Candidate column: Sonja Macys for Routt County commissioner

Sonja Macys
For the Steamboat Pilot & Today
Sonja Macys
Courtesy photo

Routt County has been discovered. The decisions we make now will determine our quality of life for decades to come. As your Routt County commissioner, I will advance the priorities shared by all Routt County residents. My vision, experience and relationships are aligned with the current and future needs of our county. I am ready to hit the ground running.

Since announcing my candidacy in January, I’ve visited with folks from all reaches of the county, and I’ve learned that, regardless of political leanings, we share a common vision for the future. We value our Western heritage. We want our quality of life to be as good or better tomorrow as it is today. And we want to ensure that our local workforce has what it needs to thrive.

Thanks to leaders who came before us, and the vision they laid out, Routt County has retained wide open spaces and working agriculture, and we’ve defended our Western Slope water. As a former county commissioner used to say, “Routt County doesn’t look like this by accident.”

Through citizen-driven planning processes, we have defined a vision for what we want Routt County to be. These processes indicate, time and again, that our shared values include preserving community character, managing growth, finding equitable transportation and childcare solutions, and continually addressing the decades-long affordable housing crisis. As your Routt County commissioner, I share these values and will advance these priorities.

During my eight-year tenure on the Steamboat Springs City Council, I collaborated closely with Routt County commissioners, and I understand the vital role a county commissioner plays. Perhaps, most importantly, the responsibility of a county commissioner is to oversee and steward county finances. I was a City Council member during the great recession, a challenging period that required steady leadership and intense fiscal discipline. We successfully negotiated some of the most challenging financial times and have come out better for it. I am ready for the financial responsibility of being your county commissioner.

In my second term on council, we tackled big issues shared by both the city and county, like climate action. Our climate action plan was unanimously supported by the entire Steamboat Springs City Council and all county commissioners. It was adopted by each municipality within Routt County. As your county commissioner, I look forward to implementing this plan and immediately addressing drought and wildfire, two of the most visible threats to Routt County.

Like so many people here, I’ve juggled multiple jobs while also participating in public service. I am proud to have been a part of our dynamic nonprofit community, serving as the executive director of Yampatika, and ensuring the organization provide equal access to environmental education for every child of Routt County in public elementary school. I am currently an engineering technician for the Division of Water Resources, while also slinging bags for United Ground Express at the Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

Routt County is an expensive place to live, and our local workforce is feeling the pinch. As your county commissioner, I will collaborate with municipalities to find creative ways support our local workforce, helping to ensure that every Routt County resident has affordable housing, transportation, and equal access to quality health care, childcare and broadband.

As Routt County grows, we are seeing an increase in commuter traffic. The time is now to address these commuter issues before they become unmanageable. During my time on the Steamboat Springs City Council, we adopted a Transportation and Mobility Plan that placed a heavy emphasis on community walkability. At the municipal scale this is a good first step, but at the county level we must think bigger. The time is now.

With the planned obsolescence of coal-fired power plants, there is immense opportunity to repurpose our railway. Routt County residents want to see the Core Trail extended for commuter traffic. A Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), set up to help Routt address transportation issues, could execute on this and so much more. I know, from experience, that RTAs can dramatically improve our quality of life, having helped advance one in Pima County, Arizona while I was serving as executive director of The Tucson Audubon Society.

The responsibility shouldered by a County Commissioner is serious, and Routt County residents have an opportunity to elect, in me, an experienced, enthusiastic, forward-thinking public official. Routt County is at a critical juncture, and I can both see and lead it down the path that most benefits all of our residents. I’d appreciate your vote.

Sonja Macys is running for Routt County commissioner.

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