Meet the candidates running for mayor in Gypsum
Incumbent Steve Carver is facing challenger Tina Medina for the town’s first contested mayoral election in 24 years
The Gypsum municipal election is coming up on Tuesday, April 5, and for the first time in over two decades there will be a contested election for the mayoral seat.
Incumbent Steve Carver has held the position of mayor since 1998, and has run the last five elections uncontested. This year, local businesswoman Tina Medina is contesting against Carver, running on a platform of change and promising to bring a new perspective to the mayoral seat.
All registered voters who did not request an absentee ballot are required to go to Gypsum Town Hall in person to cast their vote between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on April 5. More information about voter registration can be found at the Town of Gypsum’s website.
Steve Carver has held the position of mayor of Gypsum for the past 24 years. His first contested election ended in a tie, which was broken when Carver beat the incumbent in a coin flip, as is tradition in tie scenarios for town votes. Four years later, Carver’s opponent dropped out of the race before ballots were cast, and that was the last time that Carver had to run for reelection.
Carver, 70, served in the United States Marine Corps from 1968-1974. Born and raised in Floydada, Texas, he moved to Gypsum with his wife, Christie, in 1986. He currently owns and operates his own towing business, Big Steve’s Towing & Recovery, and has raised five children in Gypsum.
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Carver first held a seat on the Town Council from 1994-1998 before running for mayor. Now having spent over two decades in the role, Carver said that he is as passionate as ever about serving the community.
“I’m running, just like I would have to every time if I needed to,” Carver said. “I just want to continue because of the love for Gypsum that my wife and I have, and to work for the Gypsum community to see that we can be the best community in the area and provide everything we need for our citizens.”
On his candidacy flyer, Carver lists a number of accomplishments that he has achieved over the course of his tenure. One of the major legacies of Carver’s time as mayor is the 1998 annexation of the Eagle County Airport and Airport Gateway Development to Gypsum, which he notes has substantially increased tax revenue for the town.
A number of public buildings — including the town hall, library and recreation center — were commissioned and completed during Carver’s time in office, as well as a number of housing developments, including Cotton Ranch, Buckhorn Valley, Chatfield Corners, Stratton Flats and Spring Creek Village.
Carver also emphasizes the recreational developments that he has helped bring to the town, most notably the Gypsum Creek Golf Course, the Gypsum Sports Complex, the Gypsum Shooting Sports Park, the skateboard park and the Lundgren Outdoor Theater.
Other highlights from his tenure include infrastructure projects such as the water storage created at LEDE Reservoir, the hydro-electric power produced from the town’s water supply, and the construction of roundabouts for improved traffic flow.
Carver said that his ultimate goal is to create an environment in Gypsum where residents are able to live, work and play, instead of having to commute to other towns in order to support a fulfilled lifestyle.
“What I would like to see more than anything, myself, is that we could keep every working person in the town of Gypsum right here in Gypsum, and they would not have to drive the I-70 corridor, because the corridor is a very dangerous place,” Carver said. “I’d love to have that, where people could go to work and come home — not leave an hour and a half early, go to work, spend an hour and a half coming home.”
Carver lists a number of objectives on his candidacy flyer that will work toward that goal if he is re-elected for another term as mayor. This includes the May 1 breaking of ground for a new Tesla sales, service and delivery center that promises to bring at least 40 new jobs and training opportunities to the community.
“Looking to the future, Mayor Carver, with staff and council; is working with the skateboard community to bring a new and state of the art skateboard park to Gypsum; is welcoming the construction of a sales and service center for Tesla; looks forward to the new community dog park; will continue providing needed services and amenities for the citizens of Gypsum,” the flyer reads.
Carver said that he is glad to see more community members getting involved in local politics in recent years. The Gypsum Town Council voted to get rid of term limits for municipal seats in 2003, which Carver said was the result of not having enough people running for open seats. Recently, elections across the valley have been seeing an increasing number of candidates.
“I think competition is good. What I hope is that when somebody does run — no matter whether it’s for the Town Council, or whether it’s for the mayor position — that they would have some experience and understand what’s going on in the area,” Carver said. “Like myself, I started on the variance and then went to the Town Council and then ran for mayor, and I was able to come up the steps of the ladder with all that information. And that made a big difference.”
Carver said he is proud of what the town has achieved over the past 24 years, and hopes to continue applying his years of experience and understanding of the system toward building the future of Gypsum.
