Candidate column: Kathi Meyer for Routt County commissioner

Kathi Meyer
Steamboat Pilot & Today
Kathi Meyer
Dylan Anderson/Steamboat Pilot & Today

What makes a highly effective county commissioner? I believe the job should be administrative, not political, much like a corporate board of directors. And a good commissioner will represent all of Routt County — not just one political party, issue or geographic section. She should also be well-versed in land-use issues, be a strong student of financial management and be a steward of the long-term financial health of Routt County and the fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers.

I have all these qualities. I’ve served in our local government for the last 27 years. This includes 15 years on the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission and six years on the City Council. Before that, I spent 25 years in the financial management field — ultimately as a very successful senior vice president. I oversaw billions of dollars of annual transactions and supervised a staff of more than 125 people.

During my corporate career, I led the financing for apartment complexes, mobile home parks and senior housing. And while serving on the Fannie Mae Advisory Board, I spearheaded national changes for first-time homebuyer loan programs and access to mortgages for minority populations. So, I understand complex financial structures. And I learned fiscal discipline. But I also learned how to maintain a commonsense approach, how to be a good listener and the importance of seeking reasonable solutions to complex problems. An early mentor encouraged me to treat every financial decision as if it were funded by my own hard-earned dollars. And as your county commissioner, I promise to do just that.

In my first year on the commission, I will continue to support the Yampa Valley Housing Authority. I was a founding member of the YVHA and its first president in 2004. So, it’s been my privilege to help hundreds of our Routt County neighbors obtain safe, decent housing — both rental and ownership — and witness first-hand how safe shelter changes lives. Housing has been a challenge in our valley since the late 1970s. And because we live in such beautiful surroundings, it may always be an issue. Even so, our workforce ought to have the option to live where they work, and our businesses depend on those employees. I’m committed to tackling these challenges, even if they seem insurmountable.

The cost of living is especially painful here in Routt County, and I’m afraid it may get worse before it gets better. Essentials like food, gas, energy and taxes keep me up at night. I promise to hold the line on those items I can control. And I will collaborate with entities here in Routt County, both nonprofit and for-profit, and the various municipalities. My track record on Steamboat Springs City Council supports my ethic of conservative fiscal responsibility.

Routt County not only has a river running through it but also a U.S. highway. The highway facilitates connections between municipalities via car, truck or bus. It brings opportunities, but it also brings Front Range control. When Interstate 70 closes for fires or mudslides, Routt County sees major traffic impacts without any significant financial help or long-range alternatives. I believe that should change, and as your commissioner, I’ll collaborate with all affected entities to reach a fair and equitable solution. Doing nothing is not an option.

I would also work on the formation and funding, subject to voter approval, of a Regional Transportation Authority. Improving roads, increasing bus services and even exploring the resurrection of rail service could be possible by creating an entity whose sole focus is all things transit. Upkeep of our county road and bridge system is also a core service of the county which demands continued focus.

Finally, we must seek partnerships with other public sector partners and private development to increase bike and pedestrian connections, not just on a neighborhood basis, but on a county-wide level.

My vision for Routt County is to respect its past, especially our agricultural heritage, appreciate our present environment and keep a positive attitude as we tackle the big issues in our future. As you can see, my skills and experience position me well to be your next county commissioner. So, I promise to be a good listener, to do my homework, to ask tough questions and to respect my fellow commissioners, even if I disagree with them. And I will work hard to earn your trust because I believe it’s not a job … it’s a privilege!

I’d appreciate your vote … and remember, ballots are due Nov. 8.

Kathi Meyer is running for Routt County commissioner.

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