Adrienne Christy is heading into her seventh winter in Telluride and couldn’t be happier about it. The first-time candidate is Colorado born and raised who, while living in Denver, realized the city life was not a great fit.
“I was ready to live a simpler life,” she said. “The city was not for me. And once I got here, I realized I was a small-town girl.”
Upon her arrival in Telluride, she worked for ski school, but it was through her work with Tri-County Health Network that she “got to know the community.”
She learned in the course of her work with Tri-County that there are many people living in the area that are barely hanging on due to the steep cost of seemingly everything — insurance, food, rent. It hit home for her.
It was Christy who, in the public comment portion of a recent Town Council, meeting implored council to consider raising its monthly stipend for elected officials. While the stipend hasn’t changed, there is now health insurance added to the stipend of $800 per month, plus $467 for expenses. She argued that the time-consuming job’s low pay could make serving prohibitive to working class members of the community, such as herself. She has since reconsidered.
“It came down to it that I really wanted to do it,” she said. “I didn’t want to base it on money. I knew I could make it work.”
On Friday, she was readying for a “door-knocking” weekend meeting people and handing out bilingual flyers at Shandoka, with a friend and Spanish-speaker by her side. While she understands that many Telluride workers may not be registered to vote, she feels it’s important to let them know they can still have a voice.
“I want to make sure people know who I am,” she said.
Name: Adrienne Christy
Time in Town: 6 years
Any board/volunteer/political experience?: This is my first time running for office.
Progressive Women’s Caucus Governing Council (two years as secretary) (current board president) though I have stepped down during my campaign; Community Advisory Committee for SMART, currently serving as co-chair; mentor, One to One Mentoring, four years
Why are you running: I am running for Telluride Town Council to ensure that our leadership is proactively working on creative solutions to keep Telluride a place where people can afford to live, work and play. I am an active member of the Telluride community with a broad knowledge of current town issues. I have a deep love for the community and am willing to listen, learn and do the hard work of representing all Telluride residents.
Besides housing, what are some of the issues facing town citizens?: When I think about the challenges that our locals face, housing is a huge part of that but it’s only one piece of the affordability puzzle. Housing is a basic human need but so is security of employment and the ability to maintain a healthy life through access to health care, food etc. So many of our locals struggle to find stable, well-paying jobs with benefits to support their families. We are the second-highest paying region in the state when it comes to health insurance cost. The reality is that Telluride is an expensive place to live. However, local government has a part to play in protecting its community and citizens, whether that is through housing or supporting an economy that can thrive or mitigating outside forces whose values don’t align with that of our community.
Another issue I see our community facing that is closely tied to affordability is the preservation of our community. If you Google the definition of community the first line is, “a group of people living in the same place.” If we can’t afford to live near our fellow community members, that fundamentally changes the kind of community that we have. Preservation of community is in some ways an abstract idea and something that isn’t necessarily a traditional role for government to play. However, this is Telluride, a town full of creative, smart people who love their home and want to keep it weird and quirky so their kids and others can enjoy it the way that we have. With that in mind, I think Town Council can play a unique role in developing creative solutions to preserve what we love about this place. We are at a crossroad in our community and need to take the time to think collectively about what our values are and what we want our town to be in this quickly changing world.
What skills do you bring to Town Council?: During my time in Telluride, I have worked or volunteered in a diverse array of community spheres. Through those spheres, I have developed a well-rounded perspective of our community strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for change. Through my current work at Tri-County Health Network, I have a unique perspective into many of the challenges that community members face in maintaining their livelihood in Telluride.
As a board member of the Progressive Women’s Caucus, I have worked hard with my fellow members to shed light on current local and national issues. Our mission is to elevate women and shape our community through leadership and participation. With that in mind I have tried to lead by example in dedicating much of my time to advocacy work locally. I believe strongly that as citizens we have to engage if we want to see real change in our community.
I am a mentor through One to One and I am constantly learning from and amazed by my mentee. Hearing about her perspective and experiences as young person in our community has given me a different perspective on many of our town issues.
What is your definition of community? What is the state of Telluride’s community?: My definition of community is a place where you feel safe, supported, welcomed and loved. Moving to Telluride and the six years I have spent here have given me such a wonderful understanding of what community can be.
Our community is changing and it’s changing fast. Not all that change is bad, however, some of that change is negative and it is affecting all of us. The effects are hard to see sometimes but the impact is real.
What do you see on the horizon in four years … issues/your goals, etc.: Continued efforts around affordable housing both in development projects and finding creative solutions to get more rentable units on the market; Finding a home for the Telluride Regional Medical Center; improvements/ upgrades to our town infrastructure to accommodate the growing number of people who live in and visit our town; and continued collaboration with our regional governments to address our common needs.
Editor’s note: The Daily Planet will run candidate Q&As over the next several weeks.