Republicans Henderson and Ed Ulibarri will battle out in a June primary to determine who will challenge Olmstead, who officially became a candidate during the Montrose County Democrat Assembly on March 24.
Olmstead said qualities that drew him to Montrose eight years ago from Chicago – a good hospital, amenities and an abundance of small-town sincerity – is what he'll focus on, if elected.
"I've always been interested in this community," Olmstead said in an interview with The Watch.
Olmstead is currently participating in the county's "Inside Montrose County" informational series, and said it is these types of program that are important for the county to provide.
"If more citizens knew what was going on or appreciated the complex nature of things … if they all had some of the knowledge that's in this course, they would better understand what the county government is up against," he said.
Olmstead said he sees good things, such as these informational sessions, happening at the county level, adding that he believes there is good communication between the county commissioners and their county manager, which he would continue if elected
The county “is kind of OK now, but I don't want a hospital or airport situation to come up again,” Olmstead said, referring to lawsuits that have consumed county time and dollars in recent years.
He said he never would become embroiled in the confrontation that erupted between the commissioners and the hospital board, adding it was important to remember that the Montrose Memorial Hospital trustees were reacting to ballot issue that would have greatly affected the hospital's budget.
Omstead believes the present configuration of the hospital works fine, and said he would work to create an open and honest relationship with trustees and directors, if elected.
The relationship between the commissioners and the hospital board “needs to be open with no hidden agendas on either side,” Olmstead said.
Regarding other county issues, Olmstead said he would prefer to not see uranium mining come to the county’s West End, but that it’s important to recognize it is a remote area, with a dearth of economic opportunity.
Olmstead remains unconvinced there is a demand for uranium at this time; nor is he convinced that the end product would stay in or even benefit the United States.
"Generally, I don't support uranium, because I'd rather see alternative power, such as wind, solar and conservation," Olmstead said.
He is against the privatization of county services, in general; nor does he support the county's application for conditional water rights from the San Miguel River.
He believes that process is one that is too long and costly.
“Water is what we fight for over here, and that means attorneys,” he said.
He added that the county's battle for these water rights are not justified, either.
“The amount they are seeking is too large for the population on the West End, and is based on unknown development,” Olmstead said. “I don't see how we can justify those expenses just for those rights.”
The cost to taxpayers has been estimated at $1.2 million, not including the costs for land acquisition and construction of reservoirs to store the water if the rights are approved.
Olmstead said he'd like to see the county work toward attracting smaller businesses, rather than just one or two larger companies, as a way to improve economic conditions in the area.
Although this is Olmstead's first political campaign, he has worked behind the scenes in several local campaigns, including the campaign of Watch advertising representative Regina Sowell when she ran for county clerk, and two campaigns for Bill Patterson, a current Montrose city councilor.