ALAMOSA — Few seats were vacant Tuesday night during a candidate forum at the Society Hall in Alamosa.
Community members packed the hall to hear from candidates for contested races for Alamosa County commissioner, treasurer and assessor as well as candidates for House District 62.
Facing off in the treasurer’s race are Democrat Donna Griego and Republican Amy McKinley. They both hope to fill the vacancy that will be left in January when long-time Treasurer Lois Widhalm retires.
Incumbent Alamosa County Commissioner Michael Yohn, a Republican, faces opposition from Democrat Edward Vigil, a former Costilla County commissioner and state representative.
Incumbent Alamosa County Assessor Sandra Hostetter, a Republican, is opposed by Josef Lucero, running as an independent. Lucero was not present at the Tuesday forum.
Candidates for the House District 62 seat are incumbent State Representative Donald Valdez, a Democrat, who is challenged by Republican Scott Honeycutt.
Specific questions will be addressed in subsequent articles. Following are introductions to the candidates.
Donna Griego has 30 years in public service. Her service at Adams State included management of online programs encompassing 600 students in masters and doctoral programs and executive assistant to the provost.
She has a bachelor of science in business administration management and a master’s degree in administration/leadership in higher education. She has experience in managing budgets and as a trustee of Adams State serves on the audit and finance committee, which deals with the institution’s $60 million budget. She has been involved in investment portfolios and endowments.
Griego said she would serve as the county fiduciary with the highest level of care to make sure funds were disbursed properly and according to state statutes.
“I bring my education, my training and my experience,” she said.
She added she would run a transparent office and would be sensitive to the public’s needs. She is bilingual.
“I believe in cooperating with those around me as we work together to achieve the same goals,” she added.
Amy McKinley spent three years in private industry, 22 years working in Alamosa County finances, a year at Adams State and two years for the City of Alamosa. She said her background gives her the skills necessary for the treasurer’s position.
“I have the skills and the knowledge as well as the hands-on experience,” she said.
She is familiar with audits and has worked on state and local audits, always successfully passing each audit. Working in the county’s Department of Human Services, she dealt with software conversions and a $13.5 million budget that spanned three different fiscal years, county, state and federal. She also has hands-on managerial experience.
She has been married for 29 years and raised two children. She served on the Sangre de Cristo school board from 2001-2005 and is a member of Kiwanis and Optimist Clubs.
“I work well with every group of people,” she said.
She said although Widhalm leaves big shoes to fill, she believes she can do the job.
Sandra Hostetter has four children and three grandchildren. She is a San Luis Valley native who grew up on a cattle ranch in La Jara. She moved to Alamosa in 1991 and became a single mom in 1992. She was grateful to get a job in the Alamosa County Assessor’s office and worked for Dorothy Yeater and Doris Orcutt before their retirements.
She earned her appraiser’s license in 1996 and became deputy assessor in 1999. She was first elected in 2003 and has been re-elected since that time.
As assessor she has been in charge of valuing taxable property and conforming with state statutes. Her office is audited annually, and she said she is proud to say that the office has passed the audit every year.
Hostetter is active in the Colorado Assessors Association and has served as past president of that organization. She belongs to other professional organizations as well and is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, SLV GIS/GPS Authority, Community Christmas Dinner Committee and Beat the Heat.
She said she has a wonderful staff and has the knowledge and experience to continue serving Alamosa County as assessor.
Independent candidate for assessor Josef Lucero was not present for the forum. He established Lucero’s Dental Arts and has served as mayor of Alamosa. He is a lifelong Valley resident who attended Antonito High School and Adams State and is a veteran of the U.S. Army.
Commissioner Dist. 2
Democratic candidate Ed Vigil has experience as county commissioner in another county and served as state representative. He said his experience has helped him understand the process from the state level to the county level and vice versa.
In the legislature he served on agriculture and livestock committees as well as water, business affairs and veterans committee.
He is also a local business owner.
He said he has much budget and management experience, works well under pressure and is dependable. “I work well with team members,” he added.
He is bilingual and has the ability to work with people on the local, state and federal levels.
He recommended holding listening tours to hear what county residents need and want.
“I think a county commissioner needs to really collaborate with the city,” he said. Working with the medical field is also important, he said, particularly in providing treatment so people are not finding their way into the county jail. Promoting economic development is also a priority, he said.
“We need to continue moving forward,” he said.
Michael Yohn is the incumbent county commissioner for District 2. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army. He was born and raised in Alamosa and has been married to wife Janet for 47 years.
He owned Broadway Service, which he sold in 2008 and ran for county commissioner.
“I still have that desire to serve Alamosa,” he said.
He added that Alamosa is growing and the county must keep up with infrastructure.
He cited accomplishments such as the building of the new annex building, airport terminal and jail additions, all completed on time and under budget. The new courthouse will also be under budget, he added.
The county is adding roads to its inventory and has increased funding for the sheriff and district attorney budgets “in an effort to help fight crime,” he said.
The county has developed a full-time environmental health person, has a blight ordinance, is closing the Co-op landfill and has worked with the property owner to clean up “Devil’s Playground.”
“Let’s keep Alamosa moving forward and be fiscally responsible to taxpayers,” he said.
House District 62
Donald Valdez, a Democrat, is the incumbent for the state representative seat, which covers an eight-county area including the San Luis Valley. His priorities include accessible health care and education, and he has sponsored bills in both areas such as the telehealth legislation.
Dealing with the opioid epidemic is also a priority, he said. “We need more prevention, education at early ages, and treatment.”
He has also supported water legislation and agricultural measures beneficial to his district, such as sponsoring legislation permitting water usage for industrial hemp production.
The area has experienced low snowpack, and the aquifer has decreased, so more conservation and efficiency are required, he said. Education is also a crucial piece, he said.
Scott Honeycutt is the Republican candidate for House District 62. A lifelong Alamosa resident, he is married with two sons. He comes from a rodeo/ranching background.
Honeycutt said God, family and country are his three priorities. He believes in freedom of religion, speech and the right to bear arms.
Education is a huge priority for him as well. “We need to enable our teachers to teach, not be babysitters.” He said it is important to provide the vocational training options such as ag, wood working and welding.
Water is also an important priority, developing yields with less water usage.
He said he has a strong work ethic and wants to be part of the solution.