Friday, November 15, 2019

Meet the Candidates: Week 3

It is election season in Crested Butte and we have a race for Town Council. Between now and the end of October, the Crested Butte News will be asking council candidates to answer questions related to issues in the community. We are asking that they keep their answers to no more than 600 words total. If you have a question you want us to ask them, send it to editorial@crestedbuttenews.com.

The News will also be sponsoring a Candidates Forum on Sunday, October 20 at the Crested Butte Center for the Arts. We will begin the questioning at 6 p.m. and expect the event to last between 90 minutes and two hours.

Ballots will be mailed out by October 18 and must be returned by November 5.

—Mark Reaman

 

Jim Schmidt

Mayoral candidate

Climate change is becoming more and more of an issue with Crested Butte, so how does the council impact climate change while trying to be a vibrant resort community that depends on tourism?

I have been a believer in climate change for a long time, before the first Earth Day. But I am ashamed my generation has not done more for our Earth. I will not be passive anymore in my interactions with tourists and climate deniers. It is the greatest threat to the world and when the U.S. should be doing everything possible to curb carbon emissions, Trump is plunging us backward to the days of black lung and rivers catching on fire. And the weak-willed members of the Republican party like Senator Gardner and Rep. Scott Tipton are afraid to stand up to Trump for the generations to come. It’s a case of greed over everything else.

Locally, I have introduced a plan and the council has budgeted for it, to buy green power for one year for all the GCEA accounts in Crested Butte. Hopefully everyone will see how inexpensive it is and continue to do so in the future. The town’s energy action plan is under way and we are looking at every possible way to achieve success.

What is Crested Butte doing well—and where do you think it is missing the mark?

Every time I go to another resort town I realize how many things we are doing well.

Housing—23 percent of units in the town are deed restricted and 30 more units are under construction.

Short-term rentals—Our ordinance works well (everybody is a little dissatisfied—it was a compromise) and it is a model for other towns.

Parks, Rec and trails—Outstanding considering the amount of money available. We have leveraged our meager funds for large grants. Downside, we cannot afford a rec center (pool) without doing it on a north end of the valley basis.

Transportation—Mountain Express and the RTA have both worked well for years.

Open space—When officials from Park City were here they were greatly impressed by our funding source and the results.

Parking and traffic—I am not as freaked out as some by the traffic in town. Again after visiting many other ski towns, we have a much higher rate of bicycle use than anywhere else.

Do you use the library? How?

Rarely.

Last book you read?

Last and favorite book: Shantoram.

Do you support building a moat filled with snakes and alligators around Crested Butte?

We need to get real about the moat. Polar bears and killer whales should handle our climate much better (I’ve never been a snake fan).

Who would you want to spend an hour with on the bench in front of the post office and what would you talk about?

Vladimir Putin. I want to know what he really has on Trump.

 

 

Mallika Magner

Council candidate

Climate change is becoming more and more of an issue with Crested Butte, so how does the council impact climate change while trying to be a vibrant resort community that depends on tourism?

I think every person—and every town, county, state and country—has a compelling duty to take concrete steps to protect our Earth. Along with individual actions, we must seek to have an impact through local and regional leadership. Crested Butte’s Climate Action Plan, which aims to reduce our greenhouse gas and community emissions footprint, is a good start.

But we can do more. Many other communities, local governments and others are contemplating this very same question, so it’s good news that we’re not left solely to our own devices. There are hundreds of initiatives being tried as we’re reading this, and I am committed to bringing the best and most effective ideas to our valley.

This is an issue of such worldwide importance that I think we must act regardless of how we think our visitors will react. As a bonus, we can educate them so they can take what they learn here back to their own communities.

What is Crested Butte doing well—and where do you think it is missing the mark?

I think we as a community care about the right things. We do that well. But sometimes we take a bit too much time to study issues, make decisions and take action. I’d like to see some long-standing matters, for example, the bike path to Crested Butte South, get finalized. That said, I have a great appreciation for the public process—discussion, input and debate. That takes time. AND… governments aren’t typically the most efficient of entities. However, I think we can and should—always, really—expect more of ourselves. (Maybe this is more a commentary on me than Crested Butte!)

Do you use the library? How?

I am a huge fan of our library, and a frequent user, to check out books and for the awesome programming the library provides. Did you see the hatching chicks, the baby goats or the telescope? Experience the constitutional law or poetry series, or do one of the wine tastings? If not, check out our library!

Last book you read?

