ISSUES WE CARE ABOUT
I believe that in Gunnison County, we know we’re some of the lucky ones. We get to call one of the most beautiful places on earth home. Our livelihoods, our pastimes, and our traditions are grounded in nature and community at a time when Americans feel increasingly disconnected from the natural world and each other.
We also feel the pressure. Increasing tourism. The pandemic. Housing shortages. Worker shortages. A backcountry that’s being loved to death. It can feel like a pressure cooker. But I also believe in Gunnison County and the people who call it home. We’re resilient, and we’re not afraid to look challenge in the eye. We can address many of our current challenges by focusing on a few interconnected priorities:
Livable, Safe, and Still Funky
It’s time we find ways to use our tourism-based economy to support vibrant and resilient communities. We’ve done a lot of work to mitigate the environmental impacts of tourism and outdoor recreation. Now, we need to look at mitigating the economic impacts.
As a County Commissioner, I will work diligently to support and create programs and policies that foster long-term, sustainable jobs and opportunities for professional growth for our residents. The entrepreneurship supported by the ICELab is an example of this, but I think we also need to do more to ensure that tourism is working for everybody. I am committed to exploring new ways to incentivize livable wages, affordable housing, and essential services, like child care, education, and health care. I believe we have resources and collaborations that are yet untapped that can help move the needle on creating vibrant communities and sustainable lives for all residents in Gunnison County.
One of the main ways we can keep our communities thriving is by supporting housing for a diversity of residents.
HOUSING FOR EVERYONE
SMART DEVELOPMENT IN THE RIGHT PLACES
Communities thrive when people live where they work. When we connect people to place, several problems are addressed at once: housing, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and quality of life. Everyone is more connected to their community. They spend less time and money on transportation, which means they can spend more time and money with their families, doing what they love, and giving back to their communities.
We need a consistent, collaborative regional approach to housing. STOR is a great example of this structural commitment to collaboration; I’m ready to lead a similar kind of collaborative structure to make a plan for housing–including municipalities, nonprofits, individuals, and private industry. We need to look at where people work, how much housing we need, and where it makes the most sense to put that housing so our residents are connected to transportation, work, schools, recreation, and each other.
The Gunnison Valley is growing very quickly. It’s time to be proactive about making decisions about where we want to see that growth and where we want land conserved. Caring for our residents goes hand-in-hand with caring for the land and waters that are our lifeblood.
WE ALL STAND TO WIN.
These issues might feel big, but they are not insurmountable. And now is the time to do the big picture thinking and ask the important questions so we can take meaningful action for our future. In many ways we have to.
This work is about more than providing roofs over heads or managing people at trailheads. It’s about preserving the spirit of Gunnison County–that little bit of wild-west rowdiness we know and love. You know what I’m talking about. It shows up at the rodeo in Gunnison, skiing the extremes at CBMR and at Vinotok in Crested Butte. It’s what lets us know we belong here, and reminds us that even when things are hard, we really are some of the lucky ones.
KEEPING UP WITH THE PACE OF CHANGE
Our communities have done a lot of work around mitigating environmental impacts from tourism: designated camping, the CBCC and Gunnison Trails, signage, toilets, and more. We need to continue these efforts, and I’d like to explore the idea of creating “priority zones” for recreation: places where we invest in the infrastructure necessary to prevent environmental degradation. Hartman Rocks in Gunnison is a great example of this; where else in Gunnison County we can support outdoor recreation in ways that still protect our wild places?
We need to look at how we can protect our quiet places, wildlife, agricultural heritage, and water for future generations. This means looking at both where and how people are recreating, but also where and how we are developing our County. When we talk about development, we also need to talk about where we can and should protect wildlife habitat, wildlife corridors, ranching, and viewsheds.
The County has done a lot to promote sustainable buildings and transportation, including substantial growth in the RTA bus routes that run every day from Gunnison to Crested Butte, the development of a net-zero airport in Gunnison, and increased energy efficiency requirements in the building code. But some of the problems we’re facing are bigger than what the County can do alone. The climate affects all of us, from our ranchers to our anglers to our skiers that support our businesses. It’s going to be up to all of us to make substantial investments in a thriving future amid the challenges brought by a changing climate. I’d like to see a collaborative effort among our communities to undertake a serious commitment to climate action, so that we can adapt to changes that have already occurred and protect what we love for future generations.
With my diverse background working in the service industry, outdoor recreation, government, and education, I am ready to push these conversations forward so that the County of the future is one we still want to live in.