La Plata County is headed for shallow water in coming years, and he is the guy who can guide the ship of state through
the shoals, Jeff Mannix said Tuesday when he announced his candidacy for county commissioner.
You have only three commissioners doing your bidding so be very careful who you pick," Mannix, a Democrat, told an
audience at the courthouse. Be certain that one-third of your government is responsive to your needs and hopes, not
just a place-holder with boilerplate answers to life-altering challenges."
Mannix, who is 67 this year, received a degree in journalism from Boston University in 1966. He is a rancher (organic
beef), businessman and freelance writer.
He has served on the county Budget Advisory Commission and Board of Appeals and the Governor's Community Corrections
Mannix ran for county commissioner as a Republican in 2002 but lost in a three-candidate primary.
Among issues he addressed Tuesday:
- A land-use plan that has teeth and leadership that will enforce its regulations.
Growth should be encouraged, but it should be concentrated, not pods around the county," Mannix said. The airport
is an excellent place for a business park. I don't know why the county has not approved it.
Zoning is inevitable, but we can't sprawl La Plata County to pieces," he said. A comprehensive plan, which has been
less than comprehensive up to now, should be ready for commissioners this summer."
- Revenue sources to replace the anticipated decline in severance-tax revenue from gas production.
One choice is to scale back and tighten up. But if a new tax is needed, I have the guts to bring it up," Mannix
said. If it's the only choice, it's the only choice. We can't let the county go down the drain."
In support of a tax increase, Mannix said La Plata County has the third-lowest property tax in the state. Statistics
for 2008, the latest available at the county assessor's office, shows La Plata County as fifth lowest, behind Pitkin, El Paso, Chaffee and Eagle counties.
- Improved conduct from the gas industry.
If we wait much longer to demand of the extraction industries kinder and gentler practices on our fragile land and
scarce water resources, we won't have much left to protect."
Mannix said he would support a non-binding resolution from commissioners to regulate fracing through the Clean Water
Act. Fracing is the injection of chemicals and water into coal seams to free coal-bed methane gas. A resolution to
that effect failed on a 2-1 vote last year.
- Collaboration with the city of Durango and state, federal and tribal entities.
As for the Forest Service, the federal agency must be constantly reminded" that the county deserves a voice in
decisions, Mannix said. The comment was in response to a question about his opposition to the proposed land swap with
the Glacier Club.
Not withstanding the elegance of the Glacier Club's gated community, encroaching on Haviland Lake recreation area
and obliterating the historic Animas Canyon Toll Road cannot be permitted," Mannix said.
Mannix said he will be wooing unaffiliated voters, almost one-third of the county's registered voters. As of Tuesday, the county had 9,986 registered Democrats and 9,569 Republicans. Unaffiliated voters numbered 9,080.