Love by Toni Morrison (the choice of my 20+-year-old Crested Butte book club).

Do you support building a moat filled with snakes and alligators around Crested Butte?

That’s a troublingly familiar notion! (“Build that Moat! Build that Moat!”) But I understand the sentiment; most of us have wished we could freeze time and live happily-ever-after in a slower, quieter Crested Butte—the prospect of more people, more density, traffic and the associated pains of growth is daunting. But I’m grateful the moat wasn’t built in 1995 when I first topped the hill into town and immediately knew in my heart it was home. And while there have been many changes since then, Crested Butte has retained its specialness.

So I believe that, if we continue to be thoughtful and diligent, we can maintain this unique community. All of the topics discussed and written about here—developing an affordable and accessible lifestyle for our workers and residents, being ecologically responsible, keeping our locals living in town, budgeting and taxing wisely, etc.—are essential toward that end.

In the meantime—if there must be a moat—I propose we build a bridge and a toll booth, and to gain entry, each new arrival must promise to be true to our town’s core values: “We are about community and nature. We care deeply about our neighbors. We walk and ride bikes when we can. We’re seriously committed to maintaining the look, feel and vibe of this place. We’re committed stewards to the beauty that surrounds us. Do you solemnly promise to love, honor and obey? Yes? Okay, then. Welcome!”

Who would you want to spend an hour with on the bench in front of the post office and what would you talk about?

Greta Thunberg, because of her courage, her truth, her vision and because she gives me faith in humanity and hope for our future.

 

Monique “Mona” Merrill

Council candidate

Climate change is becoming more and more of an issue with Crested Butte, so how does the council impact climate change while trying to be a vibrant resort community that depends on tourism?

Four years ago our family decided to reduce our climate footprint, and in a few months installed solar, stopped eating beef, sold our pickup truck and replaced it with an electric car. It was exciting to see Colorado HB19-1261 pass, setting aggressive GHG emissions goals for the whole state over the coming years. In Crested Butte, locals are doing a great job on the aggressive new Climate Action Plan. The Town Council will be facing some difficult decisions when implementing our CAP in the coming years, and has an opportunity to collaborate with GCEA on new renewable energy projects. I look forward to supporting these initiatives on council.

What is Crested Butte doing well—and where do you think it is missing the mark?

Locals housing: Our affordable housing projects are doing a great job building out much of the town’s last remaining land. This is great for current needs. However, I only anticipate this issue getting more challenging in the future and I’d like to see 10- and 20-year plans. I think we need to expand our land inventory for future projects and I want to make sure that we keep up with the next phase of growth.

Climate: We have been behind other towns in terms of installing renewable power to fight climate change. However, the new Climate Action Plan, backed up by our new state legislation, is just what we need to get kicked into gear on climate. Now for the important part: implementation.

Vail: As I talk to locals about Vail, I hear a lot of positive feedback, with people excited about pay raises and improvements to the mountain. But we also need to remember that Vail’s purpose is profit. We need to be hyper-vigilant, given its financial and political power as a nine-billion-dollar corporation that can drive change on a scale most people around here can’t imagine. There are lots of great people working for Vail and there is great potential to collaborate with them. I believe we need to work proactively with Vail, Mt. Crested Butte and the county to help make sure the development Vail brings fits with the Crested Butte vibe we all love.

Do you use the library? How?

We used the library a lot when our daughter was younger and still in pre-K. The programs they have for pre-K children helped us connect with other families and gave us a place to explore and play. I feel libraries are a vital part of a community.

Last book you read?

Educated by Tara Westover.

Do you support building a moat filled with snakes and alligators around Crested Butte?

You forgot the dragons and dinosaurs… 😉 I’d like that, but money will fly right over that moat in private jets! We can’t keep the money out, which is why we need to limit its influence where needed to keep locals in town.

Who would you want to spend an hour with on the bench in front of the post office and what would you talk about?

The Dali Lama. Not sure we would need to talk… just sitting and absorbing his presence would be inspiring. I’m sure he’d help just by smiling and reminding us all to be grateful. His message of compassion and empathy would help unify our community.

 

Laura Mitchell

Council candidate

Climate change is becoming more and more of an issue with Crested Butte, so how does the council impact climate change while trying to be a vibrant resort community that depends on tourism?

We are planning to be able to have alternative fuel plans along with a spark-proof shop in the future for the proposed new bus barn for Mountain Express. We need to work with Vail Resorts and Mt. Crested Butte so that we can maintain our livelihood.

