Week 1, candidates were asked: Please introduce yourself to the community in 250 words or less and explain why you are running for this position. Candidate responses are unedited.
My name is Travis Wildeboer. My wife Alyssa and I moved to Grand County from Iowa 2 weeks after we got married in 2003. Our first years were spent gaining experience by working in every industry possible. From teaching snowboard lessons, driving the airport shuttle, tuning skis, to working in the local restaurants, we did it all. In 2005, we contended first-hand with the challenge of finding affordable property in Grand County. With fervent willpower and a strong desire to establish roots, we purchased a vacant lot in Winter Park and built our own home from the ground up. We eventually started our own small businesses, with myself building homes and Alyssa operating a small cleaning business.
With a higher calling to public service, in 2013 I went through the EMT program offered by Grand County EMS and have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working for and serving the county full-time for the past 7 years. Since then, our family has doubled in size with the arrival of our 2 children, Topher in 2015 and Tilly in 2017.
I enjoy skiing/snowboarding in the winter and competing in ultra-distance races in the summer. I find the greatest satisfaction in pushing myself through challenging circumstances, such as my time through-hiking the Appalachian Trail, climbing all of Colorado’s 14ers, and competing in organized long distance foot and mountain bike races.
Mostly I enjoy spending time with my family and friends who are ultimately the real reason I call this place home.
I am running for District 1 County Commissioner so that I can help ensure that my children have the same opportunities to
build healthy, productive lives here that my wife and I have had.
I am running as an unaffiliated candidate because my interests are in doing what is best for our community. I take pride in seeking out diverse viewpoints and educating myself on issues before making decisions. As your commissioner, I will be committed to addressing your concerns and will remain focused on the needs of our county. We need to invest in sustainable economic growth, preserving Grand County’s natural resources, and most importantly our people. It is critical that we attract and retain the brightest Teachers, First Responders, and Civil Servants while supporting and empowering them at the same time.
As your commissioner I will bring an unrelenting drive and passion to leading our county.
Week 2: Many people don’t understand the job of county commissioner. How do you see the job’s responsibilities and what are your qualifications for the office?
I feel it is most important that a commissioner has a deep knowledge of the issues and concerns of the community. With this knowledge, they are able to best set policy for our county. In order to do this, they must be able to genuinely connect with the people and listen to their concerns. When making critical decisions, a commissioner has to be fair and open-minded with an awareness of their own biases and opinions. A commissioner must have a strong analytical mind and be willing to gather as much information as possible before making key decisions. Above all a commissioner must be trusted by the people they are representing.
As a commissioner I will bring a wealth of knowledge from 17 year’s experience in running my own business and working to understand the multitude of diverse industries in our community. Since moving to Grand County in 2003, I have worked in the technical trades, tourism, transportation, and emergency services. That work has showed me the challenges they each face. My appreciation of the indomitable spirit and grit of Grand County people has come through my years of working next to Grand County’s workers. Through managing million-dollar budgets as a general contractor I have developed strong financial discipline. My desire to help provide the best possible future of my community grew stronger with the birth of my 2 children. I intend to bring the same passion to serving as a commissioner that I have operating my own small business, working as a first responder, and providing for my family. As commissioner I will never stop working to build and maintain the trust of this community.
Week 3: 1. Campaigns often promise change. What changes would you want to see in the next 4 years if elected?
If elected, I would like to see more problems solved through community involvement; by actively bringing the community to the table. I think groups and boards like the Economic Recovery Team and Grand Places 2050 are great examples of collaboration with community leaders to not only hear and discuss but achieve comprehensive solutions to our largest issues.
2. How would you prioritize the budget dollars and work with your fellow commissioners to make these a reality?
I believe buy-in from the community leaders, knowledgeable department heads, and elected officials to find a balance to appropriate budgetary spending is the first objective. Grand County has a diverse and knowledgeable employee and community partner base. Our team of professionals has intimate knowledge surrounding their employees, daily operations, and the ways the county budget both positively and negatively impact their offices, towns, municipalities, and special districts. This is the beginning to a great foundation. Implementing a process where leaders routinely meet in a public setting will allow everyone to be heard by all commissioners to find attainable solutions to the biggest challenges our county faces.