“I’ve been in this for so long,” Carver said. “To come from the ground floor to where I’m at now, and to see the changes that we’ve all made as a team, and we have other things on the table that are very exciting. I’d like to see everything just continue to move forward and be able to provide everything that we can to our community members.”
Longtime Gypsum resident and local business owner Tina Medina is stepping up to challenge Carver for the mayoral seat this year. This is Medina’s first time running for public office, and she said that she wants to bring a new perspective to the position.
“I think that Mayor Carver has dedicated 20 years to this position, and that is completely admirable and I think he’s an amazing person and I have the utmost respect for him,” Medina said. “I just come from a standpoint of feeling like a new, fresh view on how I can help facilitate and bridge growth in my community through more community engagement and getting our community involved, while at the same time also bringing diversity.”
Medina, 39, has lived in Gypsum for most of her life. She moved from Avon to Gypsum with her family when she was 10 years old, and graduated from Eagle Valley High School in 2000. After attending college at the Art Institute of Colorado in Denver, she worked in commercial real estate for a number of years before moving back to Gypsum seven years ago to raise her daughter.
Upon returning to Gypsum, Medina started her own business, Magical Mala, in 2015. Magical Mala is a digital marketplace that sells handmade jewelry, gemstones, home decor and clothing crafted with healing meditations and positive energy.
Medina said that as mayor, she would strive to create a work and lifestyle environment in Gypsum that caters to the needs of families and working people. She has experienced firsthand what it is like for family members to lose quality time with their children commuting to neighboring communities to make ends meet.
“My family has done that my whole entire life, still to this day,” Medina said. “We’re driving all over the place to work, and the conditions are just scary. They’re spending so much time working, and the cost of living is so high here, that it’s like you have to work to live. And if there was a way for me to change that, that would be tremendous.”
Medina said she envisions a future in which she can operate a storefront in Gypsum and live near her place of business. As mayor, she wants to make that vision a reality for other entrepreneurs and people building careers in town.
“I want that luxury at an affordable cost, and right now the way that the real estate market is, it’s just insane,” Medina said. “I, as a single mother, cannot afford even a home for my children, and even finding a place to rent is difficult. So I think that is going to be a huge part of my campaign, bringing forth initiatives for single people, young people, trying to build more retail so that people can work where they live. That’s definitely at the top of my list.”
In addition to representing the interests of the younger working population, Medina — who is of Spanish and Native American descent — also hopes to be a voice for the Hispanic and Native American communities in Gypsum. The Hispanic community currently makes up over 30% of the Gypsum population, and Medina said it’s time to have a larger Spanish-speaking presence in local governance.
“I definitely feel that the Hispanic community needs a stronger voice in Gypsum, maybe in the whole entire valley, because we are a very large population here in the valley,” Medina said. “I feel like even just by me stepping up to want to even have a voice is an avenue where people can look up to me, and if I can even bring the littlest bit of change and acknowledgement to the Spanish-speaking community, I think that even that is a driving force for change.”
Medina said that she respects and appreciates all of the growth that Gypsum has seen during Steve Carver’s time as mayor, but she wants to bring a new approach to future development.
“I have a very different vision of what I see Gypsum becoming than what it is,” Medina said. “People refer to Gypsum as a bedroom community. You know, our claim to fame right now is Costco and the airport — which I’m very proud of both of those things — but we can just be doing so much more. How can we look at maybe some empty buildings that are in Gypsum, or empty spots in Gypsum that maybe we can create other things to engage the community? As mayor, I want to do the research and the footwork to learn why we’re not growing and how I can help facilitate that.”
Medina highlighted housing, economic opportunity, family activities and increasing the voice of traditionally underrepresented communities in Gypsum as priorities for her campaign. As this is her first time running for public office, she said that she does not want to put forth any promises that she cannot keep, but that she is committed to studying the role and the current state of the town to identify opportunities for positive change.
“It’s going to be a learning curve. I’m willing to learn, and I’m a quick learner,” Medina said. “I just want to give it a go and do right by my community. People have definitely said ‘You’re crazy for doing this’, but I actually have gained a lot of support from the community because I think that our community as a whole is desperate for change. I think that just having a fresh perspective helps facilitate that change.”
When: Tuesday, April 5, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: Gypsum Town Hall
Voter registration: Townofgypsum.com/town-hall/town-council/municipal-election
The special session will begin Nov. 17.