What is Crested Butte doing well—and where do you think it is missing the mark?

As a council we have worked very hard to allow the affordable housing in Phase 2 at Paradise Park to happen. A lot of good faith and dire need fueled our desire to get Phase 2 up and going. We are missing the mark on getting some workforce housing available, however. I think that the larger employers need to be a larger part of the conversation.

Do you use the library? How?

I use the library to print when my home printer is acting up and occasionally find a book I like there.

Last book you read?

Whiskey When We Are Dry.

Do you support building a moat filled with snakes and alligators around Crested Butte?

I think that might cause some unintended consequences that may or may not be noteworthy.

Who would you want to spend an hour with on the bench in front of the post office and what would you talk about?

My son Kyle and his ideas for the future of Crested Butte.

 

Anne Moore

Council candidate

Climate change is becoming more and more of an issue with Crested Butte, so how does the council impact climate change while trying to be a vibrant resort community that depends on tourism?

Living in a ski resort town, it’s impossible to ignore the size of our carbon footprint. We run lifts, we make snow and it takes some fossil fuels in doing so. The current town council and the town staff have developed a climate change action plan for next year that will be more than half a million dollars in spending. In that way, I think we are making climate change a significant priority. However, I believe that we need to start with a simpler approach in the meantime. The best thing we can do for this Earth on a basic level is properly sort our trash. In town, we have the same number of street trash cans as we did eight years ago. We haven’t matched our growth to our waste in this town in many years. If we would like the guests to help us keep this town clean and respect the Earth, then we must make the path clear for them by providing more trash and recycling bins. Furthermore, recycling in the county is getting more restrictive by the day. I would gladly put monetary funds toward the recycling center and would ask all other councils to join us in that endeavor.

If we are going to take climate change seriously, then we must start with the trash. It’s not glamorous spending, nor even fun to talk about, but until we start processing our trash and recycling properly, we are spending money and spinning our wheels.

What is Crested Butte doing well—and where do you think it is missing the mark?

Our public transportation system is phenomenal! The buses to town, the mountain, Crested Butte South and Gunnison connect the valley. These buses make living here doable. We have come a long way from hitchhiking signs just outside of town to a full running bus system throughout the Valley.

However, our parking situation needs our attention. We need to create more parking, protect year-round residents’ right to spaces and encourage the use of the school lots as well as really think about how we are going to get our guests from point A to point B once they’ve parked. Resolution in this area will go a long way toward easing local/guest relations.

Do you use the library? How?

Yes! The library has a wonderful selection of books as well as DVDs!

Last book you read?

I love to read—it’s genuinely my favorite thing to do. I’ve chosen to read all this summer and didn’t turn my TV on for three months so there are too many books to list. However, I will share my favorite book which is the most impactful and personally influential book I’ve ever read, and will continue to read: The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Do you support building a moat filled with snakes and alligators around Crested Butte?

No. We need everyone! The folks that come spend money, we need them! The folks that move here to work and ski for a season, we need them! Parents moving here with their families to enrich this community and their lives, we need them! I don’t believe in a closed-door policy. This is an inclusive community and I will always stand by that.

Who would you want to spend an hour with on the bench in front of the post office and what would you talk about?

Ideally, I’d sit there with my mom, hopefully not talking about much. Bench sitting is good for that.

 

Will Dujardin

Council candidate

Climate change is becoming more and more of an issue with Crested Butte, so how does the council impact climate change while trying to be a vibrant resort community that depends on tourism?

Tourism and Climate Action/Awareness go hand in hand. Yes, people have to use fossil fuels to get here and even just currently exist in this environment, but we are transitioning to renewable energy as fast as possible. Not to get too into the weeds, but we are only allowed to produce 5 percent of our energy locally according to the contract with GCEA and Tri-state, so we are working with those entities to try to expand our possibilities. In the meantime the Crested Butte Climate Action Plan is in the works with town staff and various stakeholders, so we will continue to keep working on that and push something that can actually make a difference. Banning plastic bags was a start; next are single-use plastics, but we have to go way beyond if we want to make a difference for ourselves and educate our guests. More stringent building codes, incentives for deep retrofits, mandating sleep-mode technology, reducing our waste, using electric buses and a lot more things I can’t list here are all on the table to try to achieve net-zero emissions for our community and show other places it’s possible.

