In my first state of the Town address to all of you in January of 2020, I said that I believed when you elected me you placed your trust in me to keep things real and not simply sugar coat the state of the Town. I still believe this, and I intend to be steadfast in my honesty — even when it is uncomfortable. To temper the discomfort, I will always strive for compassionate honesty.

In my last state of the town address, as we entered the downslope of a daunting spike of local COVID-19 cases, I did my best to focus on the positive with a gentle reminder to remain vigilant.

While we have had only one COVID death in our community, that one death affected so many. We have heard over and over that we are not out of the woods yet. This remains true. Yet we should be proud as a community of our standing not only in the State of Colorado but also in the nation with the levels of vaccination we have achieved. We don’t all agree on issues related to this pandemic, and that is OK. Please remember to be kind no matter what.

We have lost many friends in the past several months to tragic accidents, and several others have sustained serious injury. The loss of these individuals will be felt always. As community gathered and shared stories and laughter, the love could be felt across the miles. This does not eliminate the sadness. Perhaps that togetherness can provide some solace.

Sometimes it is hard to believe something when your eyes are seeing contrary evidence. Though it looks lush and green, and we are seeing occasional rain here in Telluride, we sit near the edge of what is in fact a 20-year drought in the western portion of the United States. The smoke that has settled in our air is a reminder that one small mistake or act of nature can wreak havoc on a community and its surrounding region. Please pay attention to the data and not just what your eyes are telling you.

We need a healthy economy to satisfy the needs of the people who live here and the demands of those who travel here. Our economy has been thriving, even in the midst of a pandemic. Our businesses overall were as successful as the preceding three-year average and in some cases more successful. The real estate market has driven our RETT revenue to unforeseen heights. We are so fortunate to have escaped this past year and a half relatively unscathed in terms of our local economy. That success does not always come without a cost, and we are experiencing unintended consequences. Businesses are now struggling to keep their doors open not due to lack of demand but due to a shortage of help.

We should always recognize and appreciate the good things we see, hear, and experience. We should be joyful, enjoy each other’s accomplishments and special occasions. It feels good to be able to enjoy each other’s company in person again. Yet, we cannot ignore the struggles that people are facing on a daily basis.

We must be vigilant. We must be diligent. We must be thoughtful and kind. We must remember what makes our home special and nurture everyone and everything that makes it possible. We must do all of these things with an open mind to the bigger picture and not simply focus on our own individual situations. We are truly all connected, and we are at our best when everyone is successful. Though our boundaries are the Town of Telluride, we are part of a much larger community. I want to thank each and every one of you for being a part of our community. You are all important.