Week 4: 1. How will you balance the needs and wants of county departments while working with a finite budget?
With the effects from the pandemic, adding to an already tight budget, I believe all departments will have to collectively make sacrifices on their “wants” to ensure the “needs” of the entire county government are met. Despite this, I will make sure that our essential services to our citizens including public safety and public health, are kept at the highest standards possible.
2. What criteria will you prioritize needs and wants?
I will always prioritize the public safety and health of our community in the budget process while also placing a strong emphasis on fiscal responsibility.
3. If new resources were available, what one area of county services would you feel most need additional resources?
In our changing county, continuing to attract and support our best and brightest civil servants is crucial to our growth and stability. I would first ensure employee compensation is keeping up with the rises in cost of living, then look towards investing in economic development.
4. Should any parts of the county budget be shielded from cuts? If so, which area?
Any services that are critical to the immediate safety of our community should be shielded from budget cuts.
Week 5: 1. Grand County has not updated its land use and zoning codes to deal effectively with current development pressures. Do you have a plan
to accomplish this task?
Yes, Grand County Land use codes need to be updated with strong consideration and appreciation for the diversity in all of our municipalities along with what our infrastructure, resources, and services can support.
2. Should Grand County taxpayers continue to fund the Windy Gap bypass project in view of the fact this Colorado River issue was created by eastern slope water users?
From my time spent in the county I know funding of the Windy Gap bypass project is a complex issue.
In my time running for this office I have talked to countless people regarding many issues. I don’t feel I have gathered enough information to offer any solid opinions or plans on this issue yet, though I am working diligently to do so. I take the responsibility of commissioner seriously and will ensure that I am well educated on each issue before making decisions that will affect the future of our County.
3. Is it the role of the Commissioners to help encourage development and building? If so, what measures can the county do to help development and building?
It is the role of the Commissioners to ensure development and building are done responsibly. Development and building can strain our essential services such as fire protection and education. We need to be sure that development contributes to our system so that it doesn’t pass what our infrastructure, resources, and services can handle. Through ensuring all stakeholders are represented when development is discussed, our county commissioners can help maximize the value development brings to our County.
4. When managing public agencies, is it better to have more employees at a modest wage or few employees at a wage high enough to attract quality applicants?
It is important to find a balance of both. We need to make sure we have adequate number of employees to provide all the various services without overworking those who are so dedicated to serving our community. We also need to be sure we provide competitive wages to keep up with increased cost of living to help attract and retain the best and brightest.
Week 6: The final set of questions asked the candidates to explain why they were the best candidate and to recap.
I would like to start off with a huge Thank You to the Grand Gazette for taking interest in the 2020 election and asking such great questions over the past 6 weeks. With all the challenges of campaigning during a pandemic it was incredibly beneficial to both the public and the candidates to have such a platform to share our thoughts and ideas. The questions were very thought provoking and did a fantastic job of touching the wide range of topics that our county is experiencing.
I’d also like to express to the citizens of Grand County that it has been an incredible pleasure getting to know so many of you and listening to your thoughts and concerns about the future of our county. I can’t express the gratitude I have for all of you who have supported and believed in me throughout this election.
I have always struggled with self promotion and have found questions such as this one to be the most difficult to answer. With such a razor thin line between confidence and arrogance, subjective thoughts and statements comparing ourselves can come across either way. I believe that at the end of the day its action that really matters. Like all other large endeavors that I have committed myself to, I have strived to be honest in my intentions, ensuring that ego plays no role in this campaign. My confidence that I am the best candidate comes from my work ethic, my commitment to serving to my community, and my unwavering dedication to treat all people with respect.
Grand County is my favorite place on earth to be and I’ll do whatever it takes to preserve and protect all that makes our home so special. I’m here to listen, I’m here to learn, and most of all I’m here to help. I love Grand County.