Lars Carlson is the sole incumbent running in this year’s Telluride Town Council race for two open seats. He is enthusiastic and committed to his role as a representative on council, but he admits it wasn’t easy at first.
“The first year, I walked the alleys,” he said.
But once he got accustomed to the demands of the job, he has derived great satisfaction from public service.
“I love being involved with it,” he said. “It feels like you are really doing something to help. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty.”
The sitting council, Carlson said, is an array of community members with whom he enjoys working.
“It’s a good group of people. We work well together,” he said.
Telluride has been his home for nearly 35 years. He’s just shy of 20 years of service with the Telluride Volunteer Fire Department, as involvement with the department led to a deepening of his commitment to the community.
“Telluride feels like home,” he said. “You say hi to everyone. Most of my friends still live here. I love the people here. You don’t have to lock your house or your car. I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather live.”
When he first ran for council four years ago, he didn’t know it was a paying gig and he believes that the small stipend council members receive is appropriate.
“That way you get people who aren’t doing it for the money, but to serve,” Carlson said.
A married father of tow who works in the real estate business, he’s fine-tuned keeping the demands of council in balance with his family and professional life. He serves on several subcommittees and boards, and is the council representative on the Telluride Regional Airport Authority.
“Balance is important,” he said. “This can’t overtake the full-time job.”
Name: Lars Carlson
Time in Town: 35 years on Dec. 28
Any board/volunteer/political experience?: Yes. Four years on Telluride Town Council and nearly 20 years with the Telluride Volunteer Fire Department. Various years on these boards: Telluride Ski & Snowboard Club, Village Leasehold HOA board president, Strokes of Genius and Fire Department Scholarship committees
Why are you running: After being on Town Council for almost four years, I believe I’m just hitting my stride. There is a huge learning curve serving on Town Council. It takes more time than one can imagine: Getting up to speed with issues and concerns, reading large packets and learning all of the issues related to our town. I believe our current Town Council and mayor are doing an incredible job, but there is still work to do. Finally, I really enjoy being involved on a local level with government, and I like giving back to the community.
Besides housing, what are some of the issues facing town citizens?: In the next few years, the town and community will face some large economic expenditures — sewer treatment plant, hospital, gondola — and how we balance those financial commitments with our day-to-day budgetary needs will be difficult. We must also work as a town to support all those who make up the fabric of our community.
What skills do you bring to Town Council?: I’m a great voice of reason. I listen well. I look at every issue from as many angles as possible. I’m moderate. I don’t have an agenda; my only concern is working to keep Telluride Telluride — a place I want to live, a place I know my neighbors, a place that is safe for my kids, a place that is funky and fun! Finally, my real estate knowledge and negotiation skills have been and will continue to be extremely important as we move forward as a council in developing and purchasing more properties.
What is your definition of community? What is the state of Telluride’s community?: Community is our extended family. It is everyone you meet in the street or on a ski lift. Our community is comprised of everyone who has a vested interest in our town and community, from the bus person at Cosmo, to our younger members of this town and to the second-homeowner on Wilson Mesa. We are all part of the fabric of Telluride. I think Telluride’s community is doing well but, like anything in life, you have to continually work on it and invest time in it.
What do you see on the horizon in four years … issues/your goals, etc.: I think our town needs to continue to work on creating more housing, while at the same time figuring out creative ways to pay for other pressing issues within our community — waste water treatment plant, hospital, arts funding, mental health services, youth center. The list goes on, but they are all very important to keeping our community healthy and vibrant — a place we all want to live and call home.