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Primary election: Q&A with Larimer County commissioner candidate Ben Aste

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Fort Collins Coloradoan Published 6:00 a.m. MT June 11, 2020 | Updated 7:43 a.m. MT June 11, 2020

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Ben Aste

Age: 62 on June 14

Occupation: Owner/operator of Uncle Benny’s Building Supplies for over 25 years

Family: Married to Sandy for 38 years. I have a son and a daughter. Both are married and live in Loveland with three grandchildren. And also, 27 nieces and nephews.

How many years have you been a resident of the district you are seeking to represent? Nearly five decades

Relevant volunteer/community organization participation:

I have volunteered in the community since earning my Eagle Scout Award at age 16, serving in various areas. I assisted in the recovery efforts after both the 1976 and the 2013 floods. I’ve learned how important the individual is and creative ways to problem solve. I co-created a Single-Mother’s Outreach Program, serving families in Loveland for nearly 10 years. Also, mentoring and life-coaching countless individuals for over four decades through our church and community. I have supported and volunteered with many local organizations including, 4-H, FFA, Scouts, schools, theater groups, artisan groups, first responders and multiple nonprofits across Larimer County, from Estes Park to Fort Collins and Red Feather Lakes to Wellington, including Loveland and Berthoud.

Website:vote4aste.com

Colorado primary election: Crowded field set for Larimer County commissioner races

If elected, what would be your top priorities as a commissioner?

Facilitating all of our businesses to ramp up to 100% ASAP. Budget review, job retention, competition of transportation projects, water development and sustainability.

What’s your opinion of how Larimer County and its public health department have responded to the coronavirus pandemic?

I think the health department has done well considering they initially were dealing with a difficult, novel situation that was similar to trying to hit a moving target. The county commissioner should be included in the decision-making process, sharing the burden of the full responsibility from the shoulders of a single individual. Commissioners oversee the welfare of the county as a whole. As elected county officials, commissioners should have oversight of all departments, including health and human services. They should receive data and expert advice from all departments while weighing out the best course of action for the health of the whole county — including economic impact of decisions made. Decisions regarding procedures should be made jointly by the county as they also receive public input and move forward.

How should Larimer County respond to decreased sales tax and property tax revenue brought on by the fallout from the coronavirus?

In light of proposed legislation coming up in the next month and the potential of the elimination of the Gallagher Amendment, as well as the property assessment rates being frozen for the next year, projected revenue assurances are very fluid. We will have to tighten our belts and only spend that which is absolutely necessary for as long as it takes to build our revenues back up. This requires a thorough review of the current budget, which I have been looking into for some time, working with the various departments. After going through many natural and unnatural disasters, I understand what it takes to stay strong as we move forward.

How would you go about making a decision on a controversial or emotional topic?

Human relations and interpersonal communication are skills that have been developed in me over the years. I am a listener and unifier. I have a very diplomatic approach regarding interactions with individuals and situations. It is important to listen to all points of view, study data, not rushing to the decision and then make the call.

What sets you apart from your primary opponent?

The variety of my personal experience and business acumen truly set me apart from the other candidates. I started working in land and water development over 35 years ago. During this time I also served on a water and sanitation district board for 3 years. Thirty-two years ago I began working with Larimer County’s zoning and land use codes. I have served as a stakeholder on three different major concerns within Larimer County — the Highway 402 Corridor Expansion Project, the Big Thompson River Reclamation Project and the Larimer County Wasteshed Buildout (landfill) Project.

Three years ago, I began attending Planning Commission meetings and work sessions, which I did for 8 months straight. During this time I also began shadowing the county commissioners on their rounds throughout Larimer County, as well as keeping abreast of the various departmental minutes, and continue to do so.

I also bring 38 years of business experience to this position, gained through starting several local businesses. The most recent business, of 25 years, has diverted over 3 million tons of new and usable materials back into our economy. I spearheaded an emerging market and industry, which now serves regionally into five neighboring states. An important part of this business experience includes creating and keeping a multimillion-dollar balanced budget, while interfacing with other industry leaders across the country. I have come through a half dozen natural and unnatural disasters, without being adversely affected.

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