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.
Many of you know me as a nonprofit leader, a community advocate, a horse woman, an artist, and a mother of two, but I would like to introduce myself as a Grand County Commissioner Candidate in District 2.
As a nonprofit leader, my greatest achievement to date is working with the Grand County Historical Association to preserve our community’s wealth of history and help our organization thrive. History is the soul of a community and is a common ground under which we can all find our roots and unity.
I have lived in Grand County for 16 years, finding a job at the Winter Park Resort switchboard upon moving to the Fraser Valley. From there I moved to the nonprofit world working for Northwest Rocky Mountain CASA, a local nonprofit that advocates for the best interest of children involved in the court system due to abuse and neglect.
Then as a single mother living in income based housing, I worked my way through my masters in nonprofit management, met the man of my dreams, grew our family, and bought a house. Through this journey, I experienced the real Grand County. The Grand County of working families and of having a side gig (or two). The Grand County of soccer Saturdays and Friday family ski days. The Grand County where you find community and lifelong friends.
My journey to become a candidate for commissioner began upon recognizing that Grand County is experiencing change and that it is time for the BOCC to change with it. I will bring an open mind and heart that will hear the needs of Grand County. I promise to operate with transparency and thoughtfulness. I will bring the voice of the working people to our county government.
Please visit my website at www. ganneforgrand.org or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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?
The job of a Grand County commissioner is to act as the policy making body of the county.
This includes the county’s administrative and budgetary functions. I have sat as the treasurer for the Fraser Valley Parent Action Committee for multiple years. As Executive Director of Grand County Historical Association, I have successfully created and managed a budget for four museum locations.
The Grand County Commissioners act as the Grand County Housing Authority Board, the Grand County Board of Human Services, as well as the Grand County Board of Health.
In my view, the responsibilities of the office, as well as daily operation of county offices, is for a commissioner to fall into a role of oversight and collaboration bringing our communities together for the best interest of the community.
As a nonprofit professional, no progress is made without collaboration. We are stronger together rather than acting as silos. I have specialized education and years of experience in leadership, communication and coalition building skills to bring people together to collaborate, be heard, and create clear paths toward action and solutions.
I have lived in Grand County for 16 years, drawn by the outdoors, struggling as a single mom, carving a path toward success with continued education. It was only through dedication, determination and hard work that I was able to lift myself out of poverty, and I understand what it takes to thrive as a working family in this county.
I recently heard it said that being a commissioner is the most important and powerful job in the West. The impact this job has on the quality of life here and future shape of our county is enormous. I believe it is essential that our county commissioners be transparent, communicate clearly, and listen deeply to represent their constituents and the skilled experts in our community who are working hard to guide Grand County toward health, wellbeing, safety and prosperity. It is time for us to bring more voices to the table, and ensure those voices are representative of all who wish to create a healthy and happy life here.
Week 3: 1. Campaigns often promise change. What changes would you want to see in the next 4 years if elected?
In the next four years, if elected, I would like to see our economy begin to shift from a tourist based economy to a year round economy. Ideally, our communities will be working together to find solutions to issues facing Grand County, such as housing, with county government support.
I’d like to see the growth of mental health services with additional mental health practitioners moving to the county due to creative solutions such as providing affordable operational space. As a county, we’d have a fully funded sheriff’s department that includes a social work on staff to assist further. As a board, we would fully support county departments as they do the good work to make our community successful including Public Health as they work to eradicate COVID-19 from our community.
And as we work through these issues, our county government will act in a transparent and ethical manner.
2. How would you prioritize the budget dollars and work with your fellow commissioners to make these a reality?
I believe fiscal responsibility is not only cutting budgets but investing in the community to reap even greater returns. Any business professional knows that you cannot have sustainable growth without investment. Our county departments have been cut repeatedly year after year, resulting in bare bones operations that don’t allow us to grow and thrive. We need to prioritize our quality of life as a community.
I will work with my fellow commissioners to share my knowledge of program development and growth to create success. By restoring funding to previous levels, we can grow our community proactively, driving the change we want to
see instead of sitting back and allowing change to happen to us.
Week 4: 1. How will you balance the needs and wants of county departments while working with a finite budget?
Each county department is designed to do a job that supports our community. Describing the budget procedure as a balance of wants and needs is an accurate, but black and white view of managing our county budget. It is truly grey terrain.
