Occupation: Journalist, Graphic design / Marketing and Commercial Space planner
1. How do you define freedom of information, and what three action items would you introduce to guarantee the peoples’ right to know?
The 1966 Freedom of Information Act and its amended, expanded scope of electronic records, 1996, is federal law. All U.S. governing bodies, including municipalities, must extend public accountability wherever and whenever feasible. The city is bound by federal law to address transparency issues on behalf of the public, regarding the people’s right to know. Action items related to the law are taken at the time of an infraction or investigation of issues related to this topic.
2. Describe the biggest mistake of your professional career. What lessons did you learn?
My career in journalism is fraught with potential mistakes. I meet them head-on every day in every sentence on any topic and re-learn each time that it is worth the effort to be as clear, concise and correct as possible. It is a privilege to accept my responsibilities to readers and to the people and communities relative to the topic.
3. Describe the greatest accomplishment of your professional career. Who is your mentor and why?
The first of two accomplishments is the contract work I do for Stonefish – graphic design, marketing and interior specifications (design). The logo I designed — the “cool, white fish in shades” — has become a Cortez destination brand known and appreciated in regional markets. The second is my decision to cover in-depth, complex, regional topics in journalism - natural resources, government and politics, Tribal and medical issues. The process enriches my understanding of myself in community while requiring a deep measure of courage and commitment to tell all sides of the story. It taught me to listen carefully, and respect the opinions of a broad spectrum of people. Mentor: Maria Roberts, a colleague / educator at Peetz Consolidated School in northeast Colo. She pushes me to see beyond my writing into what the reader will not understand; to write for the audience – explain, be brave, respect the reader as much as the topic.
4. What are your top priorities as a councilmember? Please explain your vision for the city’s future.
Business, public safety and health/education are all linked to the trust we place in a growing, stable economy. As an example, the investment Cortez has made in fiber optic communications has stabilized and enhanced established business in Cortez, while opening the door to new, fresh entrepreneurial opportunities that were unimaginable in our parents’ generation. By providing access to this communication infrastructure the city has placed us on the threshold of a flourishing future. It is one decision of many that will build the confidence needed to nurture a sustainable, trustworthy, safe and healthy quality of life for young families. Cortez must continue investing in strong choices that pay heed to the next generation of people who will live, work and prosper in Cortez.
5. What is the best thing about Cortez, and what is the worst thing about Cortez?
The people of Cortez, the city’s ancestral roots in agriculture and ranching, and the rural culture create the wealth and prosperity, beauty and balance to life found here. But our city is a hub. It thrives on a strong assortment of residents, a large county / regional / tourist populace who shop, work and own businesses in Cortez. Our mix is beautiful. It enriches our city coffers, our character and our allure. I think the psychological “boom and bust” cycle that historically pulls Cortez away from economic security, progress and natural growth is our worst attribute. Fearing that “bad times” will come again is only human, something known and reinforced in Cortez through shared experience. Conscientious city management, enduring family values and a community commitment to understanding what we can learn from those waning times will help pre-empt the self-destructive impulses that could harm our sustainable future.
6. The city recently partnered with Osprey Packs to create jobs. Describe your blueprint to spur additional economic development?
Both the Osprey partnership and the city fiber optics project generate a bridge between what has been a status quo approach to business development and what could change to keep pace with reasonable expectations of doing business in Cortez. In both cases, the decision challenging the city infused positive consequences beyond project considerations, beyond the economic impact of job creation and stability. The Osprey deal brings stature to the community: Cortez is smart and willing to work on behalf of keeping prosperity here. It also places the city on the international radar of successful like-minded recreation entrepreneurs – a fit in our beautiful location. Access to fiber optics solved issues of connection for our existing businesses while building a value-added component into Cortez for future businesses. These projects express awareness by the city management and council of the business confidence necessary to sustain current prosperity as well as cultivate new businesses.
7. In recent months, there’s been a debate about over the former Montezuma-Cortez High School building on 7th Street. What would you suggest to remedy the issue? And what would you do to bridge efforts with other government/agencies to reduce blight and beautify city corridors?
I would suggest the school board clearly define the usable parts of the school building, explore the cost of renovation in those areas and possibilities of abatement or demolition of the unsafe or unusable portions of the vacant school. The large high school field on the north side of the building offers an opportunity to develop a park/community garden feature in the southwest sector of Cortez where there is none, an amenity for the residential area most in need of city improvement. With the sprinkler system and grass already in place the front-end development costs are reduced, making the project more feasible. Second question: I would continue the city corridor beautification collaboration with CDOT.
8. Many in the community have been upset with the city’s response in clearing snow from the roadways. What updates to the city code, if any, should be made to alleviate future grumblings?
