Breckenridge appoints residents to Social Equity Advisory Commission |

Breckenridge appoints residents to Social Equity Advisory Commission

Alexandria Carns, right, listens to a speaker during a Solidarity Talks event Sept. 19. Carns was one of six community members appointed to Breckenridge’s Social Equity Advisory Commission.
Photo by Elaine Collins

Breckenridge Town Council appointed six community members to the Breckenridge Social Equity Advisory Commission at its work session Tuesday, Dec. 8.

The goal of the commission is to bring together individuals with varied backgrounds to offer a more diverse perspective for the town’s government. The commission’s first meeting will be held in January.

Jordan Burns, Alexandria Carns, Joyce De La Torre and Jason Smith will serve three-year terms on the commission while Isaura Cirillo and Tahja Grier will serve two-year terms. Assistant Town Manager Shannon Haynes wrote in her memo to council that the town received 41 applications for the commission and that the six individuals were selected to be recommended to council following interviews. Council approved the recommendations.

Council members Dick Carleton, Erin Gigliello and Carol Saade will fill the remaining three seats on the commission. Once the commission is on firm ground, only one council member will serve and the other two will be replaced by other residents, Carleton said.

“We were so fortunate in this process to get just an amazing slate of interested folks,” Carleton said. … “This is going to be a big initiative and a very exciting one to many of us. I think there’s so much opportunity to bring equity and inclusion.”

Gigliello noted that the group is well-rounded as far as representation of the local workforce. Saade agreed.

“Everyone that applied brought something to the table,” Saade said. “We’re really impressed. We hope they stay involved. Of the six we chose here, I think we were all just so impressed with not just their personal experiences, their background, but their big picture of the community.”

Haynes wrote in an email that commissioners initially will work with the town’s equity consultant to “form an equity lens and start with a guided foundation.”

Carns, who is the owner of Majestic Mountain Tile and Stone and organized this summer’s Solidarity Talks, said she was excited when the town first announced it would be forming the Social Equity Advisory Commission. Now that she’s been selected, Carns said she’s excited to collaborate with the other commissioners and make plans to create a more equitable community. She said she imagines commissioners will discuss policies and programs to help people who are falling through the cracks.

“COVID has shown us that a lot of people are suffering just even at a normal capacity, but even more so as it’s more pronounced at this point,” Carns said. “So I feel like it’s a little bit easier for us to identify the problem areas since everything has been inflated. So we’ll look at these problems, we’ll evaluate them, and hopefully we can work with other communities and other establishments and organizations in order to solve some of these problems.”

De La Torre, who owns Bread + Salt and Bagalis, has worked in various restaurants and businesses around Summit County and has lived in the area for more than 20 years. De La Torre said she applied to be on the commission because she wants to give back to a community where she has always felt embraced and because she wants to represent non-native English speakers.

“I’m originally from Mexico, so all the Spanish speakers and Latin people, I feel that we all need a voice and somebody who can understand it,” De La Torre said. “People who work with us and for us, I know them, I understand it, I know where they come from because I have been there; I have done that. So I think for the town to hear somebody like me that understands everybody, I want to be the voice for people like me.”

Council also passed a resolution that would pay the commissioners for their time at a rate of $200 per month, the same rate paid to commissioners on the Breckenridge Open Space Advisory Commission. Haynes explained that the rationale behind compensation for the new commission is to break down barriers for people who want to participate, acknowledging not everyone is able to take the time to serve on a commission for free.

“We know that oftentimes positions are filled by folks who have the ability to give up the time to be on a commission,” Haynes said. “And folks who do shift work, have child care concerns, there’s a variety of things that could potentially be barriers to folks applying for being appointed to commissions. We feel strongly that one of the ways we can reduce potential barriers for candidates is to compensate the folks that would be on the social equity commission.”

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