Summit Greens put up candidate to run for county commissioner |

Summit Greens put up candidate to run for county commissioner

Lu Snyder

SUMMIT COUNTY – Justin McCarthy has an agenda.

It’s about integrity, he said. It’s about speaking up for the working class, the environment and future generations. It’s about getting the younger generation involved and the complacent recharged about local government.

McCarthy was nominated by Summit Greens to run against incumbent Summit County Commissioner Gary Lindstrom in November’s election. They will vie for a seat in commission District 1 – which includes the Upper Blue basin from Farmer’s Korner to Hoosier Pass and Copper Mountain.

“The incumbent (Lindstrom) I’m running against is a good man,” McCarthy said. “But he doesn’t raise those issues that need to be raised to a higher level.”

Some of those issues, he said, include affordable housing, environmental protection and building a sustainable economy.

“I think we’ve really got to think about housing that’s truly affordable, truly attainable,” McCarthy said.

He credited local ski areas for their efforts to provide housing for their employees. But there needs to be a countywide effort to provide affordable housing for workers in all industries, he said.

Most “affordable” housing in the community costs more than $250,000, McCarthy said. And that’s not attainable for the average worker in the county. As a result, locals are forced to move to Leadville, Alma and Fairplay and commute to their jobs in Summit County. Other residents remain in Summit County but have difficulty making ends meet, which leads to high employee turnover and a fractured community, he said.

“People should have a realistic choice to live in the community they work in,” McCarthy said.

As Summit County continues to grow, it is increasingly difficult for the average worker to get by living here, McCarthy said, adding development is threatening future generations in Summit County.

“We need people on the commission ready to defend the values of the community and the environment,” he said.

McCarthy acknowledged Lindstrom is the most moderate of the three county commissioners, but said Lindstrom too often has stood silent when someone needed to speak up.

County commissioners need to know when to compromise and when not to, he believes. They also need to be able to say “no” when necessary. And McCarthy said he’s that person.

The Republican and Democrat parties have been criticized for being influenced by corporate ties. Here in Summit County, that usually means siding with developers, McCarthy said.

Proponents of development argue controlling growth will threaten the economy, McCarthy said, but development threatens Summit County’s sustainability and does not protect resources – including water, open space and wildlife – for future generations.

“We are going to be bumping up against our carrying capacity here soon,” he said.

Nor is growth necessarily good for the county’s No. 1 industry, tourism.

McCarthy, who has worked in the service industry for six years, said he’s even heard tourists complaining about the growth and they don’t find Summit County as alluring as it once was.

McCarthy acknowledged his campaign has its challenges.

“It will be an underdog against corporate and development money … (and) greed,” he said.

Additionally, McCarthy is significantly younger than most local politicians.

“That’s a challenge and a blessing,” he said. “You have such a disconnect (between) younger generations and politicians. Part of this campaign is to awaken the hearts of those people … let them know they can’t be complacent and they need to vote.”

As an average working resident , McCarthy said he is the one to bring local government back to the working people. He works with youth, and said he’s concerned for their future and that of next generations.

In the winters, McCarthy works as a snowboard coach for Team Summit, and in the summer he coaches skateboarding for Breckenridge’s youth program. He also is a Mountain Mentor.

In addition, he works as a doorman and a barback at Cecilia’s in Breckenridge. He’s also a rafting guide in the summers.

McCarthy was nominated by the Summit County Democrats to run for county commissioner in District 3 in 2000. He had to withdraw due to election law technicalities. He has been an activist both here in Summit County and for the Western Shoshone Defense Project and Shundahai Network.

In 1998, McCarthy was campaign manager for Democratic senatorial candidate, Marsha Osborn.

Political Potluck

– What: Potluck to meet Justin McCarthy and raise campaign money

– When: Saturday, June 1

– Where: At his home

Campaign donations welcome, but not necessary.

– For more information, contact McCarthy at (970) 453-8289 or by e-mail at, or Doug Malkan, Summit Greens Chair, at (970)453-6695

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