DeLanie Young calls herself a “life-long learner.” It’s one of the main thrusts of why she not only enjoys her current role as a member of Telluride Town Council, but wants to “take it to the next level.”
“Serving on council is an immense opportunity to learn something new every day,” she said. “It keeps me engaged.”
Town council members sit on any number of town boards and commissions as a liaison, and Young highlights her positions on the Commission for Community Assistance, Arts and Special Events (CCAASE), and the Ecology Commission as two crucial involvements.
“CCAASE directly assists our nonprofits,” she said. “And it’s important to help find solutions and actions that address environmental issues.”
Even as this year’s election cycle churns toward Nov. 5 — Election Day — Young takes joy in the relative quiet of offseason.
“It’s one of my favorite times in Telluride,” she said. “I can actually spend time with people that are otherwise so busy. I like being able to connect with people who live here. It’s like a vacation.”
Telluride’s charms are many for Young, but she especially is impressed with how the community rallies for those in need.
“The community comes out in force to look out for one another,” she said. “This is a small town at its heart.”
Young raised three sons in Telluride and said that while the “it takes a village” adage verges on the cliché, it fits.
“This place is a perfect example of that,” Young said. “We’re always looking out for each other’s kids and partners. I’m grateful for that.”
Name: DeLanie Young
Please list any boards/organizations/nonprofits/committees in which you are involved with/support: I am an elected member of the Telluride Town Council. In that role, I serve as the chair of the THA Subcommittee, the Vending Subcommittee and the SMPA Lot Project Committee (now known as Silver Jack). I am the Town Council representative for CCAASE, the Ecology Commission and EcoAction Partners during the first two years of my term.
I am a member of St. Patrick’s church, where I am a Sunday school teacher for the little guys — 3-7 year olds — and a member of the planning committee for the famous St. Patty’s Day fundraiser.
I have been a volunteer with the Sheridan Arts Foundation for about 10 years. I volunteer for and support Telluride Theatre. I’m also a member of the Elk’s Lodge. I support KOTO, the Telluride Middle/High School thespians, Angel Baskets and have supported various other local nonprofits over the years, primarily through volunteer opportunities.
How would you describe your leadership style?: I primarily embrace a transformational leadership style, which focuses on the big picture and relies on team members to be self-sufficient. It is really all about balance, though. In order to earn the confidence and support of the people you lead, you must be able to adapt your approach to better address a particular situation. Therefore, in some instances, I prefer the democratic (or participative) and servant (or service) based approaches. These put emphasis on collaborative innovation and team morale respectively.
Why do you want to serve as mayor of Telluride?: Telluride deserves a mayor who will be present, respectful and unbiased. I will continue to bring all of those attributes to the table.
My record of participation is indisputable. In fact, I generally plan any travel around my council schedule of obligations. The reality — which is a matter of public record — is that when I lead a meeting, I give everyone a chance to be heard in a respectful manner. I have called out other council members for their inappropriate and disrespectful statements when necessary (also a matter of public record). Some people might describe me as having a specific inclination in voting and that I always vote a certain way. This is quite misleading. My votes have occasionally surprised others who have served with me on council and many others in the community who pay attention to our meetings. Council members, which include the mayor, are bound by the Ethics Code to “be independent, impartial and responsible to the people of the Town.” This means all the people of the town; not one or two special interest groups.
Telluride needs a mayor who will take care of business, here at home, and not use the position as a stepping stone for higher political aspirations.
What do you consider Telluride’s three most pressing issues and why?:I think that the hollowing out of our community, apathy and the growing divisiveness within our town are our biggest challenges. And each of these things are inseparable from the other.
The perpetual loss of residential space for full-time residents is more of a detriment to the fabric of our community than some people would like to admit. The rhetoric and practice of moving employees out of town is not actually cost effective or helpful to the local economy. Ask a few of the local employers how difficult this summer was in regards to staffing: They can’t fully staff, because there aren’t places to live. Granted, not every employee can live in town, but we should make an attempt to keep as many full-time residents here as possible. I will continue to fight for housing opportunities for people who live and work here on the land that is available to us.
If people are working the job of two or three people, or they have to commute three hours a day for work, and they can’t vote in town anyway…
apathy is understandable. People are tired. People want to spend time with their families. People want to enjoy this beautiful place on their bike, go hiking or skiing, or go camping. There are only so many hours in a day. We all need to help each other be involved in the decisions that ultimately affect all of us. I want to provide opportunities for residents to really understand the issues and not just what they hear on Telluride Sweet Rants.
When people make their entire living from practices that cause workers to be unable to live in town, it is easy to see where the divisiveness might arise and thrive. Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” This is easy to comprehend. It is human nature to survive. When your way of life is threatened, you fight for it. This us-versus-them mentality is beyond pervasive in our national government. I truly want to be the compassionate catalyst to bring us all back together to heal and solidify our community.
We will thrive if we work together. I honestly believe this.
What is your definition of community health? Is Telluride healthy? Why or why not?: Physical and mental health are the two obvious things that come to mind. We are addressing those two elements well and continue to improve on them. There are great strides being made to construct a hospital, which is crucial to the region. As a community, we are having frank and open discussions about mental illness, actively trying to reduce the stigma that surrounds it and adopting creative funding mechanisms.
Community health goes beyond what people ordinarily think of as health issues, though. Accessibility to quality education, job opportunities, safe and healthy housing, water and air quality, dependable transportation, senior services: these are also a measure of a healthy community. When any of these are out of balance, it affects our mental health and physical health — it is all connected.
Overall, I think Telluride is in a great position. We can always do better. I would like to see higher education/long distance learning opportunities reintroduced and expanded. I think town government has the network to assist with this. We will continue to support San Miguel Authority for Regional Transportation to elevate our connectivity to the region. Employment opportunities are plentiful, but the types of jobs are generally quite limited. We need to explore diversification of our economy to offer new and exciting opportunities. We are blessed with so many dynamic, generous and intelligent people and organizations in our community. I want to foster collaborations with these people to realize meaningful actions and make improvements where needed.
There are major expenses facing local government in the near future — the gondola and the wastewater water treatment plant are two. What are your ideas on how to fund these services?: I am a big proponent of pursuing grant opportunities when possible.
The gondola is a crucial mode of transportation for our community. Asking for money from the department of transportation is logical. It is incumbent upon us to pursue CDOT funding for this integral part of our infrastructure.
The wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) is a more complicated situation. As state and federal regulations become more rigorous, everyone is feeling the financial repercussions. Dozens of municipalities in Colorado are facing almost insurmountable costs to retrofit plants or start from scratch with entirely new buildings. The search for grant money is extremely competitive. Town staff is continually looking at new technologies and methodologies to reduce the cost of upgrading and improving our aging facility. Ultimately, there will be a cost to the local residents. If we want the comforts of indoor plumbing, we must treat our waste stream. It is unavoidable. I will encourage every stakeholder and partner to pursue funding mechanisms that will lighten the burden on taxpayers.
The Town of Telluride staff has been quite successful in obtaining grant funding for various projects over the years. I am confident that they will continue to pursue these funding sources when applicable.
To be clear, the gondola and the WWTP are regional issues, not just Telluride issues. We must include our regional partners in planning, decisions, and funding for these services. I am certain that with continued, positive collaboration we will find valuable solutions to these and other future projects.