Candidate questionnaire for Bernard Gagne

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Name: Bernard “Bernie” Gagne

Age: 46

Occupation: director of facilities maintenance, Catamount Ranch & Club in Steamboat Springs

Prior political experience: Appointed to the Town Board in January to fill the seat of previous board member who resigned. I also ran for trustee in the 2008 elections.

Hometown: Adams, Mass.

Years in Oak Creek: six-year Oak Creek resident, 29-year Colorado resident

Family: Single, no children (My father is moving to Oak Creek from Massachusetts in June.)

Civic involvement: Active attendee of Oak Creek Town Hall meetings for over four years, active registered voter for 29 years with a keen interest in local and national politics and current events. I’ve also contributed to charitable causes my entire adult life (food banks, volunteering, local fundraisers, “ringing the bell” etc.).

1. The town is in the midst of several major infrastructure upgrades, with a wastewater treatment plant, pipes and water tower all being replaced or repaired. Where do you think resources in the town are most needed? The town has struggled to provide water meters and to pave more streets; do you think these items should be a high priority?

These are very high priorities. The immediate priority, I believe, is the prompt completion of the Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) reconstruction. This brings to close a multiyear, multimillion-dollar effort started in 2007, and it’ll be great to have such a large undertaking completed. With the WWTP and Waste Collection Systems replaced, we can focus on the Domestic Water Supply issues. Water Storage is of utmost concern as the present storage tank is deteriorating and must be replaced or possibly repaired. The town recently qualified for a grant from HUD/DOLA (Department of Local Affairs) to complete the engineering side of the project, and then we’ll research funding for the construction phase. The filtration and pump systems also require some attention, and beyond that is assessment of the distribution lines that require upgrades. Paving of streets is a goal we must strive for, but only after the water lines have been replaced — as that requires digging up the streets again. Also, paving of streets in Enterprise Zone 1 (Central business district) should be a higher priority than side streets … and do we consider chip and seal for side streets? Finally, the water meter installation is a challenge with many factors, i.e. the present water-based revenues must be retained with or without meters, the water supply lines should be replaced prior to meter installations, installations at many residences may prove challenging due to physical difficulties, and finally there’s the cost of the project to consider. The meter installation must be done for a variety of reasons, but it may take six-10 years to implement.

2. Supporting the town’s businesses and general economy are more important now than before the recession hit. How do you propose the Oak Creek Town Board develop the town’s economy?

Indeed, this is very important. Several local businesses have closed their doors and many others are suffering. Many South Routt residents are unemployed or under-employed, which ultimately means less money to for food, utilities or entertainment. The town’s tax revenues are decreasing at an alarming rate. To begin the process of rebounding economically, there are several things we must look at: First, stimulate local business by increasing activity in town by supporting projects like the Community Garden, which will give us a summer activity at the skating rink, and possibly lead to flea markets or even a farmers market; any of these will increase consumer presence in town. Second, revitalize the South Routt Economic Development Council … a board member (or mayor) should be appointed to the council to actively pursue new ideas and opportunities. Other ideas have been discussed too, such as “Buy Local” programs (a must) and discounts on water bills for supporting local businesses (via receipts or coupons). … Honestly, this is a time when we need to pull together as a community and support each other however we can. … Buy local! Hire local contractors! Boost the community spirit! We should all support our local businesses, which in turn will help the town as a whole.

3. Several candidates have mentioned a need to increase services for children in town. Do you believe this issue is a high priority? Why or why not, and what would you do?

This is a priority because there is a vacuum of available programs or venues for kids in town, and it’s more than just an Oak Creek concern; it is a concern for all of the South Routt community. To have additional programs to involve local kids and those in outlying areas is important. … The increased usage of the skating rink for child hockey and figure skating is great to see and should be encouraged. It’s my understanding that we have more programs (at the rink) forthcoming for the kids, and I support that completely. Also, the board recently discussed grants that are available to install a new basketball court, volleyball court and make other improvements at Decker Park; we should pursue these grants aggressively to support our youth …

4. The Oak Creek Town Board has recently passed regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries, and a moratorium on approving building changes to allow medical marijuana cultivation. Were these appropriate actions? How would you have handled the situation? And what are the next steps?

I believe both were appropriate actions. Having researched this topic vigorously, I am convinced the appropriate actions were taken by the board as well as the Planning Commission, which voted to recommend approval of the dispensary license. In the year 2000, the voters of Colorado approved a ballot initiative to legalize “medical marijuana.” In 2001, the state Legislature passed into law (Colorado Revised Statute 0-4-287 Article XVIII, Section 14) the guidelines describing when, where, who, why medical marijuana is to be prescribed. The statute does not, however, address the details of rules and regulations governing such businesses. Therefore, towns like ours have been left to create proper ordinances regulating these types of businesses. … As a town trustee, my primary obligation is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the town’s citizens, and I believe our actions have been in accordance with that obligation. After the elections, it’s on the agenda for the board to create an ordinance regulating marijuana cultivation in town.

5. The town’s police department, after many troubles in the past, now has one officer. The community service officer was let go during the probationary period, and there is no talk of rehiring for that position. Are you happy with the current police force? Why or why not, and what would you like to see in the future?

Yes, I am very satisfied with the current police force, and yes, there are plans to hire another community service officer. At present we have one full-time, year-round officer (Lance, he’s great). We have budgeted monies to hire another CSO. We also have a seasonal officer to help out in the busier summer months. Having said that, I believe there is no need for three officers on staff at any time, and given our declining tax revenues, we may only be able to afford Lance and one seasonal/part-time CSO. In any case, I am committed to the safety and security of Oak Creek residents. I’ve assisted a number of local businesses with their security concerns, and have attended the court appearances of several individuals who’ve committed crimes in Oak Creek in order to inform myself and others of the status of those cases and their prosecution.

Open-ended

I’m humbled to ask the residents of Oak Creek for their vote on April 6. As I’ve said, there is a lot of work to be done in town, and I’m willing to make that commitment. I assure you that I’m committed to the town and will make wise, prudent and thoughtful decisions on behalf of our residents. I have very strong project management skills and strong fiscal experience — both of which are important at this time. I’m available to assist residents with their concerns. My professional experience includes extensive electronics and electrical project management, extensive plumbing and water supply experience, and extensive personnel management skills, to name a few. I will dedicate the required time, energy, and skills for the betterment of Oak Creek, its residents and its employees! 

For anyone with questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact me by phone at 819-3624.

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