Considering the size of our city snow removal fleet, and the immediate impact of unprecedented heavy snowfalls occurring in late December and January, I really think the city did a fine job of clearing, re-clearing, hauling and maintaining public safety on the streets. We could take a common sense approach to helping out by moving our vehicles off the road wherever possible. We should n ot alter a city code, create an ordinance, fine or criminalize citizens when extreme weather conditions place an unexpected strain on the city maintenance departments and the citizens.
9. The city appears likely to approve outdoor dining and alcohol sales. What additional measures should the city examine to boost and support downtown business owners?
The ordinance under discussion is related to use of the city-owned sidewalk easements on side streets, but does not include sidewalks on Main Street. It affects very few food and beverage businesses at this time, but putting it in place now will allow business owners the opportunity to expand their concepts and perhaps revitalize potential development options for some downtown commercial buildings in the future. The city is in the design development stages of a beautification plan for Main Street. The concept is an important boost for downtown businesses and affects the quality of life for all residents and visitors.
10. The governor recently declared the Paths to Mesa Verde project a top priority for 2016. What would you do to ensure that trail way becomes a reality this year?
It is misleading to say that the project will become a reality this year. It is too large. It’ll be a lengthy process, expensive and involves many discussions, collaborations and funding commitments by federal, state, county and city governments, landowners and citizens. It is an attraction providing healthy recreation options for us and tourists with some economic benefit to our community. The trail brings an opportunity to develop an international web-based communication hub reaching beyond Cortez to the users, hikers and bicyclists who should participate in front-end support, financial donations and comments for the project, a buy-in from the future. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to view it as an additional stand-alone opportunity to market our recreation community, designed and operated by one or more of the many qualified local, Cortez based web-designers.
11. The Paradise Village infrastructure improvement project is behind schedule. How would you ease tensions among the frustrated residents that live in that area, and what financial steps should be taken now to ensure future infrastructure improvements?
The Paradise Village improvement project is a huge, expensive undertaking. The complexity and scale of the work, and the impact on the families in the neighborhood is intense. Something went wrong between the contractor’s understanding of the scope of this project and the performance commitment. Weather delays are only a partial excuse. I would suggest that time projections, task schedules and the impact of weather on completion dates could be more accurate. In the meantime, residents have criticized the lack of communication with them about delays, procedures and expected finish. The peace a family builds at home represents stability; the safe place at the end of the day. Their sense of well-being must never be marginalized. For a project of such complexity involving the vulnerability of so many residents, the contractor should provide an on-site community liaison, available to answer questions as they arise. Performance bonds are a financial commitment.
12. The city has passed marijuana legislation. Should those laws be rescinded or expanded? Please explain.
The legislation is fine, as passed, as long as monitoring of the businesses is managed as mandated in the legislation.
13. Recent studies have indicated that affordable housing coupled with a living wage are needed in Cortez. Would you support a city ordinance setting a $15/hour minimum wage? If not, list other proposals to address the issue.
Municipalities addressing living wage ordinances are larger than Cortez, yet are realistically acknowledging the fact that any increase in minimum wage flows directly back into the community. Larger cities experience higher than average local living costs and therefore are addressing the issue before smaller cities. Las Cruces, pop 101,408, will increase minimum wage to $10.10 by 2019, gradually raising the wage floor for low-paid workers there. The need for reforms of issues around annual inflation indexing and higher minimum tipped wages are not addressed in timely manner, if at all, at the state level. If Cortez sets a competitive minimum wage for city workers it will stimulate a stronger local economy, and possibly influence higher wages in the Cortez private sector. The 2016 federal minimum wage is $7.25. In Colorado, where average cost of living is 30% below east and west coast cities, minimum wage increased on January 1 to $8.31. Tipped employee minimum wage increased to $5.29.
14. Water rights are king in the west. Should the city council take an active role to promote conservation, and what proposals would you submit to help promote water conservation? The city takes an active role by imposing enforced water restrictions during the summer months. I would like to hear more suggestions on this topic from residents.
15. Law enforcement and mental health advocates argue that a detox center is needed. Do you support that initiative? What would you do to make it a reality?
Not addressing the need for a detox center in this community is regressive and expensive. Law enforcement, mental health providers and patient families are the first contact for this issue. I respect their opinion, experience, judgment, suggested solutions and alternatives. It benefits the city decision to understand concrete economic advantages of a local detox center. For instance, what is the cost of the current procedural deputy escort during the 2.5 – 3 hour drive to deliver a client to the nearest Colorado detox center in Durango? Testimony on the societal, human and financial benefits to our community and the clientele would be an essential contribution to the evidence the city gathers while considering the issue. Funding for a behavioral health project of this scale will require multiple and varied government, private and NGO partnerships, plus a buy-in from the residents of Cortez.