Opinion | Tamara Pogue: Working to earn the trust of the community
Summit County commissioner District 2 Democratic candidate
- Occupation: Peak Health Alliance CEO
- Years in Summit County: 16
- Family: Aila, 9, and twins Anja and Graham, 5
- Civic involvement: Snake River Planning Commission chair, Summit School District volunteer
I believe the best elected leaders are those who work to earn the trust of the community they serve. And if I have heard anything consistent from locals this summer, it’s that they want to see a better connection between themselves and local government. This isn’t a criticism of Summit County as it currently stands; I believe so many have risen to the challenge this pandemic has brought, and we’re all better off for it.
Rather, it’s a sign of an opportunity we have as we emerge from COVID-19. It’s an opportunity for Summit County to build trust — lasting trust — with its community: Families, our workforce, small businesses, second-home owners and guests.
A thriving community has a role to play beyond just paying taxes and hoping for good outcomes. By being more accountable and transparent, by being accessible and open, we further this deep sense of community, determination and innovation we’ve seen throughout Summit during this pandemic. Let’s continue it, build on it and make it a foundation for accomplishing our priorities.
My first priority as a commissioner will be to work with leaders in our community and across the state to leverage state and federal funds as we assess what our community needs to rebuild.
But rather than flipping the switch back to February 2020, we should be strategic in our efforts. I will advocate for an economic advisory committee that consists of key stakeholders — from our workforce to business owners and nonprofits — as a conduit to bring forward their input and ideas. As the overdue update of our Countywide Master Plan begins, the relationships at the state and federal levels along with the contribution of this committee will play an important role in charting a thoughtful, strategic path forward.
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Providing better access to housing, health care and child care for our workforce is not just a social problem, it’s an economic problem. Every member of our community should be able to thrive and contribute to our success — our economy depends on it.
We must not be afraid to rethink housing efforts and adapt as needs evolve. A perfect example is the slow uptake in our most recent housing development in Dillon Valley, which, while a great project for the upper-income brackets of our locals, might have been better suited as rentals. It’s clear that we must create more access to rental housing, multifamily and single-family homes regardless of our residents’ socioeconomic status.
I intend to see that the planned child care center in Silverthorne is built, and efforts to recruit and retain qualified child care providers be prioritized.
Access to affordable health care — particularly mental health services — is more important than ever in our community.
This summer, our BIPOC community asked to be seen and heard, and acknowledge racism does exist. As we implement state-mandated changes to our police, they must be invited to the table and be included in conversations about erasing stigma and building inclusivity not just in policing but everywhere.
Workforce and economy
COVID highlighted how our heavy reliance on the tourism industry disproportionately impacted our workforce and small businesses. Efforts to mitigate this by diversification of our economy and improving our wage base requires a careful strategy, and I believe a permanent office of economic development should be created to explore this and other long-term changes.
Strong representation in the regional group that prioritizes the Colorado Department of Transportation’s investments will be critical to our corridors, but we must also improve our own. In addition to pedestrian, road and safety improvements, we need to ensure broadband and transit are prioritized in our updated Countywide Master Plan.
Climate and natural resources
The county’s Climate Action Plan is an ambitious effort to prepare, mitigate and reduce our impacts to the climate as a community. I’m grateful for those who put the hard work in to committing the county to lead on this issue. It will be a priority of mine to help further implement the steps necessary to meet its goals.
Our natural resources are the reason most of us choose to call Summit County home; we take enormous pride in our surroundings. As we boast about our abundant forests and trails and endless opportunity to explore and recreate, it is also our responsibility to ensure these assets — our rivers, wildlife, wilderness and open spaces — are healthy, protected and cared for so the kids we’re raising today can raise their own children with the same pride.
Tamara Pogue is the Democratic candidate for Summit County commissioner in District 2.
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