Opinion | Susan Knopf: Recommendations for Summit County commissioner | SummitDaily.com
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Opinion | Susan Knopf: Recommendations for Summit County commissioner

By Susan Knopf
For The Record
Susan Knopf

I have never been happier to endorse and recommend for your consideration three outstanding individuals for Summit County commission: Josh Blanchard, Elisabeth Lawrence and Tamara Pogue. These three consistently act with integrity and transparency. They are team players. More importantly to us, the taxpayers, they work hard to serve our community with thrift and vision. They each care about the citizenry, not just the tourists, and not just the second-home owners. They care about us. Each has consistently impressed me with their character and their community engagement.

There is strong contrast between these candidates and their opponents. I’ll never forget the Summit Sky Ranch development hearings when Bruce Butler was mayor of Silverthorne. A council member said, “You gotta pay to play.” That phrase is criminally actionable in the state of New Jersey. It implies you have to pay off public officials if you want an opportunity in the marketplace.

Hundreds of people jammed the Silverthorne Town Hall to object to the tripling of the density of the proposed development. Butler and his pro-development town council ignored the public. Not one concession was made to public concerns. Fiester Preserve/Bill’s Ranch folks, and those concerned about the upcoming Peak Materials proposed expansion of gravel pit operations take note. You think you’ve been ignored? You have no idea how bad it can get!

If you want experience, I suggest you look no further than Blanchard, Lawrence and Pogue. Blanchard and Pogue should receive awards from our community for their vision and service.

Blanchard was part of the visionary team that created a new theater complex in Summit County. He oversaw the $3.8 million fundraising campaign for the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center and played a strategic leadership role in the collaborative process that led to its creation and opening in 2017. Vision. Collaboration. Transparency. Leadership.

Blanchard has served as the executive director of the Lake Dillon Theatre Co. since 2010. He is also an adjunct professor at Colorado Mountain College and won the best adjunct instructor award in 2018. Prior to that, Blanchard worked for the Keystone Neighbourhood Co. He worked strategically within the complex framework to reduce marketing and events expenses 30% while enhancing year-round, world-class programs and services. He played a key role in asset management and resource prioritization during the economic recessions of 2008 and 2009, and he helped with the design and implementation of Warren Station.

Blanchard says, “My campaign priorities directly respond to the growing challenges our working families face. These … issues …. 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.”

As CEO of Peak Health Alliance, Pogue worked to decrease Summit County’s health insurance premiums by over 20% while building strong regional and statewide relationships. I just switched to Peak, and I’m feeling the love.

Pogue also led the Family & Intercultural Resource Center. She expanded services for the neediest of our workforce who keep the resort machine running. She increased employment at the nonprofit seven fold. Good jobs, that’s what we need.

As I said, Blanchard and Pogue deserve community service awards.

Lawrence, like Blanchard and Pogue, has come up through the ranks in the business world and emerged as a force in our community.

“As Summit County grows and changes, we need commissioners who are out there working for the people and the changing needs of our community,” Lawrence wrote me in an email. “This involves listening, seeking input, collaboration and problem solving with diverse stakeholders. Summit County has the opportunity to remain a great place to live, work and play … but it will take dedication and hard work from our leaders. My commitment … is … to put Summit County first.” 

Prior to serving on the county commission, Lawrence was a Breckenridge Town Council member and served as mayor pro-tem. She worked as director of community relations for The Summit Foundation. She also owned a small business. She consistently looks to the business community and examines how public initiatives impact the small-business owner.

All three commissioner candidates have expressed their concerns about COVID-19 and its impact on our community, our people and the small-business owners who really feel the boot on their necks. I think we can rely on these three to shepherd us through this storm and into safe harbor.

Susan Knopf’s column “For The Record” publishes Fridays in the Summit Daily News. Knopf has worn many hats in her career, including working as an award-winning journalist and certified ski instructor. She moved to Silverthorne in 2013 after vacationing in Summit County since the 1970s. Contact her at sdnknopf@gmail.com.


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