Our council has developed aggressive goals to get our town-owned buildings and eventually our residences in line with this mission. We need to take it a step further by declaring a climate emergency and making sure we are evaluating every decision we make, as in buildings, ordinances, etc., and the impact on the climate it will have. The naysayers go, “What difference does a little town like Crested Butte make?” Well, if we can make changes on our level we can apply it around the world. If a tourist picks up ideas here and can apply them at home, we are making progress. Even though we are a small town, we are part of a state-wide network of counties and municipalities pushing for government action on a state and federal level called Colorado Communities for Climate Action; they were an integral part of last state legislative session that opened up funding sources in Colorado for climate action and enacted more stringent regulations for extractive and automotive industries. Joining CC4CA was something I pushed for so we can affect change locally and nationally—if we lose a few tourists because we are “too progressive” trying to save the world and our winters, then so be it; we’ll attract more people to our town who are more in line with our mindset.

What is Crested Butte doing well—and where do you think it is missing the mark?

If it feels like some of my answers are getting repetitive, it’s because I’ve talked about affordable housing three weeks in a row as something we are not doing well enough. We still have not been able to make a significant impact on affordable rentals in more than just the two years I have been in office; it’s been one of my biggest frustrations with my fellow council members.

However, we do have some awesome things going: We’ve found some creative affordable housing solutions through deed-restrictions, employer units; we have a well-used public transportation system, we have access to amazing trails right out of town and our parks and rec programs serve the greater north end of the valley, but you won’t see me patting ourselves on the back much when we are in a housing crisis that we helped create and a climate emergency.

Do you use the library? How?

I have a library card and take out books when necessary; I wish I had more time to go to the myriad of events they host, from informative speakers to dance parties.

Last book you read?

Jitterbug Perfume; working on Leviathan Wakes and Paul Hawken’s Drawdown.

Do you support building a moat filled with snakes and alligators around Crested Butte?

No, unless we add a small jump you have to clear on skis/board/bike to prove yourself worthy. Jests aside, the protectionist mindset of some people who are fortunate enough to live here is eerily similar to another guy trying to build a useless wall.

Who would you want to spend an hour with on the bench in front of the post office and what would you talk about?

John Wesley Powell and talk about water in the American West, probably longer than an hour.

 

Candice Bradley

Council candidate

Climate change is becoming more and more of an issue with Crested Butte, so how does the council impact climate change while trying to be a vibrant resort community that depends on tourism?

The council has been making movements to impact climate change. I believe that is a step in the right direction. This is also where I need to learn more as a councilperson. I have enjoyed learning about options that have helped other communities. I must admit that I had some lousy habits when I moved here from the city. I have worked on making my impact less severe with the help from community members.

Being a ski resort community does mean the people are travelling to us on a regular basis. Making that travel less impactful to our environment would be great. Pressuring our energy providers to provide cleaner energy to power the resort, the restaurants, the businesses and homes in our community is a great start. I know that this community is focused on making this planet last a little bit longer. There are so many ideas out there for us to explore and I’m hopeful that we can make lasting impacts.

What is Crested Butte doing well—and where do you think it is missing the mark?

Crested Butte is an incredible community. Most of us know that we have an extreme need for affordable housing, more specifically rental housing. That housing need is the iceberg to our economic success. Without rental housing in the north end of the valley it’s hard to staff an adequate workforce, the keyword being “adequate.” So many business owners cannot staff for the current demands, let alone expand services, products, etc. They cannot develop their businesses to serve future demands placed on them.

When I talk to visitors at my shop, they often tell me the same things. That they are staying at a short-term rental, they are preparing their meals at home because of cost or wait times and that they bring groceries with them. This shorts the town and business owners on revenue. I think the rental housing crisis is causing a dangerous domino effect that will change Crested Butte as we know it. We will be saying “Goodbye” to more and more community members and businesses unless we change this situation.

Do you use the library? How?

My step-kids use the library often as a place to learn and socialize, usually after school gets out. I have used the internet services and copy services. I’ve also taken out books and I have plans to use their DVD library for some titles.

Last book you read?

I’m a notorious book grazer, I casually scroll through pages of many books at a time. The last pages that I read over came from the book Boys Like Her: Transfictions by Taste This. I have had at least one copy of that book since I was 19 years old.

Do you support building a moat filled with snakes and alligators around Crested Butte?

No. Invasive species are no joke.

Who would you want to spend an hour with on the bench in front of the post office and what would you talk about?

I know that most people might answer this question with a more profound answer but mine is simple. I would want to talk to Governor Polis. I would like to talk to him about the future of Colorado, as he sees it.

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