County commissioner profiles: Holm says she’ll bring collaboration
Courtney Holm was one of the first people raised in Vail and makes her living as a mediator and advocate.
That perspective and those skills are needed on the board of county commissioners, especially now, she said.
“Eagle County is an amazing place. The only way we’re going to keep it beautiful and running well is economic development,” she said. “The county commissioners need to be more proactive.”
Even though the economy is rebounding, businesses are still closing, she said.
“You should have more collaboration between governments and businesses,” she said.
Collaboration, she said, begins with listening.
“Good political discourse doesn’t happen unless we are listening to one another,” she said. For the county issues, you have to go beyond the party lines and find middle ground.”
People have talked about economic diversity since ranching, timber and mining were Eagle County’s primary industries. But that was then.
“The difference now is that we have the kind of technology that makes it possible,” she said.
She said she isn’t necessarily talking about brick-and-mortar industries. She said she has friends working at Google and Amazon, and technology makes many things possible.
She suggested a business incubator, since high property values and other expenses make it tough to start a business in Eagle County.
“Eagle County is a place of entrepreneurs. Lots start here but don’t stay here,” she said. “I want to focus on creating a sustainable year-round economy.”
Medical tourism can be part of it, with the Vail Valley Medical Center, Colorado Mountain College and other related industries. The market, she said, will move toward profitable things.
“We need to invigorate our economy so our kids and grandkids can live here and flourish in this beautiful place,” Holm said. “You have to make the right decisions, get involved. I want to make the right decisions for Eagle County.”
Most issues run across the region, she said — the economy and finances, tourism dollars and water, among others.
“You have mutual interests with other counties and towns. All the municipalities should be in this together,” she said.
A little coordination of community events might also be in order, so events don’t pile onto one another as they often do.
Traffic on Interstate 70 has been an issue for decades, she said, and suggested creativity to go with calls for more concrete.
“A lot of things that come to us from the Front Range, money to our businesses, friends. When it’s clogged, it’s more than an inconvenience. You need to work not just locally and regionally but statewide including the governor,” she said. “I think you have to look at creative solutions.”
The Colorado Department of Transportation is spending millions to improve I-70, and pushing programs to encourage motorists to avoid driving during those weekend afternoon peaks, she said.
“One of the ways is to keep traffic off is to have more flights into the Eagle County airport. That’s one less thing coming down I-70. You also have to deal with other counties, the state and the federal government, which is one of the ways my skills as a mediator can help the county,” Holm said.
Water might be the most important issue, and one of the commissioners should always sit on the water board, Holm said.
“Right now no one is,” she said, adding that former county commissioner Jon Stavney holds that seat.
About 80 percent of Colorado’s water starts here in headwater counties, but 80 percent of the state’s population lives along the Front Range, she says.
“It’s such a collaborative issue and such a balance. If you divert too much to Denver, you cripple Eagle County and other headwater areas,” Holm said.
Holm announced her candidacy in February and has been campaigning ever since.
“I’ve knocked on a lot of doors,” she said. “It’s the person to person contact that matters most. It’s what keeps you connected and keeps you on task.”
Many people ask what the commissioner does. Most are positive and encouraging, she said.
Most have ideas about how they think things should go and are more than willing to share.
“People want their open space to be accessible and the local economy to be stronger, more diverse and less cyclical,” Holm said.
She ran four years ago as a replacement candidate for the local Republicans, recruited with less than two months before the election to run against a popular Democrat running for re-election. She didn’t win, but she learned.
“You learn something from everything you do,” she said.
Holm makes her living as a mediator, advocate and attorney.
“The commissioners should be advocating for citizens,” she said. “If you’re elected, you represent everyone’s needs.”
Holm was born and raised here and was a Division 1 swimmer at the University of Arizona, and Colorado State University.
“Growing up with my family and my job, you help people. That’s what you do all day,” she said. “You’re supposed to use the gifts you’ve been given in life for the greater good. I want to make a good difference in the world. I want to be the glue for Eagle County.”
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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