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Meet the Cortez City Council candidates

Ten candidates are vying for four open seats on Cortez City Council.
Ten candidates vying for four open seats

Ten candidates who are vying for four positions on the Cortez City Council introduced themselves at a ballot drawing Monday evening.

Jay Balfour, chief of the Cortez Fire Protection District, drew the candidate ballot positions.

Mayor Mike Lavey, who was elected in 2018, and Orly Lucero, who has served two four-year terms beginning in 2014, will vacate their positions. Councilors Robert Dobry and Matthew Keefauver will seek reelection.

Councilors Rachel Medina, David Rainey and Arlina Yazzie remain in their positions with two years left in their terms.

The municipal election is April 5, and the newly elected officials will take office April 26.

Three four-year terms and one two-year term are open.

The three candidates with the most votes will be elected to four-year terms, and the candidate with the next highest number of votes will serve two years.

Ballots will be mailed to registered voters in Cortez the week of March 14.

The council will choose the mayor and mayor pro tem April 26.

A meet-and-greet will be held Feb. 15 at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers.

Each candidate filled out a biographical information form as part of their candidacy.

The candidates are:

William ‘Bill’ Banks

Banks, 65, was the only candidate not present at Monday’s drawing, because he was still driving a bus for Montezuma-Cortez School District RE-1.

A resident for 46 years, he has served on the Cortez Church of the Nazarene board for seven years and on the church’s budget committee for four years.

Banks has an associate of arts degree from Pueblo Community College, was in Phi Theta Kappa and on the national dean’s list, according to a biographical information form.

Banks can be contacted at BillBanksforCortez@gmail.com or at (970) 560-3297.

Lydia DeHaven

DeHaven, 34, is an archaeologist for the federal government with a master’s degree in cultural resource management.

Originally from Pittsburgh, she has lived in Cortez for 4½ years and in Montezuma County for nine.

“I chose to live here because I fell in love with the values, and I would really like to help out as the city develops and to create more economic development and affordable housing moving forward,” she said at Monday’s drawing.

DeHaven is on the board and executive committee of The Bridge Shelter and volunteers at Grace’s Kitchen at St. Barnabas of the Valley Episcopal Church.

“Being involved with my community and assisting people in need is a core value that has been instilled in me from my family, which includes multiple Baptist preachers and a strong line of community service. I believe we need to support all of our neighbors in order to have a safe, healthy and thriving community for everyone,” the form reads.

DeHaven can be contacted at lydiadehaven@gmail.com.

Robert Dobry

Dobry, 41, a Cortez resident for six years, is director of corporate support and digital projects at KSJD public radio station.

He replaced the late Sue Betts on City Council in October 2020.

He has also served on the Montezuma County Hospital District since 2018, and was elected as treasurer/secretary in 2020. He served on the Southwest Memorial Hospital foundation from 2016-2021, on the Dolores Town Board from 2016 to 2017 and on the Dolores Planning and Zoning Board from 2015-2016.

“My main interest is in kind of the financial accountability and making sure that we’re stewarding the money of the taxpayers of Cortez,” he said Monday.

Dobry can be contacted at robert.dobry@gmail.com.

Sean Dolan

Dolan, 31, is unemployed and has lived in Cortez for four years. He was previously a reporter at The Journal and in Utah and has worked in the marijuana and hospitality industries.

On his biographical information form, he wrote: “I support the interests of the working class. I am tired of workers not receiving a fair share of profit from their labor.”

“I’m really passionate about trying to support the working class here in Cortez and building wealth among our workers,” he said Monday.

Dolan can be contacted at sdolan.cortez@gmail.com or at 202-329-9117.

Houston Frizzell

Frizzell, 43, is a sales manager at Steve Keetch Motors. He has lived in Montezuma County his entire life, and in Cortez for 20 years.

“I think I can make the time to just kind of give back to the community,” he said at Monday’s drawing. “So here I am.”

