Elisabeth Lawrence advocates for transparency, communication in campaign to maintain commissioner seat
FRISCO — If there’s any county commissioner candidate who knows the job well, it’s Elisabeth Lawrence.
Lawrence, who is the only incumbent on the Nov. 3 ballot, is running to keep her seat in District 1, which covers Breckenridge. She is running as a Democrat against Republican Allen Bacher.
Lawrence, a Breckenridge resident, was appointed to the commissioner position in February 2019, when Dan Gibbs vacated the seat to become the executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources under Gov. Jared Polis.
“This was in my long-term plan to run for commissioner, but I thought that opportunity would be in 2022,” Lawrence said. “So when the seat came open in early 2019, I decided to go for it. I’ve learned that actually this is the work I have always wanted to do, and I wanted to continue it.”
Along with current commissioners Karn Stiegelmeier and Thomas Davidson, who are term limited, Lawrence has worked to create more affordable housing availability, enforce environmental sustainability and mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
While Lawrence anticipated the role of commissioner to be a full-time job, she has come to realize the “all-encompassing” nature of the position in the past year and a half.
“It becomes one’s identity,” she said. “I’m always commissioner day in and day out, and I always have to be serving the people of Summit County.”
Democrats Thomas Davidson, District 2, and Karn Stiegelmeier, District 3, are term limited.
District 1: Breckenridge
District 2: Dillon and Frisco
District 3: Silverthorne
Lawrence said she has taken a common-sense approach to the pandemic by listening to experts and data to inform her decisions.
“We can go about this the marathon way or treat it as a sprint,” she said. “Summit County is really taking the approach of a marathon. We’re in this for the long haul.”
The “marathon” involves balancing the safety of residents and guests along with keeping the economy running, she said. Lawrence used relationships she already established with ski area owners and operators, which helped guide discussions once the pandemic hit.
“It paid off during COVID because we needed to be in touch all the time,” Lawrence said. “We had tens of thousands of guests here in Summit County when the pandemic first hit that needed to go back wherever they came from when the ski areas first closed down. So having those relationships was essential.”
Moving forward, Lawrence plans to continue working with ski area stakeholders as a ski season like no other approaches. Included among those stakeholders are the other businesses that rely on tourism driven by ski season, she said.
“Whether that’s a property management company, restaurants, retail stores — all of those businesses that are essential when the ski areas reopen,” she said. “(I will focus on) how this pandemic affects them and making sure we talk through that.”
Aside from the pandemic, Lawrence has other goals if she is elected. For one, Lawrence would like to hold quarterly commissioner meetings later in the day at locations outside of Breckenridge to provide more accessibility for county residents.
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“It’s intimidating to come to the third floor of (the courthouse in) Breckenridge on Tuesday at 10 a.m.,” she said.
Lawrence also plans to make government more transparent, focusing on communication with the Spanish-speaking community. She would like to focus on further funding for wildfire mitigation plans, affordable housing, efforts to prevent climate change and health care.
“Summit County has evolved and changed, and it’s time that our board of commissioners changes and evolves with that,” she said.
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