Dolores writer shares here perspective on Becca's presence at the San Juan Farm Bureau candidate's forum.

By Maddy Butcher, Dolores resident

Samulski’s sons on a garden picking day back in apricot season.

Earlier this month, voters had the opportunity to get to know their candidates a bit better, with the airing of a “Meet the Candidates Night” sponsored by the San Juan Basin Farm Bureau.

San Juan Basin Farm Bureau: Meet the Candidates Night. – YouTube: Commissioner candidates start at 45:45 with Mr. Lindsey who will take the District 2 seat in January. If you’ve got the interest, it was good to hear from State Representative incumbent Marc Catlin, a written statement from Republican Senator candidate Lauren Boebert, State Board of Education incumbent Joyce Rankin, and County District Attorney Republican candidate Matthew Margeson.

Becca Samulski was a standout, and not just because she was the only one with props – corn from her garden and timber harvested locally. Samulski also brought succinct, informed, forward-thinking answers to the range of questions fielded over the two-and-a-half hour session.

Land Use

Many questions concerned the growth and development of the county, including the proposal to change zoning from three-acre to single-acre parcels in some areas.

Samulski said there were already ways for developers to get around the three-acre restriction, but that more consideration was needed. She stressed the importance of a comprehensive plan that anticipated growth and involved the entire community.

“Those solutions (for acreage size) were a quick fix. They don’t make a whole lot of sense. I hope land use code is addressed in much more comprehensive way.

“I can do that by walking the land, finding out peoples’ values,” said Samulski.

Forests and Water

The candidate also shared her depth of knowledge of forestry and the potential for forestry-related business growth. Our water needs can be partially addressed by an increasingly healthy forest, she said.

“I think one of our big opportunities is with our forest health, thinning, and getting our forests more in shape, where they can store more water up in the mountains, up where they’re storing snow, and release that more slowly so that we have a longer [irrigation] season,” Samulski said.

Water was a top-of-mind issue for many voters. Some voiced concern over losing water rights to communities downstream or to diversion projects. Samulski spoke directly to their concerns:

“The biggest thing commissioners do related to water is land use decisions, how our community grows, and where new homes and business are put based on water availability. That’s really important to figure out. It’s really unclear right now when it comes to what you can do where.

“The other important role commissioners have is being a voice, to participate in Club 20 (a non-partisan organization dedicated to lobbying for the 20 counties on the Western Slope) and to be the squeaky wheel that says, “Nope. We need every drop here,” and to make sure every drop is accounted for and being used wisely.”