I believe that operating with fiscal responsibility does not equate to cutting budgets at every opportunity. To be fiscally responsible is to also invest in our community, to meet the wants and needs that allow these county departments to perform their jobs to the best of their ability while holding each department accountable for that work.
2. What criteria will you prioritize needs and wants?
The criterion for me is simple: what expenditures will best meet the needs of our working community. Is it investment in economic development to support our small businesses or is it investment in our trail systems? Where will our tax dollars go furthest in investing in our communities’ future? Grand County is growing exponentially. What investments will direct our growth toward creating the kind of community we want to live in?
3. If new resources were available, what one area of county services would you feel most need additional resources?
Every conversation I have had with county departments has described cuts over investment. At what point do we decide as a community that as we grow, our county departments must grow in response?
4. Should any parts of the county budget be shielded from cuts? If so, which area?
The needs of the community shifts with the changing times. At this time as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we should put our efforts towards protecting public health, as well as protecting our small businesses through economic development.
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?
The plan is simple, make a priority for smart growth in our community.
We have the opportunity to come together in collaboration with the municipalities, nonprofits and other stakeholders to identify the needs of the community. This work, along with ongoing plans from our towns can help identify how our community collaboratively would like to and should grow.
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?
I believe that the cost of preserving our rivers should be the responsibility of all users. This includes water users on the Front Range.
Windy Gap bypass is designed to address issues caused by the Windy Gap Firming Project that have had a negative effect on the Colorado Rivers health. The estimated cost is $15 million.
After an hour of research, it was unclear what the breakdown of cost is and who exactly was footing the bill, although it was apparent that the project was developed through collaboration of partners. This being said in addition to ecological concerns, the Colorado River and it’s ecosystems are integral to our tourism economy. If we lose our river, our economy will suffer with not only the loss of a precious resource and treasure, but also an economic driver in 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 definitely the role of Commissioner to help encourage growth, building and development. We are living in a flourishing community. We either choose how the change happens or we let the change happen to us. By advocating for smart development, the Grand County Commissioners can guide growth that benefits our community, not just for the tourism economy.
With the setting of the county budget, commissioners lead the tone of community growth. With investment in infrastructure that supports growth, we can drive how we see the future of Grand 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?
When building a team or department, the best individuals to fill roles within that team should be hired. To attract those team members, you must pay a living wage for the community in which they reside. Too few team members and goals are not reached as they cannot man the field, run ragged, and burn out. Too many unqualified and underpaid team members and the field is chaotic,with high turnover, and without leadership. The answer lies in investing in our teams, our departments and providing the support they require to perform successfully. No department or team can be successful without support and investment from their leaders.
A community member recently came to me with complaints surrounding a specific county department, and my question for him was, do you think they could do better if their budget was not cut 6 to 11% every year? Running a bare bones operation doesn’t equal running a successful operation.
We must invest in our residents, we must invest in county employees, we must invest in our community.
Week 6: The final set of questions asked the candidates to explain why they were the best candidate and to recap.
I don’t feel “best” is the correct question to ask.
I believe the question is where we want our community to be in the coming years.
After this past week’s events with the East Troublesome Fire, it is now more important than ever to invest in housing for our community. My opponent believes that tax credits for developers is the answer, I say it is not enough.
This past week has shown the dedication of our first responders and the work they are able to do on a bare bones budget, but is that right? If the snow had not come, would they have been adequately equipped and staffed to operate for the long haul?
Our community needs investment in our small businesses. The county department for economic development has been cut to one employee with no support to do the job of four. Even evacuated from her home, she has already begun work to provide support. We, as county government, need to invest in our small businesses and offer support as they navigate not only the economic effects of
the pandemic, but now those from the East Troublesome Fire.
I believe that I bring the voice of the working community to our Board of County Commissioner. My judgement lies with the best interest of our working communities. I believe that a bare bones budget is not fiscal responsibility. Fiscal responsibility is investing in our community so that it may grow and prosper.
My opponent is a respected community member from a homesteading family and he does good work as a commissioner, but does he represent your life in Grand County? Does he represent those of us who have had multiple jobs, struggled with housing, and sacrificed to maintain healthcare.
Best is not the question, but who represents you.