MONTROSE – District 1 County Commissioner Ron Henderson has decided to run for reelection. In a Dec. 8 announcement, the Delta native said, “There are some things I want to get done yet.”
Henderson was elected commissioner in 2008 following two unsuccessful attempts in 2000 and 2004. He will be challenged in the Republican primary by Montrose homebuilder Ed Ulibarri.
Known for his folksy non sequiturs, and for his unapologetic boosterism for Montrose and for the United States of America, Henderson told The Watch in a phone interview about his reasons for running again. “A couple of famous guys said, a life unexamined is not worth living. In the short time I’ve been on the planet, I kind of agree with them.”
He has also, in his three years in office, gained a reputation as a fighter for what he sees as the county’s interests: in the ongoing, and very expensive, federal litigation between the county and JetAway Aviation over contract decisions at the airport; in appealing the court decision supporting Montrose Memorial Hospital’s move to lease its operation to a local non-profit – another big legal expense (Henderson sees the hospital as a county asset that should remain under county control); and in his support for the Toronto-based company Energy Fuels Inc., in its drive to build a uranium processing mill in the Paradox Valley in the west end of the county. Henderson sees the mill as a job producer and an important cog in the nation’s energy independence.
Henderson, whose family started Delta Sand and Gravel (“I was riding in a dump truck when I was three”) and is now in the real estate business, was asked what he is proudest of over the last three years. He said, “I’m really glad to have the opportunity to serve the taxpayers of Montrose. Having this job has underscored the reasons why I enjoy life here – the community and the people.”
As to what has frustrated him over the same time period, Henderson replied, “I really find it disappointing that people want to fight, to litigate. It’s non-productive. Whether it’s the hospital or the airport or legal situations like our attempt to gain water rights on the San Miguel River.” Henderson insisted that filing for those water rights had nothing to do with their use by the Piñon Ridge mill. “Oh no. That water is for the commercial, industrial, and agricultural uses of the future.”
Asked what he would like accomplish in a second term, Henderson said, “I’d like to get this JetAway thing settled down, finished. But that’ll probably take four or five years…You can’t fathom the time and effort it takes to stay involved with that. If we were to acquiesce we would be thrown into other lawsuits. We have to stick this one out.”
The commissioner said he would also like to “go ahead and see our tourism industry and recreation tuned up and let fly more. We were in the middle of the forest and never saw the trees,” he said, referring to the recreational opportunities within and surrounding Montrose County. He said the Gunnison River Economic Attraction Team (GREAT) had with county support applied for Colorado state sales tax monies and come up with “141 ideas, recreation projects to build on. We’re the only West Slope group that applied [to the state] along with I think five on the East Slope. They’ll be starting their review process in March 2012.”
Henderson’s fellow Republican incumbent David White, from District 3 (the west and south ends of the county), will announce his decision to run or not today, Dec. 15 at the Montrose Library at 10 a.m., and then again at 2:30 p.m. at the Naturita Library. Jim Haugsness, a candidate in 2004 and 2008, has already stated his intention to challenge White for the District 3 seat.