OURAY COUNTY – Two county Republicans announced their candidacies recently for commissioner seats in Districts 1 and 3.
Former commissioner and long-time Ridgway resident Don Batchelder made his run for the vacant District 3 position official just prior to the Republican caucus on Feb. 7. That seat is currently held by Heidi Albritton, who is term-limited.
Third-generation rancher and Log Hill resident Jack Flowers announced his candidacy Saturday night (Feb. 11) at the annual Ouray County Cattlemen’s Association banquet. Flowers is running for the seat held by incumbent Democrat Lynn Padgett, who has said she will seek a second term.
Batchelder served as county commissioner for eight years, from 2001 to 2009, as mayor of Ridgway for 12 years, and as Ridgway town manger for four years. He has also spent time on the Ridgway Planning Commission (16 years), the Ridgway School District (11 years), and the Region 10 executive committee (eight years).
In between all that public service, Batchelder, who is originally from a small town in New Hampshire and moved to Ridgway in 1977, has owned a successful masonry business.
He told The Watch there were three reasons for throwing his hat back in the ring. “One, a lot of people I respect asked me to run again. Two, I think I have some skills to bring to the job. And three, as much as I thoroughly enjoy the masonry work, I miss the mental stimulation” of government. Batchelder said his experience “offers a unique perspective that would be valuable to the citizens of the county.”
In his official announcement, Batchelder wrote: “Many view government as a necessary nuisance. This generally leads to a distrust of governments. To mitigate this distrust, the services that government provides and the regulatory process necessary for a functioning society should be efficient, transparent and predictable. Elected officials should be courteous, fair, knowledgeable and approachable. They need to remember that they serve all the citizens, not just those that voted for them, and they need to take issues and the inevitable attacks associated with those issues seriously but not personally.”
Asked about the tenure of Albritton, the commissioner he would replace, Batchelder said, “I think Heidi has done a very credible job. She has learned a lot. At a dinner years ago, I said in my speech that Heidi may not be in the Democrats’ closet, but she keeps a couple pairs of shoes in there.”
Jack Flowers is a third-generation farmer/rancher. (He also does some hunting guiding and outfitting.) He announced his candidacy at the Cattlemen’s Banquet because, as his press release stated, “I wanted my friends and extended family to be the first to know of this decision.”
Flowers has served on the county’s Right-to-Farm Agricultural Review Board and the Tri-County Water Conservancy District Board. His daughter Amanda Flowers is on the Fair Board.
Flowers lives on the family place on Log Hill with his wife Marty and their younger children Dawson and Darshawn. He told the cattlemen, “I’m looking forward to meeting with the folks in the coming weeks to discuss specific goals for the county.”
Past president of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association Robbie Baird LeValley added, “We must all remember that no matter what comes down from the state and national levels, it all starts with us right here in our home county.”