DEAR EDITOR:

I am asking San Miguel County voters to vote for me on June 26 to represent them as county commissioner for District 2.  My leadership on the Telluride School Board over the past seven years, my willingness to listen to all sides of an issue, my ability to work effectively and collaboratively with my fellow commissioners, and my work across the county with Tri-County Health Network ensures that I will be effective from day one as your county commissioner.

I will advocate for a more significant role for the county in addressing many of our regional issues.  The county commissioners can act as honest brokers in bringing individuals and other organizations to the table to discuss our regional issues, including housing, securing a permanent home for a regional medical center, building on the work of SMART, and ensuring that our communities are healthy, safe and thriving places to live, work and raise our families.  And on issues on which the commissioners have a say, they will show leadership and solve problems.

Our communities must have hard conversations about the balance between open space and affordable housing and between NIMBY and YIMBY (Yes in My Backyard) and foster smart partnerships among public and private entities.  I support increased density in already built environments, building along established transportation corridors, and making appropriate changes to zoning and land-use codes to encourage a mix of affordable housing options. The county commissioners can be the catalyst to unite our communities on a shared vision for the future of housing.

The Telluride Medical Center has been on a long and thus far fruitless search for a permanent location.  The county commissioners must work to bring all stakeholders to the table to find a permanent home for a first-rate regional medical center. 

A long-term solution to the gondola funding is critical — less than nine years remain before the current funding model ends.  Securing adequate water rights and supplies and ensuring that we can treat the waste are essential functions that will require regional discussions and solutions. The county’s support of the Norwood Raw Water project, ensuring that all communities have access to broadband internet and expanding recreational opportunities across the county are important initiatives to be continued.  Balancing economic and environmental sustainability is vital for the wellbeing of our residents and our environment. 

The county commissioners will need to ensure that we are prepared to address the expected budget cuts in 2019, prepared to hire the appropriate staff to replace retiring long-term county employees, and ready to adjust our budget to reflect our current priorities.  My significant experience with government budgets and with hiring senior staff will help us to address these issues.

Finally, by building on existing relationships, I will work to unite our diverse county, from the Utah border to Imogene Pass, from Lizard Head to Dallas Divide.  We share a love of this special place — let’s work together to keep San Miguel County awesome. Vote Reich for county commissioner.

Thank you,

Paul Reich

Ophir