apr. 2.