He has served on the boards of the Montezuma County Partners, the Four Corners Child Advocacy Center and the High Altitude Steel Car Club.

“We chose to raise our family in Cortez despite having job offers in other towns,” he wrote on his biographical information form. “Our family is here, and this is where we want to be.”

Frizzell can be contacted at hfrizzell2000@yahoo.com.

Matthew Keefauver

Keefauver, 52, is a seventh grade math teacher in Montezuma-Cortez School District RE-1.

He replaced Amy Huckins on City Council in June 2021 when she resigned.

A Cortez resident of 19 years, he also has served on the boards of the Four Corners Child Advocacy Center, Cortez Cultural Center, Willowtail Springs and CARS.

He served as mayor pro tem for eight years, and was selected as Best Educator of Montezuma County for the past three years.

“I really dig races, I really seriously love this kind of stuff,” he said Monday.

Keefauver can be contacted at matthewkeefauver@aol.com.

Rafe O’Brien

O’Brien, 32, is a welder, mechanic and laborer who has lived in Cortez his entire life.

He previously ran for City Council two years ago.

He describes himself as an “outdoor man” who loves politics, dirt track racing, ATV riding and cooking.

“Every part of this is my community,” he said at Monday’s drawing. “I just want to be here to give back, and when I was in school, a lot of our teachers told us at the time, ‘You guys need to give back and be a part of it,’ and this is what I want to be part of.”

O’Brien can be contacted at bikr1234545@gmail.com or at 970-739-1970.

Dennis Spruell

Spruell, 64, owns Cortez Animal Bed and Breakfast, is a retired law enforcement officer and has lived in Cortez his entire life.

He served as the Montezuma County Sheriff for four years and spent 30 years with the Cortez Police Department.

“I've been out of sight for about five years, and I decided ‘Hey, it's time to get back in it,’” he said Monday.

He’s done work with The Bridge Shelter, U.S. Police Canine Association and Fraternal Order of Police.

Spruell can be contacted at 970-565-4814 or at dspruell3@msn.com.

George Tripp

Tripp, 63, is a retired engineer who has lived in Cortez for 49 years.

He also served on the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Advisory Board, TriCity Soccer Board and Piñon Project board.

“I'm more than happy to get involved with the community and try to help out as much as possible,” he said Monday. “I think the best way to serve is to listen to people and see what their concerns are and try to figure out solutions.”

He’s a Navy veteran and holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

“I am a strong advocate for education and love to see someone learn something new or different for the first time,” he wrote on his biographical information form. “I have a ‘hands-on,’ adventurous and analytical personality that helps me explore new experiences or find sound solutions.”

Tripp can be reached at 970-560-8747 or at webtripp@msncom.

Justin Vasterling

Vasterling, 50, is general manager of the Holiday Inn Express and oversees the Retro Inn at Mesa Verde and the Destination Grill.

A Cortez resident for 19 years, he has served as president of the Mesa Verde Country board and as director of the Grand Circle Association board, a destination marketing organization focusing on the Southwestern states.

“I love government and politics and running in local government,” he said at Monday. “I’m kind of like a City Council junkie, I like attending, and I think it’s very interesting. I’d like to help out more.”

He enjoys painting, writing stories, traveling the area and cooking, according to his biographical information form.

He is a centrist and “great listener” who regularly attends City Council meetings, he wrote.

Vasterling can be reached at 714-904-6640 or justin@coloradoholiday.com.

The candidates will appear on the ballot in the following order:

  • Dennis Spruell
  • Bill Banks
  • Matthew Keefauver
  • George Tripp
  • Robert Dobry
  • Rafe O’Brien
  • Lydia DeHaven
  • Houston Frizzell
  • Justin Vasterling
  • Sean Dolan

City Clerk Linda Smith can be contacted at 970-565-3402 ext. 1128 or at lsmith@cortezco.gov.