Opinion | Jennifer McAtamney: A track record of getting things done
Breckenridge Town Council candidate
- Occupation: Building Hope Summit County executive director
- Years in Summit County: 21
- Family: Husband, Shawn; daughters Mairi, 19, and Emilie, 17
- Civic involvement: Breckenridge Music Board of Directors, 2018-2019; Leadership Summit, 2018-2019; Breckenridge Organizing Committee for USA ProChallenge co-chair, 2014-2017; Breckenridge Childcare Advisory Committee, 2014–2016; Early Childhood Options board member and chair, 2009–present; Town Council Housing and Child Care Committee, 2007–2014; Breckenridge Grants and Scholarship Committee, 2006–2014; Breckenridge Planning Commission liaison, 2010 and 2012-2014; Building Accountability and Advisory Committee member Summit High School, 2014–2019; BAAC member Summit Middle School, 2010–2016; BAAC member Dillon Valley Elementary, 2005–2013; Sustainable Breck Council Committee, 2008–2011; Breckenridge Open Space commissioner, 2009–2010; Summit Housing Authority board member, 2008–2009; Breckenridge Heritage Alliance council liaison, 2008–2009; Global Summit, 2007–2009; Breckenridge Resort Chamber council board member, 2009–2010; Public Art Commissioner, 2007–200; Liquor Licensing Board, 2006–2007; Timberline Learning Center Founding Board, 2007–2008; Little Red School House Board of Directors, 2003–2008; Summit County Arts Council, 2002–2004; and Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center adaptive ski volunteer, 1999–2000.
My name is Jennifer McAtamney. In 1999, my husband, Shawn, and I left the wilds of New York City to live near the civilized slopes of Breckenridge. Settling here, I went to work for the community, volunteering for the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center and the Summit County Arts Council. I joined the board of Little Red School House working on a $1 million capital project to build a new school on Reiling Road. In 2006, I ran for office and was elected to the Breckenridge Town Council, where I served two terms.
I was an inaugural member of the Council Housing and Child Care Committee, stepping down when term limited in 2014. During that time, we launched our innovative child care program, created the town’s strategic plan on workforce housing, built our first town housing project (the Valley Brook Neighborhood) and created the Sustainable Breck program. In 2016, I joined the town’s Community Development Department to manage and streamline the town’s child care program. While there, I also worked with the housing team on workforce housing projects like Blue 52 and joined the Green Team to invigorate the Breck Bag program. In 2019, I became the executive director of Building Hope Summit County, our countywide initiative to create a more coordinated, effective and responsive mental health system that promotes emotional health, reduces stigma and improves access to care and support for everyone in Summit County.
I am a candidate with experience and a track record of getting things done. For me, it’s about taking the time to understand the issues that affect our residents, having a vision and being willing to step up with leadership to get things done in the interest of building and serving our community. Looking ahead, there is more work to do and challenges we must face, balancing our economic prosperity and preserving quality of life. As we face the last pieces of developable commercial land and continue to seek to meet locals needs around housing and wages, I want to be there to help shape the future as it unfolds.
When I initially sat down to write this, my priority was to focus on preserving community, which includes a broad set of actions around congestion, housing, child care, sustainability, transportation and our historic district. However, confronted with a global pandemic, the top priority is to provide fiscal leadership and protect the community in an economic downturn. During my first term in office, we faced the Great Recession head-on, proactively implementing a “reset” of town’s approach to doing business. Staff developed tiers of budgetary cuts, and council did an in-depth review of finances each meeting. We froze salaries, cut capital projects, made strategic cuts to services and increased the Breckenridge Tourism Office budget to continue to drive our economy. We took on strategic projects to provide jobs and economic activity for our locals, and we took advantage of lower priced labor and materials. Preparing for the worst, we were able to weather the storm, meet budget goals and never had to lay off staff. Returning to more settled times, I would focus on the following three priorities to preserve our community.
As we break ground on the new parking structure that will bring 400 new cars into town, we need to take steps to address the inevitable congestion. This means revisiting the recommendations in the Nelson-Nygaard Transportation Study and the Park Avenue SH 9 Roundabout Modeling and Construction Feasibility Study and working together to implement these strategic recommendations as top capital priorities.
Sustainability and climate change
The Town Council has impressed me in its efforts to lead mountain communities and embrace action on climate change. In 2008, I was an inaugural member of the Sustainable Breck Committee and set the groundwork for the town’s efforts in renewable energy, reducing single-use plastics, water, transportation and more. I believe we must be a leader joining other mountain communities to punch above our weight aggressively working to meet goals on energy and sustainability in a holistic fashion.
Housing and workforce supports for locals
When asked by other communities how Breckenridge has made such strides in housing and child care, I point to the town vision plan and the community consensus that preserving our community character is the No. 1 priority. All else flows from this strong statement about who we want to be and what our priorities are. I will bring my experience to bear to continue the strong tradition of working on these complex issues.
Jennifer McAtamney is one of nine candidates for four open seats on Breckenridge Town Council.
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