Josh Blanchard strives to make Summit County more livable in run for commissioner |

Josh Blanchard strives to make Summit County more livable in run for commissioner

Josh Blanchard, District 3 Democratic candidate for Summit County commissioner, poses for a portrait at the Dillon Amphitheater in Dillon on Sept. 3.
Photo by Jason Connolly / Jason Connolly Photography

SILVERTHORNE — If elected as a Summit County commissioner, Josh Blanchard wants to create a more livable community.

“(My husband and I) recognize the challenges for working families to not only get by in Summit County but to really thrive in Summit County,” he said. 

Blanchard, who is running as a Democrat, is up against Bruce Butler, an independent candidate, and Erin Young, who is running unaffiliated, for the District 3 commissioner seat, which covers Silverthorne and northern Summit County. 

Blanchard moved to Summit County in 2002, with his partner, Chris Alleman, a member of the Summit School District Board of Education. Since moving here, Blanchard has come to realize the challenges that come with living and working in Summit County. 

“I’m running because I want to ensure that our Summit County way of living can continue today and for future generations, particularly for working families,” he said. 

If elected, Blanchard’s first priority will be guiding the county through the novel coronavirus pandemic. He plans to foster partnerships with business leaders and government officials so the county can remain open. 

“A countywide, comprehensive public health and safety plan that embraces our resort economy and local economy is vital,” he said. “We’ve had the benefit of being outdoors the last five months, and as we move into the winter season, circumstances are going to change.”

Blanchard proposes resources and incentives to help businesses survive the economic fallout of the pandemic, including alleviating or postponing taxes and regulatory fees. He also plans to provide more resources for businesses who have been hardest hit by the pandemic, allowing them to move their operations online or outside. 

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Mental and behavioral health are another priority for Blanchard, especially as the pandemic has increased isolation within the community.

“These are stressful times,” he said. “We’ve all experienced it on some level. So maintaining services for mental health, services for relief for families that are struggling — I think it’s critical as it relates to our economy.”

Aside from the pandemic, Blanchard’s biggest focus will be supporting working families in Summit County by creating economic stability and recovery, improving the quality of living in the county and preserving the environment. 

“I believe that a strong working class and strong middle class leads to a better Summit County for everyone,” he said. “Within that includes affordable housing, access to equitable mental health and behavioral health services, and access to better education for all kids.”

Summit County commissioner candidates

Democrats Thomas Davidson, District 2, and Karn Stiegelmeier, District 3, are term limited.

District 1: Breckenridge

District 2: Dillon and Frisco

District 3: Silverthorne

View Summit County district maps here.

When it comes to affordable housing, Blanchard would like to diversify options through public-private partnerships, incentives for short-term rental owners to move to long-term rental options and for landowners to build lock-off units on their properties. 

“I feel like a lot of this conversation is going towards treating workers as commodities and not recognizing the fact that these are families that are wanting to thrive and needing to thrive in the community,” he said. 

One of the positions unique to Blanchard is his dedication to the arts. As executive director of the Lake Dillon Theater Co., he has been a leading voice in Summit County’s arts and entertainment community. 

As commissioner, he plans to continue supporting arts efforts in the county, as it can only help the economy, he said. 

“We can use the arts as a mechanism for which our community can continue to identify our values and shape our vision for who we are as a community,” he said. “We also need to recognize the importance that it plays on our economy. I would like to continue to see relief for our arts agencies so that when we do work through the pandemic, we can come back thriving.”

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