Opinion | Josh Blanchard: Focusing on families for a thriving community
Summit County commissioner District 3 Democratic candidate
- Occupation: Lake Dillon Theatre Co. executive director, Colorado Mountain College adjunct instructor of communication and theater
- Years in Summit County: 18
- Family: Husband, Chris Alleman; and son, Lincoln, a second grader at Silverthorne Elementary
- Civic involvement: Lower Blue Planning Commission, Summit County Arts Forum, Summit County Zero Waste Advisory Group community representative, Growing Together board, Summit School District volunteer, Lake Dillon Preschool board, Family & Intercultural Resource Center volunteer, Colorado Mountain College Speaker Series board, Summit High School speech and debate coach, Arts for the Summit chair
A Summit County local since 2002, I understand first hand the challenges working families face. I am running for Summit County commissioner to work toward better affordability and quality of living for Summit County families. Strong, healthy and secure families make for a better Summit County for everyone.
I’ve held the same campaign priorities since I announced my candidacy Feb. 1 at Rainbow Park:
- Better affordability and quality of living for Summit County families
- Preserving Summit County’s natural resources
- Investing in public health and safety
- Promoting fiscal responsibility and transparency.
In April, I added one more: economic recovery and stability.
My campaign priorities directly respond to the growing challenges our working families face. These same issues threaten the Summit County lifestyle for everyone. They impact our wallets, our health, our kids and our futures. I’m experienced, hardworking and ready to step in and step up for Summit County.
It’s (mostly) about the economy
Decision-making regarding economic recovery must include scientifically informed public health policies. Wearing protective face coverings, safe physical distancing and appropriate occupancy restrictions remain critically important in keeping us healthy. Businesses need to stay open. Patrons need to put money into our cash registers and purses. And workers must stay employed. The county should continue relief efforts for hard-hit businesses. Local relief funds and operational resources can help businesses become more streamlined and nimble. We can support flexibility and innovation, like moving operations outside or developing online transactions.
These are tough times. We need to maintain mutual regard for one another — essential workers, families, retirees and second-home owners — during recovery. It’s at the heart of who we are as a community.
Strong families make strong community
Working families shouldn’t be expected to just get by. We should thrive. Strong families and a supported workforce make for a better way of living for everyone. Quality of living and equitable lifestyle security means affordable and retainable home security, health insurance and education at all ages of growth.
Summit County families will benefit from a more diverse mix of housing types. We need options. Affordable home ownership may be the best choice for some families. Rent-controlled homes may work better for others. Accessible health programs focusing on prevention and wellness provide for healthier, more productive families. Equitable pre-K, elementary, secondary and higher education options will prepare our kids for the challenging, yet opportunity-enriched futures their generations face.
Climate change: Yeah, it’s real
Impacts from our changing climate effect our environment, our culture and our economy. Quality air, healthy ecosystems and clean water make living here special. They also sustain industries that drive our economy.
A countywide renewable energy program would reduce energy use, create new jobs and expand renewable-energy industries in Summit County. An equitable universal recycling policy would encourage more residents and visitors to participate in recycling programs. And a local Summit County water advisory board that focuses on the growing threats to water resources could play a leading role in immediate and long-term solutions for our most dire climate challenges.
Live well, be well
A collaborative, holistic approach to public health and safety plays a vital role in maintaining a sustainable lifestyle. Resources committed to mental and physical health, emergency services and first-response agencies are community investments.
Public health should continue to respond with effective policies aimed at preventing the spread, infection rates and hospitalizations related to COVID-19. Expanding mental and behavioral health services are investments toward stronger communities and sustainable workforces.
Today more than ever, we need to hold our first responders accountable for high quality, equitable and professional service. We also need to provide resources and infrastructure that allow agencies to fulfill their jobs and maintain trust between residents and emergency responders.
Responsible, transparent management of county funds is required for sustainability during periods of uncertainty. An increased communication initiative between county elected officials and taxpayers would increase transparency. We all need to better understand residents’ values and priorities that drive public investments. Maintaining a healthy reserve means being able to respond efficiently during crises related to public health threats, natural disasters, population fluctuations and recessions. We need to be smart with our financial resources. We need to apply common-sense principles to spending, focusing on essential programs and services.
Josh Blanchard is the Democratic candidate for Summit County commissioner in District 3.
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