Kristin Kuhlman

Telluride Town Council candidate Kristin Kuhlman. (Courtesy photo)

Each week leading up to Election Day, Nov. 2, the Daily Planet will publish Telluride Town Council candidate answers to a questionnaire compiled by Planet editorial staff. They will be published in the order in which they were received.

Why are you running (incumbents, again)?

I have lived in Telluride for 30 years with a few breaks here and there, and have always been interested in “the way things work.” For about 10 years running I have been thinking about running for council. Now, with both of my kids Zane and Ruby gone, I have the time to make being a town council member a reality. I seek opportunities daily (in my mind) to devise solutions to the many challenges we are facing as a community. I want to help our town build climate change initiatives, solve the affordable housing problem, soften the suffering brought on with mental health, and devise a path to a Town of Telluride Recreation Center by finally serving publicly for the town I love so much.

Housing. What ideas/solutions will you bring to the table?

Housing — especially affordable housing — is the most important solution we must, as a community, seek right now. I myself was fortunate to be chosen in the Gold Run lottery 11 years ago and there is not a day that goes by that I and the two gentlemen that I long-term rent to don’t count our blessings. We are so thankful. I, as a candidate, understand that I am in a position to be one of the council members who can help bring this joy and comfort to other deserving hard working locals. The current council has done a tremendous job with the projects that they have set in motion — Sunnyside, Voodoo, Carhenge, SWAP, Virginia Placer, and others, and I seek to build on the work these incredible members have put in full swing as I bring other innovative ideas to the table. For one, I’d like to explore other transportation models that allow people who live in our region and work in Telluride to get back and forth easily and inexpensively. I would also like to see if the town-owned property north of the high school can be graded and be considered as a tiny home village or an RV collective.

Are short-term rentals a problem, or not, in your view? What are your thoughts on the two town ballot issues that seek to limit short-term rental business licenses (and other measures) before the voters? Do you have a property you rent short-term?

Short-term rentals are not a problem intrinsically. They are a big part of what makes our beautiful town tick. Short-term rentals support tourism, which helps all of us. Tourism creates jobs, which allows those of us who are fortunate enough to have housing make a living. I will not promote decreasing the number of licenses granted. Instead I will seek to manage the harmful negative aspects that hurt our beloved town. We risk putting Telluride property on the market like a sexy stock. I am glad council deferred this issue to the voters because I believe that the people who live here need to create the direction that we will go.

Ballot question 2D, to me, is almost like a trick question. Should we raise the business license fees of the wealthy to fund affordable housing? Yes. I appreciate the burden that homeowners will carry to gain a return but I believe that the relatively small fees they will write in their books can be recovered by the value of their asset and the measures they will put in place to maximize their return. Telluride is a truly special place and people who want to visit will pay to do so.

Do you currently serve on any town or nonprofit boards/commissions/prior experience as an elected official?

I do not currently serve on any town or nonprofit boards or commissions but I do have past experiences. I was the Executive Director at The Pinhead Institute for two years and I feel that I made great contributions. Also when I lived in Santa Fe for a year I was elected to be on the Santa Fe Arts Council where I spent my time contributing to the Santa Fe Arts scene and was instrumental in further developing the Santa Fe weekly Art Walk.

What is your long-term vision for your community?

I remember when Telluride was a hippy, funky, colorful, anything-can-happen, ski down Main Street town and I miss that charm. Time changes things though and I understand that. Good things have happened, too. As a council member I will put my heart into blossoming us back to our town being the beautiful way it has always been. Brave, wild, mysterious, and so gosh darn beautiful! I want to be the girl that a miner would have voted for.

What is marketing’s role in Telluride’s future? What do you think is appropriate/effective for our community?

In my view marketing is key to our future but I do think that it needs to be more locally driven. The beauty of this place is unparalleled. Combine this with the heart of the people who live here and the people will come. If we can get the essence of what it’s like to be a Telluridian, people will want to experience it first-hand. In my opinion our job isn’t done once they buy their plane tickets, book their rooms, and make all of their reservations. Our marketing needs to include what these visitors should do once they arrive. Telluridians care for one another, we take care of environment lovingly, we are thankful, we clean up our spaces like the Queen were on her way, and we live healthily, responsibly and proudly. Our marketing should not only convey the idea that this is what it’s like to be a Telluridian, it should make our visitors want to be one.

What’s working in town government/what’s not?

The current Town Council, the clerk, our public works, our legal team, our parks and recreation deserve gratitude, a raise, flowers and chocolate. They have done such a fantastic job especially during the ongoing pandemic. They have kept our town happily moving along, clean, housed and entertained. I don’t think that they get the appreciation that they deserve. I really enjoyed the piece that the Planet did on law enforcement. We should do that for the town government as well! I don’t really have a criticism of the town government. They are all busy people and they do an excellent job. I guess they could work more on transportation — getting the people who work here more easily and happily. I very much look forward to working with all of these folks in the future.

Tell us a little about yourself … skier, day job, family, etc.

My Telluride story is a beautiful adventure love story. I ended up here on a Grateful Dead-inspired crosscountry Jeep trip from California to New York but never made it. One stop in Telluride and I was hooked and helplessly in love. I spent a couple of nights sleeping in the back of my Jeep in Town Park and then magically and blissfully found a place to live, a job at The Roma, and so many wonderful friends. A dream that I didn’t know that I had came to life in a few days. Now, I know that I am a lifer. I spent 10 years in college — Berkeley, Notre Dame, and UCLA — winning many awards along the way, most notably being named the Student Athlete of the year at the University of California Berkeley for the entire university. I have had several near Olympic spots in swimming and went on to coach and teach for a while. With backgrounds in philosophy, psychology, and business I thought I become a lawyer but instead I found Telluride. In High school I was voted most likely to succeed and as I define it I have. While I work at The Market at Telluride and shovel snow, I spend my other time being what I have always wanted to be. I am an artist who writes. I have published two books, one award winning, and have my novel, “A True Story,” at Simon and Schuster now being edited for print in 2022. I am happy and don’t have a single regret. Make me even more happy and “Vote Joy” so that I can be on Town Council in Telluride, the most beautiful place on earth.