Candidates forum set for March 31

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Hayden residents will be able to choose from four people to fill three seats on the Hayden Town Board in the April 6 municipal election.

In the meantime, to help residents choose their candidates, a public forum and debate mediated by Mark Fischer will be held at 7 p.m. March 31 at Hayden Town Hall.

Mayor Chuck Grobe is running uncontested, but four trustee candidates are vying for the three vacant seats. The candidates are incumbents Ken Gibbon, Richard "Festus" Hagins and Lorraine Johnson, and Hayden Recreation Board member Richard Bush.

Gibbon said he wanted to take a break from his 10 consecutive years on the board but, "Growth is what's making me run again."

"I wasn't going to run at all," Gibbon said. "But I got phone calls from friends and all over about the growth issues. This election, to me, is a referendum on how you want Hayden to grow. If you want to continue slow, managed growth as written in the master plan, vote for me. If you want to double the size of town quickly, don't vote for me."

Gibbon said he sided with the two Planning Commission members who voted against an annexation petition two weeks ago, and he wants Hayden to expand into its own borders before extending them, as the town's master plan dictates.

Gibbon supports increasing recreational opportunities and proposed designating a dog park at the last Town Board meeting. However, he wants to achieve new opportunities through frugal spending. He said he wants the town to spend as conservatively as possible.

Bush also is in favor of recreational opportunities. He proposed, built and maintained a cross country ski trail in town this winter. He also advocates getting a much-discussed trail system under way, and said he wants to improve communication between the Hayden School Board and Town Board.

Johnson is seeking a second consecutive four-year term also as a proponent of slow, managed growth. However, she said, "We've got to start somewhere."

"(West Routt Properties developers) have only applied for the application of an annexation," Johnson said. "Until an impact study comes back and starts answering questions, we won't know the impact. It's something we've got to at least look at."

Johnson said her main goal as a trustee is to promote a commercial and residential balance that allows Hayden to circulate its dollars, plug economic "leakage" and create jobs. And to do that, she said some growth is essential.

"If we don't become somewhat sustainable in our town and are dependent of the rest of the valley, Hayden will go away," Johnson said. "I will have to go someplace else to find a job."

Johnson says she thinks Hayden has more recreation now than what most people give the town credit for, and it has "quality and quantity recreation opportunities." Also, she said the town is "doing a good job at managing the money."

Hagins, who has served as trustee and mayor, could be reached for comment.

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