RIO GRANDE COUNTY — Rio Grande County Commissioner John Noffsker announced this week that he will be seeking re-election in the coming November 2022 election cycle.
Noffsker is completing his second term in office and survived a recall during his second year in office.
“I will never look down on the processes of our local government. As far as the recall, I encourage people to look at what actually happened during that time and make the decision on their own. I encourage such processes; it is the beauty of having them in place,” Noffsker said.
Noffsker has spent the past four years working on several projects throughout the county, including the Summitville land project and the Denver Rio Grande Railroad bankruptcy case.
“I was given the go-ahead to work on the Summitville project as soon as I came on board in 2019. We have made significant progress on the land the county acquired but there is still a ton of work to be done. I plan on focusing on a viable plan for the land and to continue work with the EPA to define clear lines of what we can and cannot do with the land up there,” said Noffsker.
Noffsker said that though he has had help from several sources throughout the past four years, learning about the Summitville area and its history was something that took a copious amount of time and effort. “Unless you have someone in line to take over this project that knows more about it than what we’ve learned in the last four years, anyone taking this project over could easily become lost," Noffsker said. "If I am re-elected, I want to see a viable plan in place and clear guidelines from the EPA. I want to see it be completed.”
Noffsker is also working to strengthen partnerships through state agencies that administer grants to the San Luis Valley through Homeland Security and other organizations.
“We deal with the Homeland Security Grant which is a nominal grant that overlaps over three years," he said. "The grant is for a nexus to terrorism but there has been a lack of clarity as to what that looks like here in the Valley and what we can do with the funding. There are so many facets to the grant without overlapping the different departments that fall under public safety.
“We have so many good people that work with these grants. When I inherited the grant management task last year, we had counties that were not participating, counties that were upset, counties that felt it wasn’t being handled correctly. So, we worked through a reorganization and finally got all of the counties to sign on. We are having regular meetings and we are prepared to go forward with the next grant cycle with more awareness at the commissioner’s level and more comfort with the grant,” explained Noffsker. “I want to continue that type of participation as a commissioner. There are so many factors out there that you can’t be driven by a political ideology.”
In his second term in office, Noffsker found himself and his fellow board members thrown into an unprecedented circumstance when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the county and what followed was two years of uncertainty.
“We struggled with the lack of coherent information, conflicting guidance and we had to deal with it at the local level and protect our population and still keep the county functioning," Noffsker said. "My favorite response whenever we get something from the state or federal government regarding COVID is, 'Why?'”
Noffsker said that he and his fellow commissioners worked countless hours to reopen the county as quickly as possible and worked to create a grant program utilizing COVID Relief Funding to help local businesses. The county awarded $300,000 of the COVID Relief Funding to local businesses struggling through the pandemic.
Looking forward, Noffsker would like to focus on the financial health of the county.
“We had all this money dumped on us during this pandemic, but we have to get a plan in place for the financial health and longevity of the county’s finances," he said. "I want to make sure we are not wasting money on something that will not be viable once those funds run their course. We need to focus on sustainability and see that our future is secure. I am running for re-election to see that happen and because my heart is here. It is not the money or anything else. This is my home and I want to see it taken care of.”