Tamara Pogue focuses on economy, environment and behavioral health in campaign for commissioner

Tamara Pogue, District 2 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

KEYSTONE — If elected as Summit County commissioner, Tamara Pogue will be putting to work 15 years of experience serving Summit County. 

Pogue is running against Republican Daryl Bohall for the District 2 commissioner seat, which covers Dillon and Frisco. If elected, Pogue’s term as commissioner won’t be her first time in the public eye. 

While she’s never held an elected position in Summit County, Pogue is well-known for her time as the executive director of the Family & Intercultural Resource Center and, now, the director of Peak Health Alliance, a nonprofit that helps people purchase insurance on the individual market. 

“I have spent the last 15 years of my life trying to make a positive difference for the community,” Pogue said. 

Pogue has three main areas of focus in her campaign: the economy, the environment and behavioral health. 

“I don’t think you can name any issue that we face or any challenge that we face in Summit County without recognizing how deeply intertwined all of them are,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s really about finding balance between those three things, and that’s what I’m going to focus on if elected.”

Pogue’s goals for the environment include maintaining the county’s commitment to the Climate Action Plan; growing programs like Zero Energy Ready Homes, Solarize Summit and Resource Wise; and ensuring Strong Future funding, a voter-approved property tax increase that goes toward a variety of issues, including childhood care, behavioral health programs, fire mitigation, recycling and public infrastructure.

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.

Pogue also wants to focus on bolstering Summit County’s economy, an aspect of public life that has been majorly impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

If elected, Pogue will advocate for an “office of economic development” on the county government level, in addition to an “economic advisory committee” and a “financial review advisory committee.” Each entity would work as a means for creating collaboration, transparency and accountability between the county government and local organizations that are focused on economic issues. 

The office will be especially useful during the pandemic, when the county has to work with ski industry leaders to ensure economic security while maintaining safe practices, Pogue said. 

“Our community needs an office of economic development so that we’re thinking about the ways all of these industries come together and connect,” she said. “We can make sure that every industry has an equal opportunity to thrive coming out of COVID.”

Pogue also plans to build public private partnerships, improve accessibility and transparency of the county government and improve the county’s infrastructure by evaluating the conditions of streets, developing adequate broadband services and more. 

Behavioral health access is another issue Pogue plans to tackle if elected. With the onset of the pandemic, the issue has become even more important, she said. 

“If there was a need before, there is a massive need right now,” she said. 

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Pogue wants to focus on flipping the typical intervention model for responding to behavioral health crises by prioritizing prevention, investing and ensuring funding for current programming, and increasing treatment access. 

“We have to look at mental health illness the same way we would as cancer,” she said. “What are we doing as a community to prevent it from getting to that crisis point?”

For Pogue, all of these goals apply to the county’s work to mitigate the spread of the virus. 

“We have to recognize that in some ways, COVID has really exacerbated inequalities that exist in our community,” she said. “The first thing we have to do is bring everybody back together. … Seventy percent of our jobs sit in one industry, and that is both a tremendous opportunity and a tremendous challenge in an environment like the post-COVID environment. We need to start having some of these conversations in an open and honest way.”

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